A community news source for residents of the HarriOak neighborhood in Oakland, CA.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ode To Oakland

We just found this lovely letter to Oakland, written just last week by an Adams Point resident who posts at Philosophy and Letters.

Here's an excerpt. Please visit her blog for the whole post:

To the City of Oakland:

During the sunset, sunrise or when I look at the trees turning into shade of autumn, or when I see the busses or look at the lake, or even when I’m on my way to work that I have the urge to tell others how I feel about you. However, I don’t know who I should talk to. The trees? My reflection in the lake that’s clouded and green? The crackheads the street or the normal ones standing on the corner of 14th and Broadway about how much I love you? I don’t know whom I should talk to, anyone or anything, so I’m writing you a letter and posting it on this blog, just to tell you know how much I adore you.

On the brink of graduating and participating in the VISTA program I decided to nestle and make my home in Oakland (or the Bay Area in general) because my former supervisor said that the programs are more refined in that part of the state, and it’s the city that reminded me most of Chicago. I know it seemed weird, and most people don’t understand it, unless they’re native s of Chicago. I felt an immediate kinship with the city. Possibly because it was larger than Oceanside, or Riverside, but it wasn’t as large as London, which made me feel alienated for how big it is.

"I love being here for other reasons. Like that there are so many different kinds of people, neighborhoods and things. Outsiders who have never been to Oakland are surprised when they meet people who love it out here. It’s because it’s a gem, and not all parts of Oakland are created equal. It’s mostly known for its violence (I think it’s the 4th most violent city in the nation), particularly in East Oakland, but no one talks about the Taco Trucks, the Old School ice cream trucks that serve Mexican ice cream and soft serve (sometimes in the same truck!) or the sense of community. There’s the Oakland in Glenview (the rich wannabe Piedmont part), Oakland in Downtown (the nightlife part), Oakland by the lake (the central part with the Famer’s Market), Oakland in the West (another residential low income part that’s much like East Oakland, but slightly quieter and where folks say good morning to each other), Oakland in Temescal (where the Berkeley-esque people kick it), Oakland in Montclair (see Glenview) and Oakland and Piedmont — which is actually not Oakland, but they can use our libraries. Each of these neighborhoods are distinctive in different ways, so of course the most common question Oakland residents ask one another is “What part of Oakland do you live?” where it’s ok to represent your address. Believe me– I get a lot of props for living in Adam’s Point even those I may have to leave that neighborhood sadly :-(.

It’s a place where people jog the lake wearing wife beaters, nylon running shorts and gloves or mittens to protect their hands from the cold. It’s a place where people wander the farmer’s markets with their yoga mats and struggle to find the freshest organic produce at Whole Foods. There’s the Oakland where the rich play and the East Oakland which everyone joke about avoiding. There’s College Ave with posh shops, boutiques and restaraunts and International Blvd. which is notorious for having bad things happen to good and bad people alike. But the Oakland I love is when these two worlds meet. The other day I saw a teenager with dark wash skin tight jeans, Kool Aid red extensions and an airbrushed jacket sporting a LIVE FEED bag from the Whole Foods. Those are times when I love this city because how would a tourist know that site even exists?"

photo courtesy of Brad Greenlee and Flickr


unusualrunner said...

I may need your help with rental suggestions in order to stay in the neighborhood. I would've emailed, but I couldn't find an address. Would you mind emailing me?

PS- Thanks for the spotlight! It's great to know someone else reads and appreciates this blog. :-)

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