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A cheap, car-free New Year’s Eve in downtown Oakland

30 Dec

New Year’s Eve has never been one of my favorite nights to go out. Clubs and events are absurdly overpriced. Everywhere is at least twice as crowded as usual. It’s close to impossible to catch a cab. So many years I stay home or do something low-key with some friends.

But this year my wife and I decided we wanted to go out and when I found out that the Free Broadway Shuttle would be running its usual Saturday night schedule of 6pm-1am, I realized we could bar hop around downtown Oakland. Getting around will be super easy (and free), and if any of the places we go to are too crowded, we can move on.

I researched free or cheap bars and clubs in downtown and put together this list, which I figured I’d share here. Continue reading

Suzanne L’Heureux: The Show Must Go On – Community Film Series Struggling to Continue Without Funding

5 Dec

This guest blog post was written by Suzanne L’Heureux, an Oakland resident, artist, and art historian with an interest in community building and art as social practice. She is a cofounder and organizer of Temescal Street Cinema, which she views as part block party, part public art intervention.

I think many readers of Living in the O will agree that in large part, it’s the lively, creative community events and small businesses that make Oakland a rich and wonderful place to live in spite of some of our larger problems as a city.

This is why four years ago, my neighbor Catarina and I started Temescal Street Cinema – a free outdoor movie night featuring films by Bay Area artists. We wanted to highlight the work of Bay Area artists, while bringing people together in a dynamic community event that fosters connections in our community.

Our series has run for six Thursdays every summer for the last four years. Since we began, we have steadily grown to an audience of 200+ per week. We have received a great deal of positive press and we have supported the work of 100+ artists through a combination of live music, shorts and feature length films. This past season, we were voted Best Local Film Event by The East Bay Express.

Continue reading

Celebrate Plaid Friday – support local, independent Oakland businesses

24 Nov

Things have been pretty heated in Oakland for the last month. Many Oaklanders who have worked together in the past (some for many years) are now debating each other about Occupy Oakland. Some Oaklanders love it, others hate it, and others love the idea but have been turned off by recent actions. I’ve seen and been part of many heated debates online and in person about the effects of Occupy Oakland on our city.

Last week, I got into a particularly heated debate with a close friend of mine on Twitter that quickly devolved since there’s very little room for nuance or explanation in 140 characters. I left the conversation feeling very angry (and I’m sure he did too). Later that day I picked up the phone and called him, and I’m so glad I did. It turned out that though we had been talking past each other on Twitter, we actually agreed on quite a bit and respected each other’s perspectives.

I hope others are doing the same – having real conversations with each other about Occupy Oakland and what it means. We need to remember that after this phase of Occupy Oakland is finished, just like after elections when we might disagree, we all have to work together again. The problems in our city are not going away, and we can address them so much more effectively if we work together.

So on this Thanksgiving, I hope Oaklanders will come together and support each other. One easy way to do that is to shop locally on this Plaid Friday and this weekend. Continue reading

Enjoy Fairyland for Grownups this Friday

28 Sep

For years I’ve wanted to go to Fairyland. I often joke about how I need to borrow a kid so that I can go, since adults can’t go to Fairyland without being accompanied by a child. Every year there’s a night time gala for adults, but I’ve never been able to make it. Besides, it’s a bit pricey to get into the gala (it is Fairyland’s big fundraising event of the year). I’ve often wished that Fairyland would open at night for adults more often, and with an entrance price that everyone could pay.

Finally, Oaklandish has made my wish come true. This Friday they’re hosting Fairyland for Grownups: Continue reading

Throw Down for the Town this Saturday

9 Aug

There’s been a lot of bad news in Oakland lately, and I know sometimes it’s easy to feel down about the City and to feel like there’s nothing you can do about it. But this Saturday, August 13th you can, at the Ella Baker Center’s Throw Down for the Town: The Oakland Service Festival.

The concept of this day is pretty awesome. Ella Baker Center put out a call for projects, and groups and individuals organized their own service projects as part of this day. That means that not only are there service projects spread out throughout the city – unless you live in the hills, chances are there’s a project a walk or a quick bus ride away from you – but there are many different types of projects you can participate in. You can beautify a park, set up a book room, garden, build with Habitat for Humanity (hmm, might you find another Oakland blogger there?), create a dog park, help with a community market, and so much more.

Here’s a map of all the locations: Continue reading

Check out the Temescal Street Fair & Oaklandish County Fair this Sunday

8 Jul

I’ve been going to the Temescal Street Fair for years so I was super bummed when I had plans for the date it had been scheduled for in June. Lucky for me (but not so lucky for the event organizers), it was rescheduled due to the rain for this Sunday, July 10. (You’d think it would be safe to schedule an outdoor event in June, but with the crazy weather this year, I guess not.)

I’m a big fan of street fairs and festivals. I love seeing normally car-jammed streets filled with pedestrians. I love having so many different food vendors and other small business vendors crammed together and so convenient. I love running into Oaklanders from the neighborhood and beyond.

The Temescal Street Fair is special to me though because for five years it was my neighborhood street fair and had to substitute for my neighborhood block party, since living on Telegraph, it’s not so easy to set up a block party.

This year, the fair has a similar structure to past year’s events, except for one awesome addition – the Oaklandish County Fair. But this isn’t your regular county fair. Instead of farm animals and pie eating contests, they’ll have pop-up soccer, bike dances, wrestling, a photo booth, and much more. Continue reading

Karen Hester: Bites on Broadway – Mobile Fun and Family Fun

3 Jun

This guest post was written by Karen Hester, an events producer who lives in Temescal Creek Cohousing and often cooks dinner for her community of 25 folks. You can subscribe to her event listings by signing up on her website. She is a board member of Destiny Arts Center, a bike enthusiast and loves to eat almost any street food, including fried crickets in Cambodia.

Bites on Broadway is my latest attempt to actually do something about the blight I experience everyday along Broadway, especially between 49th and up to College Avenue. I am an events organizer so it seems natural that the idea of a local homegrown mobile food meetup combined with urban games would excite my interest.

I teamed up with Guerrilla Grub co-owner Elizabeth August whose healthy California comfort food I relish. We come out of the same mold as community organizers. First, identify the issue: lack of healthy affordable food, especially around 45th and Broadway, where fast food is king. Broadway, a main thoroughfare in Oakland that has become the ugly step child of Telegraph, College and Piedmont Avenues, a boulevard no one in the City seems to even remotely pay attention to, except for the few tried and true businesses like Art Tile and Bay Appliances and newbies like Oakland Karate and New Style Motherlode, opening a much needed dance studio once all the City permits are navigated. Continue reading

Celebrate local businesses and artists at the 5th Annual Oakland Indie Awards

12 May

Tomorrow (Friday) night is the 5th Annual Oakland Indie Awards, and as I’m looking forward to it, as I do every year. The Indie Awards honor Oakland businesses and artists that have been nominated and judged in categories like Oakland Soul, Ripple, Greenie, the new Socially-Responsible Rockstar and more. For the third year, I had the opportunity to judge the Indie Awards, and though I don’t know who the winner are, I can promise you that the nominees were all well-deserving of their nominations.

This year the event is cheaper than ever (just $10) and is structured a bit differently than in the past. The awards ceremony will take place from 6-6:30pm, followed by the celebration party until 10pm.

Here are the details, from the Indie Awards website: Continue reading

Art Murmur revisited

9 May

After going for the first time in September of 2008, I went to the Art Murmur regularly for the next year or so. I loved taking in the art, hanging out with friends, and seeing a part of Uptown that was often near deserted filled with people.

But at some point, I lost interest in it. Many of the galleries were so crowded that I barely could enjoy the art. Even on the streets, it was often hard to move around. So I stopped going. I never made a conscious decision to stop going. I just didn’t prioritize it, and somehow more than a year went by before I returned.

Fittingly, when I did return this past Friday evening, I didn’t really plan to go but figured since I was walking home from work and didn’t have anywhere else to be, I might as well stop into a few galleries on my way home. I’m glad I did, as my experience reminded me of what drew me to the Art Murmur initially. Continue reading

Join us for Jane’s Crawl this Saturday to celebrate the ideas of Jane Jacobs

3 May

Every year, in cities throughout the world, organizations host Jane’s Walks to honor the ideas of writer Jane Jacobs. The City of Oakland will be hosting a Jane’s Walk, as it usually does, but there’s also something a bit different going on this year. Walk Oakland Bike Oakland (WOBO) is hosting a Jane’s Crawl.

At the A Better Broadway event last month, Ruth Miller, Karen Smulevitz and I were all chatting. I had just been talking to Ron Bishop about a bicycle ride he was hosting and lamented to them that there were so many awesome events planned for bicyclists, but not so many for walking enthusiasts. I said we should have a walking pub crawl some time. And that sparked an excellent idea from Ruth Miller of WOBO – why not host a pub crawl to coincide with Jane’s Walk?

So this Saturday, we’re hosting the first Jane’s Crawl, where we’ll be walking from downtown to North Oakland, visiting some of the best bars along Telegraph to enjoy drinks, food, and discussions about Jane’s ideas. Continue reading