Monday, June 27, 2011

new in Oakland

Ignite! Expo

On Friday I headed down to Frank Ogawa Plaza for the 6th annual Ignite! New Business Expo. It celebrates new businesses in Oakland, and is put on by Urban Fire, which provides entrepreneurship training for people in Oakland who want to start their own business. This year's was smaller than past years, probably reflecting the still struggling economy, but there were still some interesting businesses to check out. There were a number of service-oriented businesses like Mac Made Easy, which provides IT services for Mac users. There were several new food vendors, too, including Besto Pesto (which is hecka tasty; I came home with two containers of it) and Blackberry Soul Baking Co. (also hecka tasty; I came home with a blackberry cobbler in my stomach.)

There's a nice writeup on Oakland North about the expo. A complete list of exhibitors is on the Urban Fire site.

Lake Merritt realignment

On my ride over to downtown, it was such a beautiful day that I swung around Lake Merritt to enjoy it. I noticed that more of the road realignment has been implemented. Instead of having the main flow of southbound traffic continue on Lakeshore, now it's directed onto 1st Avenue. That was always an option before, but now it's the default. This makes it quieter around the lake, and eventually Lakeshore will dead end instead of connecting into 12th St. Pedestrians and cyclists will be able to continue that way, though.

For more info and lots of pictures, check out Erik Niemann's great Oakland 12th Street Project site. For a different look, read Angela Woodall's recent column in the Tribune.

After the Ignite! Expo, I headed over to Commonwealth Cafe and Pub, where I hooked up with Clay Graham of welocally. I'd met Clay briefly at Code for Oakland, so it was no great surprise he wanted to talk about an app for supporting local businesses in Oakland. His company is working on a service that would be part Oakland Grown, part Yelp, part Foursquare, part Google Maps, and be fed in part by local blogs. I like the idea, not because Clay likes my blog, but because I'm a big fan of local in general and Oakland in particular.

East Oakland Sports Center

Something new in East Oakland is the East Oakland Sports Center. It's not far from the Habitat developments in Sobrante Park and Woodland (which is across the street from the new East Oakland Public Library). There will be an opening ceremony Thursday, at 5:30pm, with tours available. Read more in the Tribune article, and see some pictures on the AIACC website. Thanks to Zennie62 for the heads up on the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

And last, a personal note on something new for me. Clay didn't recognize me at first because I currently don't look like my Twitter avatar, in which I'm sporting a beard (which I had when we met at Code for Oakland, too.) At the moment, I'm more or less clean-shaven. The beard comes and goes, depending my level of laziness about shaving.

That's some of what's new in Oakland, and enough for one post. You can see more pictures from the Ignite! Expo and some pics from Friday's Bites on Broadway here:
new in Oakland - June, 2011

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