Two Degrees of Separation in Oakland

Oscar Grant Memorial

Welcome to my view of Oakland with a little bit of the rest of the world thrown in. I’m just one of the many bloggers, activists, or artists, and entrepreneurs that you’ll find in our little city. Like other cities, we also have our share of criminals, corporatists, chronically underemployed, and generally cranky people.

I don’t mind cranky, in fact, I frequently am; but I do try to find Oakland-centric solutions to our problems and do not expect perfection in a place where over 400,000 disparate folks try to live together.

I think it’s one of the saddest things about Oakland is that we spend so much time focusing on our deficiencies. Is it the old inferiority complex that results from being in the shadow of the former, Baghdad by the Bay-before that became a bad thing- or something more complex?

Lots of folks came to the Bay Area from other parts of the world because they had a utopian fantasy about life in the “perfect” climate where, according to the movies, there will always be a bridge- Golden or Bay- view in their windows.

After a sojourn in San Francisco, they realized they rarely saw either bridge and had to work multiple jobs to keep up that studio rental with the perpetual smell of urine by the front door, or there was no room for their growing families. So, they moved to the warm side of the Bay amid the wailings and warnings of friends and family that Oakland was a place where it’s always-according to the TV news-a dark and stormy night.

Spring in February, Oakland

In Oakland they have found wonderfully unique neighborhoods with quirky hole in the wall coffee shops and eateries and, of course, that smell of urine by the front door but cheaper, sunnier, and more family-oriented.

Having reached the end of the continent and tried the city at the tip of it, they have settled in for the long term. Now the complaining really begins so lots of what bloggers write about is really who’s complaining about what and whose complaints should count.

So here I am. I’ve got my own complaints but I always believe that there is a solution that we can work out together-I don’t like to see us divided. Anyway, when we are divided we should understand on what grounds we disagree and how we still might find some of it to be common.

And, there’s lots of work to be done. I went to high school in a small town/suburb on the East coast. Even though my high school was small, it still functioned well because most of us were in more than one club, sport, or other school activity.

Like my high school, Oaklanders are often engaged in multiple ways with their schools, neighborhoods, shops, or political groups. You’ve heard about 6 degrees of separation but in Oakland there are only two. Between those two, interesting things are always happening in our city. Read on-

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