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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.

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Karen Hester: Show Up, Eat Up, Speak Out – Interim Mobile Food Policy Comes Before Council this Tuesday, Dec 6th

3 Dec

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.

In the scheme of things, I’m a relative newcomer to the food fights in the mobile food landscape. City staff and some local food truck operators have been pushing for a new kinder, gentler mobile food policy for almost 2 1/2 years.

Last spring Ed Manase and staff from Planning got push back from the City committee called Committee for Community Economic Development to reach out more to stakeholders and naysayers. He had tried to push through a comprehensive policy for the whole city, which makes sense, except in Oakland since Desley Brooks and Larry Reid don’t want mobile food in their districts. Which is a shame as the poorest parts of Oakland are the ones that perhaps stand to benefit the most as food trucks are a great incubator for food entrepreneurs who can develop a loyal clientele without investing in a brick and mortar restaurant. I predict that whoever replaces Larry Reid next November will realize the lost opportunity and get onboard.

So now while Ed Manase and staff work on a comprehensive policy to hopefully be adopted by the Council by March, Councilmembers Kaplan and Brunner have worked with some of us in the community to put forward an interim food pod policy that will be good until January 2013. Continue reading

Nathan Stalnaker: Moving Oakland Forward

27 Oct

This guest post was written by Nathan Stalnaker, who spends the day organizing in West Oakland and serves on the Board of Make Oakland Better Now! and is an elected at-large member of the East Bay Young Democrats.

The City of Oakland suffers from gridlock and a fiscal crisis that just won’t quit.  Even so, again and again, the same characters are repeatedly elected to the same positions.  Our system is broken.  Our local races are anti-competitive.  New people enter the races and win only when an incumbent steps down.  It begins to seem that to become an elected official in Oakland, you already have to be or have been an elected official or spend your time currying favor with those already in office.

A Catch-22?   Sure.  Could an initiative calling for term limits for City Council stir things up sufficiently enough to get fresh policy thinking in City Hall?   Absolutely.  Read the petition yourself.  To balance experience and fresh ideas, the petition was crafted with a three-term (12 year) lifetime limit. Continue reading

Joyce Roy: MTC stealth action contradicts sustainability policy

16 Aug

This guest post was written by Joyce Roy. As a retired architect, Joyce has raised her sights (or sites?) to the whole city of Oakland and so has been active in advocating for better transit, the right development in the right place and the reuse of existing structures.  She is an active member of ULTRA.

With little public knowledge or input, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) voted on July 27 to purchase a 1940’s warehouse in a desolate San Francisco area, a half-mile from BART, for a new headquarters to share with other regional agencies.  This violates their own land use policy of locating ”job centers within a quarter mile of transit.”  And it will take many years and more than the $180 million allocated to transform this 8-story humongous plug-ugly warehouse into humane habitable office spaces. No matter how much money is sunk into this building, it is doubtful it can be rated a Class-A office building because of its location.

MTC has another choice, a superbly sustainable one, for $153 million—a proposed new, fully entitled, 20-story Class-A office tower above the 12th Street BART Station at 1100 Broadway in downtown Oakland which will be LEED Platinum certified! With 310,000 square feet of office space and 10,000 square feet of public/retail space on the ground floor, it would more than meet the needs of all three (or four?) regional agencies—it would become a signature regional center.  And the façade of the attached Historic Key System building, the birthplace of Bay Area mass transit, would be restored! What better demonstration of sustainable development could there be? Continue reading

Karen Hester: Bites off Broadway – Mobile Food and Family Fun

21 Jul

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.

When I started Bites on Broadway last June, I wrote a pretty optimistic blog as it seemed pretty straight forward. We had permission from the Oakland Unified School District  to use the Oakland Tech Plaza for a weekly food pod event, I had a partner in the venture and we had plenty of food trucks lining up to participate.

What a difference a month makes. The risk manager for OUSD ended up denying our permit to use the plaza because of “liability issues” and I got an email from their legal counsel noting that I was engaged in “criminal activity” by trespassing on their lawn. Trespassing in this case means folks sitting to eat their pulled pork sandwich. I kept the event going because I believe that neighbors should be able to enjoy the public lawn that we pay for through taxes and that in fact the connection between Oakland Tech and the community was a positive thing. Continue reading

Ruby Reid: I’m not a cat lady, I’m an animal ally!

14 Jul

This guest post was written by my neighbor Ruby Reid, MSW, a Community Organizer and lifelong animal advocate. She has worked on local, state, national and international campaigns for animal rights, human rights and the environment. Her work is informed by her training and experience as a professional social worker. She is currently writing a “Do It Yourself” guide for new activists, The Organizer’s Cookbook, which will be available soon.

I asked Ruby to write this post when I heard about the East Bay SPCA Adoptathon happening this Sunday in Jack London Square. Over 30 animal shelters and rescue groups are joining together to adopt out hundreds of cats, dogs, rabbits, reptiles and more. Not convinced you adopting is for you? Read Ruby’s story and it just might change your mind. If so, head to Jack London Square this Sunday from 10am-3pm for the Adoptathon.

Ok, so right now there are 4 kittens in our bathroom and 2 resident cats in our house. It all started with a trip to the dry cleaner.

While my partner ducked in to pick up our clothes, a black cat in the window of a neighboring pet shop caught my eye. He stretched out his paw. The tag on his cage said “Dexter.” Drawn by a powerful and inexplicable force, I went inside.

Dexter reached out through the wire cage, batting at me with a soft paw and meowing loudly. The shop attendant opened the cage. Without a word, she placed Dexter in my arms. He snuggled up and started purring. Continue reading

Caitlin Gesell: Being a Trendsetter

23 Jun

This guest post was written by Caitlin Gesell, Coordinator, Development and Marketing for Wardrobe for Opportunity.

Hello “Living in the O” readers! My name is Caitlin and I am a new resident here in the Bay Area. I’m here from Minnesota serving as an AmeriCorps Vista at a wonderful non-profit in downtown Oakland.

At Wardrobe for Opportunity, we support low-income individuals in the Bay Area in their journey to find work and move up in their jobs by offering professional clothing and other professional development resources. I love seeing the transformation that our clients go through after they have received clothing from us or after they call me with news of their new job! Continue reading