The Community Voices feature is at the core of what Oakland Local is about. Over the years, contributors from the community have used this platform to share their thoughts on a large and diverse number of issues. At Oakland Local, we see Community Voices as an excellent opportunity to spark dialog on important topics and to give voice to a multitude of distinct perspectives. In 2014, the following five Community Voices pieces were stand-outs. (Check out other 2014 article highlights here.)

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20 ways to not be a gentrifier in Oakland
By Dannette Lambert

Gentrification is the word of the day in Oakland. Everywhere you look people are asking, “Am I a gentrifier? Is it bad? Should I care?” What people don’t seem to realize is it isn’t the mere act of moving into a neighborhood that makes you a gentrifier; it’s what you do once you get there.

If you come into someone’s home, do you immediately start rearranging it and moving furniture in? Do you throw away their family photo albums and tell them they have to go to bed at an earlier time or play their music at a lower volume?

No, of course not. You get to know each other, decide if you get along, and, once your host has decided you can stay, you ask politely if there is space to put your stuff. So why do you think you can move into someone else’s neighborhood and start making it over as your own? Why do you think you can move into someone’s ancestral land and start taking it over, evicting them from their homes and pushing out their businesses?  Read more…

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About minimum wage and Lift Up Oakland
By Sal Bednarz

I’ve been giving some thought to the issue of increasing minimum wage since various initiatives started circulating earlier this year, and I thought it was time for me, a resident of Oakland for over twenty years and an Oakland small business owner for the last five, to join the discussion. I own Actual Cafe and Victory Burger, with 37 employees on our payroll today.

I was raised believing that I lived in the land of opportunity: that through hard work and persistence, any individual could succeed financially, support a family, contribute to the community, or at the very least not struggle every day until their last. I learned later that this option isn’t available to everyone; that willingness is sometimes not met with possibility.  Read more…

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What happened to the Ohlone burial sites?
By Roberto Miguel

While looking through shelves of donated books at the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse, I found a comb-bound publication that looked as though it was made at Kinko’s. There was a black-and-white sketch of a Native American man dressed in feathers holding a staff on the cover, with a transparent plastic sheet bound over it. The document was published by the California Department of Transportation and was titled I-880 Cypress Replacement Project in Oakland & Emeryville, Archaeological Research Design & Treatment Plan Volume II: Prehistoric Archaeology. It was dated 1995. Inside were a variety of pullout maps, showing the proposed route of the I-880. One of the maps showed railroads, another landfills, and then, towards the end, Xeroxed almost into oblivion, was a map that showed burial sites and shell mounds of the Ohlone people.

This was a partial map of archeological sites. Its drawback was that it focused solely on sites that could potentially effect the construction of Interstate 880. I went to the Oakland library and looked for another map. I found an article written in 1909 by N.C. Nelson with a map indicating some of 425 Native American archeological sites. It wasn’t a complete list, but I was awestruck. I grew up around here and never realized the density of the native populace. I tried finding the most accurate locations of a handful of the burial sites, and then with photographer Paul Barron, visually documented what currently exists on their respective locations.  Read more…

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How to write an Oakland trend piece
By Matt Werner

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or worse—working in a Manhattan-based newsroom—you’ve just found out that Oakland is now Brooklyn. No, this isn’t a figurative expression. Oakland has literally turned into Brooklyn overnight, like how Gregor Samsa awoke one morning to find himself magically transformed into a giant vermin. (We figured you Brooklynites would get the Kafka reference).

So now that this metamorphosis has happened, how does one go about writing an Oakland/Brooklyn trend piece? Well, we here at Oakland Unseen have developed a handy guide to save out-of-town journalists the trip to Oakland (because we hear it can still be dangerous), and to crank out their trend piece by following the tips below.  Read more…

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Oakland’s Coliseum City could be transformational if city leaders thought more like Steve Jobs
By Jonathan Fleming

I was meeting with clients on 85th Avenue bordering International Boulevard, which consists of a series of warehouses, mixed-use spaces, and affordable housing projects that some consider the industrial parts of East Oakland. Coliseum City has the potential to be a monumental transformational project for Oakland for many reasons.

I sell commercial spaces at times. I am a witness to the lost industrial buildings that have been sitting empty for decades. I see the urban sprawl and the deep side of Oakland that begs for revitalization, but this project is bigger than Jean Quan’s stoplight issues and the ineffective leadership of the City Council.

If we bring in the right partners to Coliseum City, we can rebuild a large subsection of East Oakland. Please listen, I am not just talking about new buildings or new BART stations; I am talking about human beings who need new jobs and new training.  Read more…

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Click here to check out other article highlights from 2014…

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