Author Archives: psycheoakland

Non-profit Pedal to the Metal

Do you find it hard to believe that a smart, functional, responsive and deeply caring non-profit exists? One that nurtures clients, volunteers and staff through actual mission in action? Well, check out West Oakland’s Next Step Learning Center, where basic literacy, one-on-one GED tutoring, college transition support and workforce counseling are provided free to anyone over 17 years of age. The program grew out of community organizing and provides individualized programs.


Tiny dog paintings of Glenview



People, something is afoot in the Glenview neighborhood.  Guerrilla artists are turning utility poles (ssshhhhhh. . . don’t tell the big bad utility company) into a gallery for very small works of art.  First, the iconic gnomes came.  Now there’s a smattering of tiny paintings of dogs.  To be featured in the future on this blog (stay tuned!) – paintings that the locals have dubbed “the hipster animals” and works I can only describe as Alien/Robot/Kitty Cats.  If you want to tour the dog paintings, here are some locations: Glen Park near Excelsior, Woodruff near Excelsior, Glenfield Avenue near Park, La Cresta and Wellington near Glenview Elementary, DImond Street by Dimond Park.

10,000 Steps Project

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Created by the artistic team of Bruce Douglas and Sue Mark, 10,000 Steps is a series of 50 permanent sidewalk markers in downtown Oakland.  The markers offer a self-guided walking tour that tells the story of the early development of downtown and the communities that flourish in and around downtown Oakland’s historic parks.  You can find maps for “Walking The Invisible City” on their website,

Fruitvale Community Garden




Early in 2012, some longtime Fruitvale residents created a community garden space by reclaiming the city-owned lot at Foothill and Mitchell. Inside, they transformed unused dirt into thriving food gardens surrounded by fresh hay and inspiring murals. Food justice is obviously a strong value, as local residents don’t have to be gardeners to enjoy the bounty. While orange staked plots are for individual use, green stakes mean take what you need, and several large fruit trees are flourishing in the garden.

I feel you, Man.


It’s Monday morning and we’re feeling like this guy spotted on 3rd Street near Jefferson, in Jack London Square.

Qi gong in Chinatown—-Flexing the mind-body



Everyone is welcome to join the daily qi gong practice 6-9 a.m. at Madison Park (also known as Dragon Park) at 8th and Jackson on the eastern edge of Chinatown. If you are lucky, qi gong sifu (master) Lawrence Choi will be there to lead the forms. Don’t worry if you are new; there is always room to join the flow. How often do urban dwellers have the chance to tap into chi through an over 2,000 year old tradition and express harmony together in a public space?

Check out this video, featuring some very hardy nonagenarians who practice here regularly:

Bike Empowerment in the Emerald Lane



A nice swath of the green Super Sharrow recently added to 40th Street near Telegraph Ave.

Despite having been almost run off the road here by a few non-sharey motorized vehicles, most cars are pretty polite about co-existing on this stretch of 40th, thanks to the VERY CLEAR bright green path. And what could be more delicious than luxuriating in having an actual lane for a few blocks? Viva the bike commute!


Related goodness:

An Oakland non-profit dedicated to promoting walking and biking in our fair city:

Print segments of the 2014 I [BIKE] Oakland map here:


Maxwell Park bathroom

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In 2009-2010, the Friends of Maxwell Park transformed the public bathroom in Maxwell Park from a cinderblock eyesore to a glittering tile mosaic art building.  This community group relied on thousands of hours of labor by volunteers (guided by trained mosaic artists) to complete the project.

The building features all kinds of delightful creatures and details:

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Also in the park, The City issues you both a warning and a shaming:


Maxwell Park is on Allendale Avenue between High Street and Monticello.

IROT mural at Coolidge and MacArthur

IROT is a prolific artist in Oakland, with pieces big and small all over. His mural at the well-traveled intersection of Coolidge and MacArthur perfectly captures beauty and tranquility in the middle of the city.

Chapter 510







Inspired by 826 Valencia in The City, Chapter 510 is bringing literacy and creative writing support to the young folks of Oakland.  They describe their mission as, “Chapter 510 provides in-school tutoring, creative writing workshops, and publishing opportunities for K-12 students in Oakland.”  They elect the Oakland Youth Poet Laureate every year and publish the 510 Journal.   Take a minute, read the poem by Obasi Davis on their poster (pictured) and have your mind blown.  Check them out at