Tag Archives: west oakland

Challenge Everything.

So this is a re-purposed USPS sticker on a re-purposed stop sign… kinda cool. Unless of course that stop sign was still performing an important function. Safety first peeps!

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I do like this message though… the handcuffs are “ignorance,” and the key to unlock them “education.”

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Bee Aware – Connected Worlds

Save the Honeybees…

After yesterday’s visit to Ghost Town farm and Novella’s bees, I thought I’d highlight this “bee conscious” mural along the Mandela Parkway. Though this area has seen a small amount of “greening” with the redevelopment of the parkway to a greenbelt including an extension of the Bay Trail, this is predominantly a heavy industry area. I love the fact that someone here is speaking for the bees.

BEE AWARE - CONNECTED WORLDS Mural

This piece is located at the same art compound where the giant human sculptures from my post Have you heard of this thing called Burning Man? reside. You can see a sliver of one on the left side of the shot above, which gives you a sense of scale. The mural is installed on a huge piece of curved concrete that is literally chained to the fence behind it. I’m curious if this piece was fabricated specifically for this art installation, or if it’s a salvage from something else that’s been re-purposed. Either way it’s unbelievably cool.

Honeybee Mural

Bee Aware - Save the Honeybees Mural

Below are the signatures of the artists…

Bee Aware Mural

Bee Aware Mural

May Peace Prevail on Earth

The traditional Aztec dancers from the Día de los Muertos festival reminded me of this mural I saw a few weeks ago with its blend of cultural imagery, including what appear to be various gods or goddesses.

It’s on an old boarded-up apartment building at the corner of 28th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. I wasn’t able to locate any artists’ signatures, but I did discover that the writing running along the top of the mural, which spans two sides of the building, says “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in several different languages. How beautiful is that? And how beautiful is this mural?!! The artistry is amazing.

Oakland Mural Art

The circle of black, red, and white above reminds me of some of the art I saw at the Museum of Anthropology at UBC in Vancouver, much of its collection focused on the art of the native peoples of the northwest coast. The figure of the raven is featured predominantly… legend has it that the first men were born out of a clamshell overseen by the raven (A Haida legend of the Raven and the First Men).

I wish I knew who the figure below surrounded by flames represents. Please send me some info if you happen to know.

Oakland Mural Art

Oakland Mural Art

I also love the incorporation of modern comic book characters (explorers above & warriors below) in between the dieties.

Oakland Mural Art

Oakland Mural Art

This last one looks Tibetan to me… but I really do not know. Anyone?

Oakland Mural Art

Note: later learned this to be another work by the folks at Community Rejuvenation Project.

stay punk

So I’ve been wed to my bike these last few days because it just so happens that someone made off with my car in the wee hours of the night Sunday night (yes, Oakland does have some problems… but I prefer to focus on the positive).  It hasn’t yet turned up, and may not (sorry Mom!) so in the meantime, I continue to ride.  Which to be honest, when appropriate, is a far superior way to travel.  It’s healthy, non-polluting, low-cost, and helps connect residents with their communities by getting them out of the cars that separate them from the world around them.  Remember Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance? I do.

It’s kind of ironic because I was just blathering on and on about all the bicyclists and cycle commuting in Amsterdam and how fantastic it is, and then I come home and someone makes off with my car.  Hmmm.  I said that the universe provides (see Magic Bus post)… what I forgot to say, is be careful what you ask for.

In any case, the City of Oakland is taking great strides to make our city more bicycle friendly, and it is all happening now.  In the past ten years the city has added over 900 bike racks and 87 miles of bicycle lanes and routes.  What’s the difference between a lane and a route you ask? Or a bicycle “path” for that matter (which is another unique designation).  Check out Oakland Public Works’ website where you can read all about them.

And there’s a great little newsletter that comes out quarterly called “I [bicycle] Oakland” which provides the latest information about all things bike related, and how the city is doing with respect to implementing the objectives of its Bicycle Master Plan (2007), which include more than doubling the total current mileage of bicycle friendly byways within the city.

According to this document, 85% of all Oakland residents live within two miles of downtown or a major transit station… which basically equates to a relatively short trip on the bike.  The thing that holds most people back is the lack of safe bikeways…. so that’s where Oakland is putting most of its focus.

As I was riding yesterday, I spotted this piece…  I never would have seen it if I was in my car.

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I recognized the work because this artist had done a similar piece on a building in my neighborhood. The owner promptly painted over it, but not before I got the pic below…
Kind of creepy, but kind of cool. And definitely punk.

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Put on a happy face

I got a new sticker yesterday on my speed bump post outside.  And it made me happy on a day when not many happy things happened.  No sir-ee.  But I did get this cool sticker.  And I did see a huge rainbow retreating eastward as I cycled down 32nd street in the rain.  It made me smile.  In fact, it made me want to yell out to everyone I passed, “Hey!  Do you see that awesome rainbow?!?” But I didn’t.  I’m a dork.

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p.s. – back to the gardens tomorrow…

Loma Prieta Earthquake – 20 years later

If you live in the Bay Area, it’s hard to not be aware of the fact that tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake. It was the biggest earthquake in the Bay Area since the “big one” of 1906, and at the time, was the nation’s most expensive natural disaster (now grossly surpassed by Katrina).

I didn’t yet live here in ’89, but I was not far away, living in another earthquake-prone region, Southern California. I remember watching the images on tv… the fires raging through the marina, the collapsed upper deck panel of the Bay Bridge and the car that careened off where its support had once been, and of course, the images of the collapsed Cypress Freeway, built before the 1950’s and the use of modern seismic safety standards. This is where the highest number of fatalities occurred… 42 people on the lower deck were literally crushed to death.

The freeway was rebuilt years later in a different location, further west to provide access to the Port of Oakland, and what now remains where that portion of freeway once was, is the recently redeveloped Mandela Parkway, which I have featured in several other posts. Between 13th and 14th Streets is located Oakland Memorial Park, which is a beautifully rendered tribute to the events of that day.

Here is the actual seismograph from those 15 seconds…

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Designed by April Philips Design Works and artists Gilman and Keefer, the landscape work conveys the waves that moved through the earth that day, with undulating sections of native grasses, and plantings arranged in concentric arcs emanating from the “epicenter,” Story Plaza at the corner of 14th and Mandela. Here, three curved ladders represent both the literal ladders thrown up against the damaged structure that day by local residents to save those trapped within, and the symbolic hope of community spirit rising skyward from the dust of destruction. Excerpts from stories offered by local residents are imprinted into the concrete, such as “When the quake stopped, a rain of concrete dust obscured everything.”

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On this anniversary, it seems fitting to remember that we do live in an earthquake prone region, and it is extremely likely that we will see another earthquake of similar magnitude in our lifetimes. In fact, there is a 62% probability of at least one quake of this size within the next 20 years. This statistic and an incredible wealth of information on the science of earthquakes and what we can do to prepare for them is located at the U.S. Geological Survey’s site “Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country.” Please check it out. Strap those waterheaters. Get your disaster kits together. These things really do make a difference.

And by all means, go visit the Oakland Memorial Park… it’s a lovely spot to sit and remember.