One of my super-favorite events in Oakland is the wonderful–and annual–Oakland Indie Awards. This celebration of Oakland small business and artisan culture involves voting for indie small businesses and artisan makers, tallying the votes, and then partying hard. What’s not to like?

The deadline to nominate businesses for the Awards is March 28th, so this is the moment to spread some love around for your favorite mom and pop shops, entrepreneurs and Oakland institutions.

Why do it?

10. It’s a great way to honor all the brilliant work from Oaklandish.

9. It’s a great way to call out all the other t-shirt makers, clothiers and artisan fashionistas you love in the Town.

8. You eat, right? So which small business artisan food thing are you cray cray about? Vice Chocolate? Sugar Knife?  Pietisserie?  James and the Giant Cupcake? Bump City Bakery? Nominate.

7. You drink, too, right? How about nominating your favorite beer, wine, kombucha, tea, or whatever–we have so many great ones made right here in Oakland.

6. Who makes your life easier? Nominate the small business that helps clean, mail, do laundry, pet sit, whatever.

5. And where do you get your guilty pleasures? Oakland has multiple spots to pick up interesting toys, smokes and so on. Nominate.

4. Co-working. Nominate a favorite spot.

3. I might nominate the amazing hairdresser who fit me in suddenly last week and who fixes my tragic hair. Do you have a stylist or barber you love? By #3, hope you know what I am going to say you should do.  Nominate.

2. And we haz bands. GREAT ones. Indy bands. Hip hop bands. All sorts of bands. Nominate.

1. Are you an amazing indie business, or service? Or perhaps an artisan whose whateverwhatever knocks it out of the park?  You surely can nominate yourself, did you know that?

And the party–which will be on May 30–is THE BEST.

More info below:

oakland soul :: Represents the soul, essence and spirit of Oakland. This business or artist appreciates diversity and creativity, is confident in their individuality and humbly supports their brothers and sisters.

ripple effect :: A business that supports the local economy by buying their supplies and services from other local vendors, creating a “ripple effect” as money circulates within the community

innovative newcomer :: A business or artist that started in the last three years that excites and inspires with a creative new idea, perspective, model or solution.

greenie :: An environmental  champion who works to improve our community through sustainable practices, products or services. This local business or individual reduces waste or consumption, creates green products or provides green services.

social changemaker :: This socially responsible business or individual incorporates positive social change into their mission, operations, and/or measures of success. They use creative approaches to give back to the community and address economic and environmental issues.

pillar :: A long-established Oakland business or artist with deep roots in the community and long-standing ties to the people, culture and history of The Town.  This person or business mentors newbies and is renowned for their contributions to Oakland’s living history.

job creator :: An independent business that has a positive effect on the region by consistently providing good jobs for residents of the Bay Area, employs 50 people or more, is socially responsible and/or environmentally sustainable.

More info here.




About The Author

Susan Mernit is editor & publisher of Oakland Local ( a news & community hub for Oakland, CA. A former VP at AOL & Netscape, & former! Yahoo Senior Director, Mernit was consulting program manager for The Knight News Challenge, 2008-09; was a 2012 Stanford Carlos McClatchy Fellow; and is a board adviser to The Center for Health Reporting at USC, Annenberg School of Journalism. She has consulted with many non-profit organizations on strategy, product development and social media/engagement, including, TechSoup Global, Public Radio International and the Institute for Policy Studies/Economic Hardship Reporting Project, led by Barbara Ehrenreich.

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