Elaine Brown, former chairperson of the Black Panther party, has taken a blighted empty lot at the corner of 7th & Campbell Streets in West Oakland and launched a mashup of small business/prisoner re-entry program/community project. This collectively owned small farm employees people who have been incarcerated and is the first of many businesses that Brown plans to launch in this corner of West Oakland.
Designed by architect Howard Gilkey in the 1920’s as a series of cascading pools lit by colored lights at night, this graceful fountain that faces Lake Merritt fell into disrepair by the 1950’s. By the 1990’s it was completely covered and looked like a weedy litter strewn vacant lot. The community around it organized in 2004 to begin excavation and restoration. Volunteers have given thousands of hours of labor to restore it to loveliness. You can see wonderful before, during and after pictures on their website: http://clevelandcascade.org/wp/
Check it out on Lakeshore Avenue, near Brooklyn Avenue.
These wood blocks are found on the bottom of utility poles in the Glenview neighborhood (how is there any space left between the gnomes, the tiny dog paintings and the alien/kitty cat/robots?). Locals have dubbed these the “hipster animals.” Rumors abound (okay, it was mentioned on the Glenview facebook page) that these have also been spotted in Jack London Square. These seem to only be clustered on Wellington Street, near Vista and La Cresta. Artist is unknown.
This explicit anatomical mural on the side of a vacant building will stop you in your tracks on Webster Street. The art is by Viennese artist Nychos, whose large-scale dissections of pop culture icons like Mickey Mouse and SpongeBob SquarePants bring corporeal weight to plastic branding. Morbid and gorgeous, we can’t get over the luminous glow of the intestines in this particular piece.
This enormous annual warehouse jumble sale benefits the Oakland Museum Women’s Board, and is the best place in town for pretty much anything your heart desires, from antique lacework to furniture to tools. The sale raised a staggering $2.15 million in 2015, and is staffed by some of the most patient volunteers you’ll ever meet. Don’t miss the gentle joking of the announcer on the PA system, who reunites (and teases) separated family members among all the chaos.
Okay Oaklanders, let’s review. Please refer to my previous blog posts, Utility Pole Gnomes and Tiny Dog Paintings of Glenview. Fresh outta the Glenview neighborhood comes the alien/robot/kitty cat wood blocks found on assorted utility poles on Wellington and Everett Streets –
Then comes a double gnome/alien-robot-kitty-
Then – BOOM! – a trifecta of gnome/tiny dog/alien-robot-kitty cat
Help keep our fair town beautiful by volunteering for Keep Oakland Beautiful. This organization sponsors various neighborhood clean ups, awards small grants to beautification projects and distributes daffodil bulbs in October-November to be planted in public spaces. If you can’t volunteer, then do your part by not littering!
The Cat Town Cafe at 29th & Broadway is divided into two spaces: the cafe itself and the Cat Zone, where you can make an appointment to hang out with between 6-20 adoptable cats who luxuriate on cleverly designed, Oakland-themed cat furniture. Founded in 2011 by a group of Oakland animal shelter volunteers, this genius nonprofit has helped over 600 at-risk cats and kittens.
The recently-opened cafe allows them to help even more cats and kittens, and provides soothing, often hands-on animal time for those seeking a feline hangout. http://www.cattowncafe.com