Friday, September 30, 2011

Jingletown Open Studios

Last Saturday, the Exchange Studios in Jingletown had open studios for a number of the artists living there. It was a much lower-key event than something like the Art Murmur, and so I got a chance to chat with different artists. A nice reminder that bigger isn't always better. And to get out there and check out artists in Oakland.

more photos:
Jingletown Open Studios

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Faces of Oakland

Istarted a new art project a while back, and decided it was finally time to take the wraps off it. It's called Faces of Oakland - the diverse, beautiful faces of people in Oakland. One thing I enjoy at all these great Oakland events I go to is people watching. I love the diversity of Oakland, and find the variety of people beautiful and amazing. As the about page says:
All the people pictured here live, work, shop, and/or play in Oakland. Some I know; most I don’t. I was inspired to create this site in part by the work of Dariusz Majgier, a photographer in Poland who specializes in “5 second street portraits”. I wanted to capture some the diverse, beautiful people I see around Oakland every day.

The site is a work in progress. I'm happy with the general design, but I'm still tweaking the slideshow that plays on the first page. The project itself is ongoing and hopefully never-ending. I'm not as good a portrait photographer as Dariusz, and I'm definitely not as comfortable with asking strangers to take their pictures as he seems to be. So if you see me out there and I ask to take your picture for the project, this is what it's all about.

Faces of Oakland

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

upcoming Oakland events

Once again way too much fun stuff to do in Oakland, and not enough time to do it all.

Waterfront Flicks - Thursday, September 29, 7pm. The final Waterfront Flick of the season, featuring Chocolat. Food from Miss Pearl's, beer from New Belgium and the EBBC, plus trivia, cooking demos, and more. As always, the weather can be variable, so dress in layers!

Oaklandish Party at Fairyland - Friday, September 30, 7pm-10pm. Children's Fairyland is designed for kids. No adults are allowed unless accompanied by one. But Friday, Oaklandish is hosting a party for adults to explore -- join them for free drinks, music, and Oakland-made magic -- and make sure this Oakland institution keeps on living happily ever after! ($10-$15, 21+)

Oaktoberfest - Saturday, October 1, in the Dimond. A family-friendly Octoberfest event in the Dimond, Oaktoberfest features a large biergarden with beers from local vendors, plus music, crafts, kid-friendly activities, and rootbeer garden for the kids. Come and celebrate the German heritage of the Dimond. Or just come and celebrate with local beer. (free)

Black Cowboy Parade - Saturday, October 1, 10am-4pm, DeFremery Park. A long-running event (this is the 37th annual), the Black Cowboy Parade celebrates the contributions of people of color in the "old west". (free)

Parlor and Politics - Saturday, October 1. A celebration of women's suffrage in California, Parlor and Politics takes you to three historic houses to for a tea to learn about what was happening behind the scenes during the women's suffrage movement in California. Camron-Stanford House, Cohen-Bray House, and the Pardee Home. ($30-$40)

Suffrage Parade - Sunday, October 2. Continuing the celebration of women's suffrage, a parade starting Lakeside Park at Lake Merritt.

Plus the usual events:
Piedmont Avenue Art Walk (3rd Thursday)
Bites off Broadway (Fridays)
Art Murmur (1st Friday)
Downtown walking tours (Wednesdays and Saturdays)
Saturday Art Stroll (Saturdays)

Looking further ahead:
Life is Living Festival - Saturday, October 8, 11am-5pm in Defremery Park (free)
Oakland Heritage Alliance house tour - Sunday, October 9, 1pm-5:30pm in Glenview. ($30-$40)
PedalFest - October 22nd. Bikes, beer, food, fun at Jack London Square.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Eat Real Festival 2011

food truck

This past weekend was the Eat Real Festival in Jack London Square. It featured food and drink from Bay Area producers, music, crafts, and a variety of food-related demonstrations, from cheese making to backyard chickens. With food trucks and vendors from all over the Bay Area, there was a lot to choose from.

I got a different look at things this year, as I volunteered to help with setup and beverage service. On Thursday I joined a bunch of other volunteers and some staff for a variety of setup tasks. We packed goody bags for volunteers, set up tables, moved several hundred pounds of flour, prepped signs and did a number of other odd jobs. It was interesting to see all the other prep work going on at the same time -- it's easy to forget how much preparation goes into a festival like this.

beer shed

On Friday, a different set of volunteers showed up early to learn the ins and outs of beverage service. After some training, some of us went to a beverage tent near the main stage, and others went to the main beer shed. The beverage tent was designed to be a quick-in, quick-out option, with a limited number of beer and wine choices. That seemed to work, as we never had long lines build up. (The main beer shed had 10 or so varieties of beer, 10 or so varieties of wine, as well as non-alcoholic drinks, so people had more decisions to make.) It was mostly fun, but it was definitely work, too.

After my shift was over, I wandered about checking out all the exhibitors and listening to the live music, and enjoyed watching people enjoying themselves. I wish I'd had room to sample more of the food and drink -- it looked and smelled wonderful. For some great photos from Eat Real, check out the post on Foodhoe's Foraging. Next year I'll definitely leave more time and energy to enjoy the festival myself.

More photos:
Eat Real Festival

More coverage:
Foodhoe's Foraging
Flickr photo pool

Monday, September 26, 2011

Oakland Underground Film Festival

Last week was the 3rd annual Oakland Underground Film Festival. Other commitments kept me from seeing as much of it as I would have liked, but what I saw, I loved. The Oakland UFF is a showcase for independent film, with a special emphasis on social justice, urban life, and the environment.

Opening night was at the Grand Lake Theater, and featured Yelling to the Sky, and it packs a punch. The Oakland UFF site describes it with:
A graceful churning of sound, color, and chaotic emotion, Victoria Mahoney’s semi-autobiographical directorial and screenwriting debut has been called “the cinematic equivalent of Miles Davis’ “Bitches Brew,” and it burns as it goes down, leaving you slightly dizzy, staring into the clouds. Starring the luminous Zöe Kravitz as Sweetness and Gabourey Sidibe (Precious) as her high school nemesis, Yelling to the Sky is a coming-of-age mash-up of raw emotion where the only answer to the brutal riddle of urban adolescence is to join in the fight for acceptance and survival.

The film doesn't vary from Sweetness' viewpoint, so you never get an answer to some questions, like why her dad changed the way he did. It had great cinematography (especially the dinner scene), all the more amazing for being done all in two takes or less. Victoria Mahoney was there for the showing, and had a Q&A session after. She explained the 'two takes or less' was purely a financial decision; they couldn't afford to shoot all the scenes she wanted if they did more takes. While that pressured the crew, it ended up bringing a live theater-like feeling to the production -- every body brought their best to every scene.

Mahoney described some of resistance she got to making the film, "Nobody's going to want that film", and complaints (from white, over-40 movie types) that it was "too slowed-paced for today's youth". She said she made the film she wanted to make, and kept going back to the responses of the under-20 crowd to make sure she was on track.

Two thumbs up for Yelling to the Sky. See the website for Yelling to the Sky for more info about future viewings.

The rest of the festival featured an eclectic mix of independent films. At the far end of the grittiness scale was an endearing collection of short films featuring the stop-motion heroine Komaneko:

Did you see any of the Oakland Underground Film Festival films? How'd you like them? How was the after party at NIMBY?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Oakland Local

I've been following Oakland Local for some time. It's a non-partisan, non-profit media organization that promotes discourse on local issues that matter. They also provide training and mentoring, and present various local events (like Code for Oakland back in June). You may have seen their booth at local events like Art & Soul.

In simpler terms, it's one of the best sources for news about Oakland. It's by Oaklanders, by people who live and work in the neighborhoods they report in, believe in the issues they report on, and have a wide variety of viewpoints.

I'm proud to say I've started contributing to Oakland Local. At this point it's just the occasional cross-post from here on Our Oakland, but who knows what the future holds. In any event, if you're not familiar with Oakland Local, check it out. Add it to your newsreader or bookmarks today!

More pictures from Tuesday's meetup:
Oakland Local

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

upcoming Oakland events

Lots going on this week in Oakland. The forecast is for more warm, sunny weather, so get out there and enjoy this beautiful city!

Oakland Underground Film Festival - Thursday, September 22 - Saturday, September 24. The Oakland Underground Film Festival is showcase for independent film in Oakland, with a special emphasis on social justice, urban life, and the environment. Thursday is at the Grand Lake (opening Party at the Grand Tavern), Friday and Saturday are near the Coliseum (not far from the Habitat for Humanity development). You can attend all of it or just one night. Read more on Oakland Local. ($10-$15)

Eat Real Festival - Friday, September 23 - Sunday, September 25. Eat Real is a hecka fun food festival at Jack London Square (see my post from 2 years ago --- wait, 2 years? time flies...) It's not just about eating local food (all food is $5 or less) and drinking local beers and wines, it's about making and growing food, too. From cheese making to backyard chickens and goats, an array of displays will show you how it's done. Plus music, a lit fest, and more. One of the food vendors will be the students from the Saint Vincent de Paul Kitchen of Champions program. (free admission)

Open Studio in Jingletown - Saturday September 24, 1-5pm. Exchange Studios is an Oakland Live Work Loft in Jingletown that houses over 20 artists whose work includes photography, painting, sculpture, music, mixed media, and more. They're having an open studio on Saturday. (free)

Blog Action Day - Saturday, September 24. Blog Action Day is once again focusing on climate change. This year is called Moving Planet, and people are gathering at Numi Tea at 10AM then BARTing over to San Francisco for a bigger mobilization there. (free)

Plus the usual events:
Piedmont Avenue Art Walk (3rd Thursday)
Bites off Broadway (Fridays)
Art Murmur (1st Friday)
Downtown walking tours (Wednesdays and Saturdays)
Saturday Art Stroll (Saturdays)

Looking further ahead:
Oaktoberfest - Saturday, October 1, in the Dimond.
Parlor and Politics - Saturday, October 1. A celebration of women's suffrage in California.
Suffrage Parade - Sunday, October 2. Continuing the celebration of women's suffrage, a parade starting Lakeside Park at Lake Merritt.
PedalFest - October 22nd. Bikes, beer, food, fun at Jack London Square.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Creek to Bay Day

Saturday was the 16th annual Oakland Creek to Bay Day to cleanup waterways and shoreline in Oakland. It was part of the International Coastal Cleanup effort around the world.

There were projects all over Oakland, including several not far from home. But I selected a project somewhere I'd never been in Oakland, W.D. Wood Park near Reservoir Hill, between Fruitvale and I-580 (not far from the Altenheim.) Sausal Creek runs along the east side of the park, but as is the case for too many creeks in Oakland, it runs underground in a culvert. The park itself was created when leakage from the nearby reservoir contributed to unstable soil, and an entire neighborhood sank in the 1950s. The Corps of Engineers stabilized the hillside with piles driven deep into the ground, but it was too late for dozens of houses. Unable to safely rebuild, the area was turned into a park in 1976.

A couple of dozen volunteers turned out to help clean up the park. I don't know how many trips Phil made back up the hill with his pickup filled to overflowing, but we filled the dumpster more than half way with 3 hours of work. It would have been completely full, but I enlisted the aid of some of our younger volunteers to help me flatten down and redistribute the load. Besides removing broom and other invasive species, and picking up some trash, we also planted a few native plants in areas that had already been cleared.

In our local brush with fame, KRON Channel 4 showed up to get some footage and interviewed Lisa, one of the coordinators of the cleanup. And city council member, Ignacio De La Fuente showed up to work, too. While he and his staffer showed up late, I think it was because he'd been to another cleanup site in his district earlier. And to his credit, he was working hard when I saw him down the hill. IDLF has worked to get funds for the park to get a play area and other improvements.

Although it was a fairly short day, we got a lot done. Thanks to Lisa and Jill who organized the cleanup, and all the volunteers who worked hard. But cleaning up Wood Park isn't a once-a-year thing; a group of neighbors is out there every 3rd Saturday to work. And very likely there's a neighborhood group that does similar things at a park near you. So get out there and make Oakland better!

More photos:
Creek to Bay Day

More coverage:
Oakland North

Monday, September 19, 2011

Park(ing) Day

Piedmont Ave. parklet

Friday was Park(ing) Day, a world-wide event where parking spaces were temporarily turned into mini "parklets" for people to enjoy. First, a huge shout out to Ruth Miller (of Walk Oakland Bike Oakland and Oakland Local), who was a major part of Park(ing) Day happening here in Oakland. And thank you to everyone who made the different parklets around Oakland happen.

I started by visiting the parklet in front of Shimizu Sushi on Piedmont Avenue. It was done with the support of Danny, the head chef and owner, but it was a couple of area residents (thanks, Jennifer!) who made this parklet happen for the 2nd year in a row. The parklet was comfy, with patio furniture over a layer of bark chips.

Then I rolled down to Grand Ave. to check out the parklet at Farley's East. This was the second year for this parklet as well. It filled two parking spaces, with one half given over to comfy chairs and plants, and the other to mats for yoga and a couple of exercise machines. Not surprisingly, I saw BART board member and former East Bay Bike Coalition executive director Robert Raburn there -- what better place to see someone who's dedicated their career to biking and transit?

East Bay Meditation Center parklet

A short walk away on Broadway was another parklet in front of the East Bay Meditation Center. This was the first year for the parklet, and while it had the support of the EBMC, community members made it happen. Thanks, Christy and Nichole!

A short distance away on Telegraph across from the Fox Theater was a parklet in front of the Marquee Lofts. I saw @dto510 and @vsmoothe there, who picked things up after the resident who started the parklet couldn't do it. Thanks especially to VSmoothe who brought furniture and decorations from home for the parklet.

Over on 17th, PGA Design had a very creative parklet, designed to look like a campsite. From hiking socks drying in a tree, to 'stumps' to sit on, to s'mores cooked over the campfire, they kept the theme running. (PGA Design did the landscape architecture at the Tassafaronga apartments, where the Habitat East Bay Kinsell Commons development is.)

Back over to Broadway, Oaklandish and Hank and Frank Bicycles had a parklet featuring free bike tuneups, and food from El Taco Bike. Around the corner from them on 14th was a parklet by TransForm which had a table for games and was making smoothies in a bike-powered blender.

Actual Cafe parklet

Then it was a longer haul over to Actual Cafe. I'm admittedly biased (because I helped build it), but this was the most beautiful of the parklets. Part of that is because it's designed to be (hopefully) permanent, so it had more finish work put into it.

I was hoping to hook up with Ruth Miller after that at Cole Coffee for a bike tour of all the Oakland parklets along with Oakland North, but after a long day, I was happy to make it there at all.

But wait, there's more! [--More-- (66%) for you Unix nerds] Some of the parklets were on Saturday instead, to take advantage of weekend foot traffic. (And in fine Oakland style, the Actual Cafe parklet was there not only Park(ing) Day on Friday, but Saturday and Sunday, too.) So Saturday I headed out again to check out the parklets on Lakeshore and Grand Ave.

Lakeshore parklet

First up on Saturday was a parklet in front of Noah's Bagels on Lakeshore. Put together by area merchants and volunteers, it featured live music, games, and a couple of nice seating areas. Unlike the parklets in Downtown which suffered from shading from nearby buildings, they had to bring in some umbrellas for shade. I had a great time relaxing there -- I just needed a cold beer to round things out.

Just down the street in front of Arizmendi Bakery were not one but two parklets. Local merchants and residents are hoping to make the spot in front of Arizemendi into a permanent parklet. It would mean the loss of one parking space, but would add some much needed sidewalk seating to the area. I saw city council member Pat Kernighan visiting the parklets there. Around the way was yet another parklet, with some yummy treats from new Grand Ave. bakery Boniere Bakery (formerly in Alameda), books to read, and comfy seats. I met some Oakland history fans (and their awesome dog), and chatted with Oakland North editor Cynthia Gorney and neighborhood supporter Ken Katz.

I talked with a bunch of people, both about Park(ing) Day and Oakland in general, but I still made it over to Actual Cafe to check how day 2 was going there. I chatted with some of the neighboring businesses that we built the permanent planter/benches for, and relaxed with a beer. I confirmed my earlier "best of" opinion of the Actual Cafe parklet and talked with some of the area residents who helped build it. I'm looking forward to spending more time in the parklet -- I hope the city gives the go-ahead to make it permanent.

More coverage:
Oakland North

Lots more pictures:

Saturday, September 17, 2011

greetings, new readers!

Greetings to new readers, whether I met you at PARK(ing) Day or some other Oakland event; I just met you somewhere in my wanderings across Oakland; you're a new reader from my recent posts on Oakland Local; or you just found the blog via Google or another search engine: hello and thanks for reading Our Oakland!

Special shout-outs to some folks I met recently: Jennifer, Christy, Pat, Nicole, Jill, Lisa, Phil, the really cool Aliza, Maryanne, Justin, Said, Gracie, Cynthia, Sam, Jim, Ken, Franklin, Pamela, Ignacio, Richard, Abbey, Sarah, and all those whose names I've already forgotten (I'm terrible with names, alas). And my thanks if you were out doing something to make Oakland better.

If you're looking for a post on PARK(ing) Day or Creek to Bay Day, I'll those up as soon as possible. I'm too busy this weekend out having fun and meeting more of you wonderful folks!

Some things I specifically mentioned to various people:

Friday, September 16, 2011

signs: 1/4lb Burger Xpress

1/4 lb. Giant Burger Xpress

Part of the 1/4 lb. Giant Burger chain, but with a different name and type of sign. And barely in Oakland -- Emeryville is just to the south and west. Trees and billboards make it tough to get a good shot of this with the sun on it. Any North Oaklanders know if they still light it at night?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Creek to Bay Day cleanup this Saturday

Oakland has lots of waterways, from Temescal Creek in the north to San Leandro Creek that empties into the estuary near the airport. The creeks and lakes grace parks across Oakland. Unfortunately, they're local low spots so garbage tends to collect in them as water flows in.

So on Saturday, September 17, people all across Oakland will work to clean them up during the 16th annual Oakland Creek to Bay Day. It's part of a larger event, International Coastal Cleanup Day, during which thousands of volunteers all over the globe will clean up their local waterways. Besides trash pickup, some locations will be removing invasive plants and other activities.

  • The first 1,000 volunteers will receive a reusable aluminum water bottle.
  • All volunteers will receive seed packets and other treats from event supporters.
  • Dress appropriately; wear long pants and sturdy closed-toe shoes.
  • No pre-registration required (unless you're bringing a group of 10 or more).

I blogged recently about volunteering to make Oakland better. This is a great opportunity to get your feet wet (as it were) with volunteering. It's 3 hours, with no special training or long-term commitment required. So get out there and help make Oakland better!

See the website for more details and a list of locations.

View Creek to Bay Day 2011 in a larger map

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

upcoming Oakland events

No festivals (that I know of), but still lots of fun stuff happening in Oakland. And if you haven't done one of the regular events (e.g., city walking tours, Bites off Broadway, etc.), you should definitely check them out. For example, check out Oaktown Life's post on the Piedmont Avenue Art Walk. And check the events calendar at the right for even more events.

Waterfront Flicks - Thursday, September 15, sundown at Jack London Square. This week's movie is No Reservations. There will be food from Miss Pearl's Jam House, beer from New Belgium via East Bay Bike Coalition, and cooking demos. (free)

Park(ing) day - Friday, September 16. PARK(ing) Day is an annual, worldwide event that invites citizens everywhere to transform metered parking spots into temporary parks for the public good. Check the hashtag #oakparklet on Twitter, and Walk Oakland Bike Oakland for more info. (free)

Creek to Bay Cleanup - Saturday, September 17. All across Oakland people will be helping cleanup Oakland and the environment at the 16th annual Creek to Bay Day. Find an event near you. (free)

Taste of Temescal - Tuesday, September 20, 6-8:30pm. The 3rd annual Taste of Temescal features an evening of food, drink, live music and fabulous prizes. Proceeds benefit: Emerson Elementary School, Claremont Middle School. Lions Center for the Blind, Women's Cancer Resource Center, and Oakland Tech High School. ($30)

Plus the usual events:
Piedmont Avenue Art Walk (3rd Thursday)
Bites off Broadway (Fridays)
Art Murmur (1st Friday)
Downtown walking tours (Wednesdays and Saturdays)
Saturday Art Stroll (Saturdays)

Looking further ahead:
Blog Action Day - Saturday, September 24.
Oaktoberfest - Saturday, October 1, in the Dimond.
Parlor and Politics - Saturday, October 1. A celebration of women's suffrage in California.
Suffrage Parade - Sunday, October 2. Continuing the celebration of women's suffrage, a parade starting Lakeside Park at Lake Merritt.
PedalFest - October 22nd. Bikes, beer, food, fun at Jack London Square.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

taking the train

JLS Amtrak

Last week I went to Sacramento for work, and was able to take the train to get there. It was a double bonus -- a spare the air day, and it was hecka fun.

I rode down to the Amtrak station at Jack London Square to catch an early train for the capitol. It couldn't have been easier; I locked my bike, walked into the station, used a machine to buy my ticket, then stepped out into the early morning light to wait for the train to arrive. I could have even taken my bike with me if I'd wanted, as there are racks on the lower level of each car (hear that, BART?). My boss got on in Martinez, and we watched the scenery go by until our arrival in Sacramento.

It took a bit longer than driving (2 hours vs. 1 hour, 33 minutes), but was a lot more fun and a lot less stressful (particularly coming home at commute time.) Taking into account parking and gas, it was probably cheaper than driving, too. A highly recommended way to get to Sacramento from Oakland, that gives a unique view of the Oakland waterfront, the delta, and beyond.

Monday, September 12, 2011

signs: Happy Time Liquors

From the other week when I was in West Oakland for the walking tour with Luke. Not a great sign by any stretch, but one of relatively few signs in West Oakland.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Actual Cafe -- still lovin' it

building planters

I first blogged about Actual Cafe almost a year and a half ago. I don't get there as often as I'd like, because it's about as far north in Oakland as you can get, not on the way to anywhere else in Oakland for me. But I loved it then, and I still love it.

I was over there last Sunday to help with the rebuilding of their parklet for Park(ing) Day. Park(ing) Day temporarily transforms parking spaces into mini-parks. But Actual Cafe, the Golden Gate Community Alliance, Bike Man Dan, A Place for Sustainable Living, and others from the community are also working to improve the neighborhood. In addition to the parklet, we worked on permanent planters to put in front of nearby businesses like James and the Giant Cupcake. A few businesses got concrete planters from the city some time back, but there aren't more for the other businesses. So rather wait until the city has money again, the community decided to make things better themselves.

But improving the community is only part of why I like Actual Cafe. They've got really good food, a nice drink selection and friendly staff, like you'd expect from any good coffee shop. But they've also got indoor bike parking. Regular art exhibits. Live music every week. Laptop-free weekends to encourage real community instead of virtual. Next you're in the area, check it out.

If you'd like to help with the parklet and the neighborhood planters, come by tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon, if you're not off doing something else to make Oakland better. Note: the parklet work is being done at the Center for Sustainable Living, across San Pablo on 64th.

more pictures:
Actual Cafe

Thursday, September 8, 2011

love Oakland? make it better

Ilove Oakland. I hecka love it. I hella love it. That's why I write Our Oakland. It's clear a lot of other people love it, too. But I think all of us agree some things could be better.

Back in August, the Ella Baker Center organized the Throw Down for the Town, a service festival with volunteer opportunities all over Oakland. At the celebration afterwards, one speaker said something like "we should do this every month", which would be pretty awesome.

But you don't need to wait for someone else to organize it -- get out there and volunteer. Whether you help build affordable homes with Habitat for Humanity, sort food for the hungry with Alameda County Community Food Bank, or help kids in Oakland schools, there's something out there for you to do to make Oakland better.

Saturday is a volunteer fair put together by Volunteering for Oakland. From 1-4pm at Westlake Middle School. Find out the needs for an Oakland school near you.

Sunday is the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. For some it will be an opportunity to quietly reflect. For others, it can be an opportunity to get out and make your community better -- it's also a national service day.

Next Sunday is an Oakland Creek to Bay Day cleanup. People all over Oakland will be cleaning up Oakland creeks and parks.

Love Oakland? Get out there and make it even better.

Feel more Oakland love:
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

upcoming Oakland events

Asomewhat abbreviated events post, as that annoying but necessary work thing has been taking up more time of late. Also check the events calendar in the menu to the right; it's got a few events not described here.

Remember 9/11 - September 11, 5:30pm-8:30pm. Join the Oakland Symphony Chorus as they offer a free, participatory concert commemorating the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 events.

Gatsby Summer Afternoon - September 11. an afternoon with the Art Deco Society of California. Aficionados of the 1920s and 30s step back to a time when elegance was a way of life and the Charleston and Fox Trot were all the rage. This is not a spectator event; every guest is part of the scene in their vintage best.

Park(ing) day - Friday, September 16. PARK(ing) Day is an annual, worldwide event that invites citizens everywhere to transform metered parking spots into temporary parks for the public good. If you're on Twitter, check the hashtag #oakparklet for more info.

Plus the usual events:
Piedmont Avenue Art Walk (3rd Thursday)
Bites off Broadway (Fridays)
Art Murmur (1st Friday)
Downtown walking tours (Wednesdays and Saturdays)
Saturday Art Stroll (Saturdays)

For more, check the Visit Oakland event calendar.

Looking further ahead:
Taste of Temescal - Tuesday, September 20.
Blog Action Day - Saturday, September 24.
Oaktoberfest - Saturday, October 1, in the Dimond.
Parlor and Politics - Saturday, October 1. A celebration of women's suffrage in California.
Suffrage Parade - Sunday, October 2. Continuing the celebration of women's suffrage, a parade starting Lakeside Park at Lake Merritt.
PedalFest - October 22nd. Bikes, beer, food, fun at Jack London Square.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Preservation Park walking tour

Park House

Saturday morning I went on the Preservation Park Oakland walking tour. It was the only one of the eight I hadn't been on yet. As with last week's OHA tour of the Dimond, it was led by Oakland historian and author Dennis Evanosky. Even though it was cut a bit short because of private event at Preservation Park, it was another great tour. We had a large group for our short walk around the park.

While writing this post, I discovered a nice series of short videos about the different structures at Preservation Park by Annalee Allen, columnist, author and director of the walking tours program. I'll link to those where appropriate.

There are 16 historic buildings (15 of them houses) at Preservation Park, but only 5 of them are original to the location. The others were all moved there from other locations around Oakland, some as close as across the street and some as far as from the Dimond. The people who lived in them were a who's who of well-to-do Oaklanders from the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. The ones in their original locations are all north of 13th Street. (video)

ornate details

The first house we saw was the Remillard House. Pierre Remillard was a French Canadian who came west originally for mining. He eventually settled in Oakland, and through hard work began a brick-making business that became very successful -- the Palace Hotel in San Francisco was built with Remillard bricks. A young Jack London took French lessons at the Remillard House from his daughter, Lillian (later Countess Lillian Remillard Dandini). (video)

Next door is the Ginn House, of Ginn & Co. Publishing fame. The company still exists, though as part of the larger Penguin Group of publishers. Frederick Burrell Ginn and wife Mary Crocker lived there. The house was later used by a men's social club, the Nile Club. The Ginn House is Arts and Crafts style, one of the only non-Victorians in Preservation Park. Next door to it is a social hall, which is still used for events and meetings. (video)

At the heart of Preservation Park is the Latham-Ducel fountain, or as it's more popularly known, the Diana fountain. It was originally on the Latham estate near Lakeside Park, but was salvaged from there. After a number of moves in the 60s and 70s, it was rediscovered and brought to the middle of Preservation Park. (video). The Lathams also erected the fountain at the intersection of Broadway and Telegraph.

Nearby is the Queen Anne-style Thornton House. Thornton is listed as a "capitalist". The home was built when the Sather House and Garden occupied the lot across the street. Jane Sather donated UC Berkeley's Sather Gate and Sather Tower in memory of her late husband, Peder Sather.

Higgins House

In the northwest corner of the park is a beautiful Italianate Victorian. It was built by lumber baron Elisha Higgins, and has amazing details. Apparently he put his employees to work on carving all the fine woodwork. It shows a number of features common to classic Victorians, including brackets under the eaves, posts and other details carved to look like stone, and fine carvings all over the place.

On the other side of the bandstand is the White House, which currently houses the Preservation Park office. It was owned by Ellen Gould White and James White, who founded the Seventh Day Adventist church. The White House was one of the houses moved for the building of the I-980 freeway. (video)

There's lots more history about the houses and the people who lived in them than I have time to write about, so here's a brief summary:
  • Remillard House - Pierre Remillard (brick baron)
  • Ginn House - Frederick Burrell Ginn (publisher) and wife Mary Crocker
  • Nile Club - members-only group of Oakland's male elite
  • Thornton House - Thornton ("capitalist")
  • Higgins House - Elisha Higgins (lumber baron)
  • White House - Ellen Gould White and James White (founded 7th Day Adventists)
  • Knox-Buckley House - Henry Knox (dentist), later John and Catherine Buckley.
  • Bartling House - William Bartling (bookbinding)
  • Park House - Charles O. Park (painted train cars for Central Pacific)
  • Robinson House - Gertrude and W.H. Robinson. (fruit wholesaler; house moved from the Dimond, then called Fruit Vale)
  • Standeford House - Miss Stella Standeford, later married John F. Conners (Oakland Enquirer)
  • Bauske House - Reinhold Bauske (dentist)
  • Trowbridge House - Lillie Delger and new husband Henry Trowbridge; father Frederick Wiliam Delger (Oakland's first millionaire)
  • Jacobs House - Jacobs (tailor); house was built as two apartments
  • Raymond House - William J. Raymond (UC physics professor)
  • Hunt House - George C. Hunt (co-owned the City Hall Livery Stables)

more reading:
all 13 videos
Pardee Home Museum website

lots more pictures:

Monday, September 5, 2011

site maintenance

One feature of Our Oakland is the extensive blog roll of Oakland blogs. At the moment, however, one or more of those blogs appears to have been infected with malware. So for now, I've temporarily removed the list. I'll return it as soon as I figure out how to safely add it back.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

walking tour: the Dimond shines!

Last Sunday was the last Oakland Heritage Alliance walking tour of the season, led by local historian and author Dennis Evanosky.

the Boy Scout hut

A large group met in Dimond Park near the Boy Scout Hut. Long-time residents of the Dimond knew where that was, but I had to look it up, and it apparently caused confusion for a number of people. Regardless, the Boy Scout Hut was a great place to meet. It was originally a cottage built by Dennis Dimond, using adobe bricks from the Peralta homestead. Dennis was the son of Hugh Dimond, who purchased the land in 1867.

Hugh made his fortune in the mercantile and liquor trade. In 1873 he retired from business life at age 41. He decided to settle on the 267 acres he had purchased in 1867 in the Oakland foothills along Sausal Creek, an area including the Luelling spread near the cherry orchards and the hay farms. While the old Luelling house was being enlarged and refurbished for his family, he and his wife traveled in Europe. Daughter Nellie was born in Switzerland in 1873, and son Hugh in France in 1875, son Dennis back in Oakland in 1876.

They moved into their new home in 1877. Eyewitness accounts say the home was an imposing two-story white wooden structure surrounded by a spacious one-story veranda. Dimond Avenue began as the carriage entrance to the Dimond place, which was situated just beyond the grove of redwood trees in today's Dimond Park.

A big part of the Dimond's history is Sausal Creek (read more about the creek), from the logging of the redwoods in the upper canyon to the construction of a reservoir*, to the current state of much of the creek being underground in culverts. The presence of the creek as a water supply was no doubt part of why it was a desirable place to settle.

(* Caspar Hopkins, an early settler of the Fruitvale District, formed the Sausal Creek Water Company and built a dam and reservoir at the upper end of Dimond Canyon near where Highway 13 is now. The reservoir later became part of the East Bay Water Company and remained until the early 1920s.)

The Altenheim

We got more bits and pieces of Dimond history as we walked along, including seeing where one of the houses in Preservation Park came from. Our next big stop was the Altenheim senior housing. Various history buffs on the tour were excited because in the past the OHA tours hadn't gotten access, and it's on the National Register of Historic Places. An added bonus is that we had Elke, one of the residents, to show us around.

The Altenheim was founded by San Francisco and Oakland's most prominent German-American families, including the Sutros and others, as an upscale home for older German-Americans to live out their golden years. Adolph Sutro wanted it built in San Francisco, and even donated land in Sutro Heights, but it was ultimately built in Oakland. The original structure was built in 1893 (finished in 1894), and was a towering wooden building which burned in 1908. Undaunted, they rebuilt, constructing the current building in 1909. (It's since undergone a major renovation, and reopened in 2010.)

Tepper's - from the Oakland Tribune

From there, we walked over to the heart of the Dimond, where Fruitvale Ave. and MacArthur Blvd. meet. Along the way we saw where Sausal Creek briefly resurfaces, and the location of a former beer garden. The Dimond was home to not one but 3 beer gardens. The building where Charlie Tepper's beer garden and hotel was still stands, though other structures have been built in front of it. There was also the Neckhaus Garden, and Bauerhofer's, which featured a boxing ring and was where "toughs and their janes" hung out. But most (in)famous was the "Hermitage House". 'Gentlemen' were picked up and discreetly transported there to be entertained by "French dancing girls".

There's lots more to the history of the Dimond that was covered, including the Rhoda family, how the Presbyterians kicked out the Hermitage, real estate development by F.M. "Borax" Smith's Realty Syndicate, and more. Another great OHA tour, worth checking out when it's offered again.

lots more pictures: