Community

Union Point on the Rise soon to be Oakland’s first co-governed cabin community

Every Tuesday members of Union Point on the Rise, a community of 16 unhoused folks, gather on the patio of their current residence, the Travel Inn on MacArthur Boulevard. In a circle of mismatched chairs, they discuss the design, management, and regulations of their future home at Lakeview Village — the first co-governed housing encampment in Oakland. Spanning the block of 12th Street between First and Second avenues, Lakeview Village is a project to move 65 unhoused neighbors into temporary…

Fruitvale community prepares for El Día de Los Muertos festival Sunday

With marigolds, banners, altars and sugar skulls, El Día de Los Muertos observations are underway in Oakland, where a festival is planned for this weekend and altars already are up in homes and gathering places. During Sunday’s downpour, in a kitchen strung with intricately patterned papel picado banners, visual artist Daniel Camacho delicately separated the marigold petals he made with orange tissue paper. It is believed that the strong scent and vibrant gold of marigolds can lead loved ones back…

Ella Baker Center celebrates milestone in bringing restorative justice

With guest speakers and live music, the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights celebrated its 25th anniversary Wednesday night, highlighting its work to close prisons and bring opportunities to Black and brown communities in Oakland. “I believe that you can’t have strong communities if you don’t have strong community-centered institutions. And this is that place,” Executive Director Zach Norris said. Named after the famed Civil Rights and NAACP leader, the Ella Baker Center is dedicated to shifting government resources from…

‘Long live the legacy of Dr. Huey P. Newton’: Sculpture honors Black Panthers co-founder

During an unusually stormy Sunday in West Oakland, about 150 people sang and danced in the rain to celebrate the unveiling of a sculpture honoring Huey P. Newton, who co-founded the Black Panther Party in the city. The bronze bust of Newton is the first permanent art installation to honor the activist, who started the Panthers with Bobby Seale in 1966 to provide educational, and economic support to the Black community. The party developed services to meet the everyday needs…

Planners move to restrict new housing in Oakland hills fire zone

Thirty years ago, 25 people were killed trying to escape the Oakland Tunnel Fire, which swiftly engulfed neighborhoods in the hills.  Since then, many residents have rebuilt in those neighborhoods, which remain under higher risk of fire.  In the next few months, the Oakland City Council will consider a proposal put forth by the Planning Commission that some worry doesn’t go far enough in restricting development in the hills, where narrow, winding roads still pose challenges as escape routes.  The…

‘This danger is one spark, one gust of wind, away.’ 30 years after tragic fire, Oakland better prepared but more at risk

When Sheila Davies Sumner stepped out of her house in the Oakland Hills on the morning of Oct. 20,1991, she had a sinister feeling. It was seasonally hot but there was nothing unusual about this Sunday morning, except for a blast of dry wind.  She put her Siamese cat, Algebra, in the garden, then left for work.  Oaklanders later would recall the gusts from Mount Diablo, some 30 miles to the northeast, the Diablo wind. On that day, 65 mph…

Event uses fun and games to address two community threats: violence and COVID-19

Pastor Cheryl Ward has been working with young children for many years and recently added teens to her ministry. So it seemed fitting for her to bring youth and their families together on Sunday for an event meant to confront two threats: violence and COVID-19. At Liberation Park on Sunday, she and the Black Cultural Zone organized “United Against Violence and COVID-19 in Oakland,” an event that she hopes is the first of four.  “Kids are always saying that they…

“Justice for Jonathan!” Rally calls for FBI to name agent, release video of Cortez shooting

Tension, anger and grief filled the air Saturday afternoon in downtown Oakland, as dozens of people rallied to demand answers in the FBI’s killing last month of a 31-year-old Oakland man. “Justice for Jonathan!” people shouted, as they marched with spray-painted posters from Oscar Grant Plaza to the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse a few blocks away. Jonathan Cortez was buying a Gatorade and some snacks from a corner store in Fruitvale on Sept. 13 when a…

‘It’s just a sweet, magical little event’: Autumn Lights Festival unites artists and gardeners

This year’s Autumn Lights Festival brings together over 300 artists and 70 illuminated light displays ranging from carved-out gourds to a steampunk-esque snail car fully equipped with pyrotechnics.  The festival, which is celebrating its 10th year, opened to a sell-out crowd Thursday at The Gardens at Lake Merritt. Aside from art, it also gives space to local food vendors and live musicians. Director and founder of the festival, Tora Rocha, said the garden gives local artists an opportunity to show their work…