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» District southeast of Lake Merritt organizes to create neighborhood of their dreams

Clinton is a mostly undiscovered, rapidly-changing neighborhood to the southeast of Lake Merritt not far from Jack London Square. In Clinton, diversity is the name of the game: there are Victorian mansions next to bungalows, Julia Morgan Craftsmans, and homes built in every decade. The makeup of residents is just as varied…

Within a month of moving in, we had plugged into several neighborhood groups, some made up of people who had worked hard for decades to preserve and improve the neighborhood, and some who were more recent additions to the neighborhood, working hard to build a community and make positive changes.

Energized by these meetings, my partner and I started a nonprofit, Oakland’s Brooklyn Neighborhood Beautification Project, to raise funds to beautify the sidewalk landscape strips and public medians as a means to fight illegal dumping, graffiti and crime in the area. The funds raised go to neighbors who need financial assistance in planting their sidewalks, and who want to be part of the project.

With the help of many neighbors, we have installed a library box in a public space and filled it with books of all languages for the neighborhood children to read. We landscaped three city medians, a private sidewalk where prostitution was occurring, and several other homes. The graffiti and illegal dumping stopped in the areas where we did our beautification, and now there is a much more steady flow of people taking leisurely walks, going for runs and bike rides, as the spaces feel more safe.

We also hope to plant fruit trees and a garden along with some neighbors at an apartment building near the library box we installed. The tenants used to look at us with suspicion when we walked by with our dogs. Now their kids play in the streets and they say hello and talk with us. It is so valuable to feel at home out on the streets.”

read more: oaklandlocal, 25.01.14.

"SF to the Diablo Range, Morgan Territory, Henry Coe and finally, into Morgan Hill.."
» 20 ways to not be a gentrifier in Oakland

Gentrification is the word of the day in Oakland. Everywhere you look people are asking, “Am I a gentrifier? Is it bad? Should I care?” What people don’t seem to realize is it isn’t the mere act of moving into a neighborhood that makes you a gentrifier; it’s what you do once you get there.

If you come into someone’s home, do you immediately start rearranging it and moving furniture in? Do you throw away their family photo albums and tell them they have to go to bed at an earlier time or play their music at a lower volume?

No, of course not. You get to know each other, decide if you get along, and, once your host has decided you can stay, you ask politely if there is space to put your stuff. So why do you think you can move into someone else’s neighborhood and start making it over as your own? 

2. Recognize all the people outside of your door as your neighbors, even if they look different from you and live under different circumstances. This includes the homeless who sleep on the street, the drug dealers who sell outside the liquor store, and the prostitutes walking your streets. Replace the words homeless, drug dealer, and prostitute with the word neighbor. Treating these folks with respect and dignity from the beginning will give you later leverage to talk to them about changing their behavior and getting out of the life.

3. Change the way you look at said neighbors by changing the language you use to describe them. Think about the motivations for their actions. Instead of “that prostitute was out all night selling her body” think “my neighbor (insert name here) was forced by her pimp to stand out in the cold all night and have sex with multiple men she didn’t know.” See if that doesn’t change your opinion of her.

13. Recognize Oakland has a very unique and vibrant history and culture, and you were attracted to this city because of the energy that is already here. You should be here to add to that history and culture, not to erase it. We are not San Francisco. We don’t want to be San Francisco. So please don’t try to remake our city in San Francisco’s image. And remember, you don’t gain culture by eating a burrito. You gain culture by engaging in a real and meaningful manner with the person who makes the burrito.

read more: oaklandlocal, 30.01.14.

» An ugly duckling turns back into Swan’s in Old Oakland

In February of 1995, Swan’s Market, the former home of a low-cost department store that occupied the block of Old Oakland bounded by 9th, 10th, Clay and Washington Streets was a blank, boarded-up block. Only the terra cotta medallions decorating the walls and the iconic Swan’s sign were visible. Many of the surrounding blocks were empty lots.

Yet Joshua Simon, a senior project manager for the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC), chose to take Ruth Silber there on their first date. He had a vision for the property he wanted to share. “We were going to create a place that was affordable where small businesses could grow and thrive,” Simon said. “Our idea was to have 4th Street for the rest of us.”

It was five more years before the vision Simon shared with his future wife became a reality. EBALDC believed that, if Swan’s was to be the anchor for a vibrant neighborhood, it needed to include diverse elements, so it included affordable and market-rate housing, plus office and retail space. Financing and building the complex project took time.

When the Housewives Market’s original building closed in 1999, Raymond Gee, owner of Taylor’s Sausage, became one of the first retail tenants in the new incarnation of Housewives in Swan’s. He said it took some time for people to come back to the neighborhood, but he sees many reasons to be optimistic: “Now people walk their dogs. People walk around at night.”

read more: oaklandlocal, 24.01.13.

Transformation of North San Jose into urban tech hub under way.
…crucial to the city’s success in transforming North San Jose will be attracting high-profile companies. That effort recently got a boost when Samsung broke ground on what is expected to be an iconic campus on First Street near East Tasman Drive. The complex will be dominated by a pair of 10-story office towers and total 680,000 square feet.
To encourage more projects and corporate expansions in North San Jose, city officials have slashed development fees, cut red tape for developers and are allowing higher density than was previously permitted…
"Higher density is the future, and if the demand is there, then it makes sense to build more in North San Jose," said Chad Leiker, a vice president with realty firm Kidder Mathews. "San Jose is betting on light rail and on BART to really make this work."
read more: oaklandtribune/sanjosemercury, 21.01.14.
» Why I love Oakland, in four photos

Oakland isn’t built for praise from 21st Century media. The city is defined largely by the 50 or so negative headlines it receives every year. Those are more than balanced 200-fold by positive stories. But few if any of those 10,000 smaller headlines are going to get the public’s attention.

It’s not a city that can be explained in 140 characters or less, or with a series of GIFs. And yet it’s so easy to take it down with a few words. Occupy. Murder rate. State takeover. Fruitvale BART. Jean Quan.

Oakland falls easily into misconception. And yet …

Oakland is a city filled with fragile beauty, and triumphs that feel truly cinematic.

That’s the fight that defines this city. We’re often engaged in a losing cause, but it’s still worth the effort, because the fight makes us better people. Live in Oakland and your senses get heightened. 

peter hartlaub, sfgate, 22.01.14.

4th Annual* Livermore Wine Ride


I declared (to myself) a 2014 bikeit motto “The Year of Dirt”. Not extreme mountain biking or log-jumping, but riding to the sort of places only accessible by a fire road or dirt trail. For example, a break in a day of wine tasting to explore dirt paths to an abandoned winery being reclaimed by vines…



That was just one part of a great day— a casual, scenic ride through Livermore, for the fourth year in a row (a small group of 5 this time, not the rolling party of 31 from last time).

This time we explored a number of new or not-on-the-bike-coalition-map (built in the past 5 years) routes, including some 4-6 lane expressways through new subdivisions (but with well-marked bike lanes and bike-triggered traffic lights— miles of riding at a time without a single red light or stop).



Riding past small airports advertising biplane rides (and with many small planes taking off).

Paved paths through open brushland and light tree cover:



The carefully-maintained bike paths along Tesla Rd (with white and yellow guidelines):


Picnic lunch and wine tasting break at Concannon (they’re very welcoming of picnickers, with tables and chairs to use even).





Continuing on, along some of my favorite paved bikes-only paths through fields of vines and the low rolling hills:



Rolling into Sycamore Grove Park, creepy twisted almond tree groves like something out of Oz:


The abandoned and collapsing vineyard buildings:



And a ride back to civilization along dirt… with a Great Blue Heron, gophers, massive fearless vultures above a deer corpse, and other wildlife.


About 30 miles round trip from the Dublin BART station, and mostly flat….


gotta do this ride next time i’m back in the east bay!!

» Suburban living linked to bigger carbon footprint

a more local article re: the recent UC Berkeley study:

The [Bay Area] region expects to add 2.1 million people in the next 25 years, bringing the population to 9 million. Commutes could lengthen as rising housing costs drive residents from San Francisco, and as new residents move in droves to the more affordable Alameda and Santa Clara counties.

To ease pressure on the region’s transportation systems, Plan Bay Area, the region’s outline for development until 2040, calls for concentrating housing in neighborhoods within walking distance of public transit and amenities like grocery stores and restaurants.

That reflects an increasing desire of people of all ages to live in walkable communities, said Jeff Hobson, deputy director of TransForm, an Oakland group that advocates for public transportation.

Having a low-carbon lifestyle is not just for hipsters,” he said. “It should also be for soccer moms and NASCAR dads and Instagram teens.”

sfgate, 14.01.14.

» Streetsblog Seeks Freelance Reporters in the East Bay

Streetsblog SF is looking for experienced freelance journalists in the East Bay who are knowledgeable and passionate about livable streets and sustainable transportation issues — from public space expansions like the botched Latham Square project, to open streets events like Oaklavia and Sunday Streets Berkeley, to efforts to build safer bike lanes and improve service on BART and AC Transit.

East Bay reporters would be expected to cover public hearings and press conferences, and seek interviews with advocates and policymakers.

Streetsblog freelancers are paid per article. If you or someone you know fits the bill, send resumes and writing samples to

aaah I would! if i were still in the Bay! and if reblogging news on tumblr counts as journalism experience! :D

ahah but it would be good to improve my writing. 

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