From our afternoon at the Oakland Museum of California!
I feel like the majority of my writing about my Micah journey- whether it be through assigned papers, blog and forum posts, or personal journal entries- has been focused on my non-profit work, readings, and other things directly related to the Micah program and the communities we are in. One community that I want to focus on is the community of Oakland and my experiences I have had of Oakland. Since I work and live at APC, every adventure off of the base is for work-free, non-academic moments. These adventures have made me fall in love with Oakland. There is just an unexplained, vibrant energy that you immediately feel when you step on the streets of Oakland. While unintentially academic, these free-time adventures have taught me a lot and I have been able to make a lot of unusual connections with the Micah program.
One Monday, Emily and I were able to take the bus to Lake Merritt and have lunch in a prime spot along the lake. Seeing everyone run, bike, and walk by gave me the perfect example of just how diverse Oakland is racially, by age, socioeconomically, etc. Sitting in the few cafes we have tried and even going grocery shopping, I notice also that old and young people alike of all different ethnicities, dress, etc. walk in. I love seeing people in all these forms and I am always reminded of the Maya Angelou quote “in diversity there is beauty and there is strength”.
There are so many old buildings in Oakland like the Grand Theatre, the Fox Theatre, and the countless Victorian style homes. Some buildings are dilapidated while other are restored to maintain their old charm and glory. These buildings are nestled right in with modern and impressive buildings. Skyscrapers like the Kaiser building and Pandora headquarters, modern cafes, along with new and trendy apartments paint the skyline. Oakland is full of rich history and yet it has a very progressive, modern vibe to it and its buildings reflect that. There is a sense of pride people have toward Oakland. Pride in the city it was and in the city it is becoming. At least that is the feel that I get seeing these two architectures merge.
The creativity we have seen in Oakland has also struck me. Whenever we walk down Oakland streets, I am never dulled by the elaborate murals or even the creative graffiti. There are so many unique shops and fun restaurants that are run by people with such creative visions. Rock Paper Scissors, Show and Tell Concept Shop, Homeroom, and Oaklandish are a few that come to mind. Most of these unique shops in some way make a connection back to the Oakland community even if it is something as simple as being the space where local people can be creative and share their creativity with others. The two times we went to First Friday as well, the concept of the event and the artistry behind the jewelry, art pieces, clothing, and even the food that was there was so inspiring.
When we have returned home after going to Oakland, I always feel a renewed creativity and spark of passion. Oakland is a city with so much potential and so much going for it. It has diversity, progressive attitudes, and creative and caring people. It has a heart and soul to it.
There are plenty of issues with Oakland and I see those issues just as easily walking down the streets as I see all the good that I listed. Rather than dwell on all the issues Oakland and cities like it continually face, I choose to see Oakland’s potential because I truly believe that in this good lies some sort of solution to the bad the city faces. Call me a naïve optimist if you will, but seeing this good is the only way I can see out of the darkness of everything that is going wrong.