Oakland residents honor MLK by gathering to stop the violence.

“Our greatest resource is our children” — Refa. Stop the Gunfire – MLK Gathering 2012, Jan. 16th

This is a common utterance that is heard by activists that speak about youth..yet you wouldn’t know it by looking at the violence that has occurred in Oakland this past year. Three babies under the age of 5 were fatally shot due to gun violence. As of October 2011 the number of homicides in Oakland was at 94. I don’t know how many other shootings occurred during the holidays.

Today Regeneration Church and Reverend Harry Louis Williams II, hosted “Stop the Gunfire- MLK Day Gathering 2012” a grassroots program hoping to find a solution towards reducing the violent crimes in Oakland. Attending by over a 100 civic leaders, activists and residents, presenters pleaded with participants to gather together as a community, put our arms around our youth and pray for peace in order to make a change. This event was heavily influenced by Christianity and a belief that Jesus Christ is the answer to the crisis we are facing. ..

Rev. Harry Louis Williams II kicks off the "Stop the Gunfire - MLK Gathering 2012"

One of the speakers, whose name I did not catch, started out the event by recalling the story of Cain and Abel. He said when Cain killed his brother Abel, God heard the blood of his brother cry out to Him. The speaker then asked if God was to put his ear towards the streets of Oakland, what would he hear?

Following that opening, guest speakers like Councilmember Pat Kernighan, family members of slain children, and local activists like George Galvis (who fought against gang injunctions) came to speak, sing, and recite poetry for 5 minutes on what they are doing to make our city a better place to live.

Pastor Mustafa Muyhee, BASIC Ministries

Pastor Mustafa Muyhee of BASIC Ministries told us that MLK brought change as an answer to the problems they faced in the past. It was the gospel of Jesus Christ that gave him the power to make change. “Only Jesus can change the heart of a murder” said Muyhee who confided that 10 years ago he used to be a murderer. He said those that know Jesus need to bring the gospel to the murderers, prostitutes and drug dealers..so that they can turn their lives around like he did.

Brenda Grisham, Christopher LaVelle Jones Foundation

Brenda Grisham’s son, Christopher LaVelle Jones, died on New Year’s Eve 2010. He was 17 years old and on his way to church services when shots rang out. He died trying to protect his mother, sister and niece. She says that she continues to pray for the men who shot her son. “We can not save a life unless we put our arms around the offenders.”

Refa 1

Refa 1 (Revolutionary Educator for Africa) says that it’s culture that has our attention. But that there is a system that is promoting, yet corrupting our culture and making millions of dollars at our expense. Young black men are listening. After an innocent young man who was doing good things in his life was killed in West Oakland, Refa decided to paint spray paint a mural on the corner of 14th and Campbell, an area that has been terrorized by violence for over 20 years. Neighbors and youth were inspired .. some even donating money. Two years after the mural was complete, crime has been dramatically reduced out of respect for the young man killed. “We can make change at a grassroots level”

Nola Brantley, MISSSEY

Nola Grant, Executive Director and Founder of MISSSEY (Motivating, Inspiring, Supporting and Serving Sexually Exploited Youth) says that violence starts before it gets to the street. It stems from domestic violence witnessed in the home, poverty, drug use ..and those examples are just the beginning. We need to start looking deeper. We need to identify the problem so that we can turn to a solution that does not involve violence and anger. Finally, yes we need to come to GOD for prayer and answers, however God’s work is not done inside the church walls. Through sacrifice and giving up something of ourselves, we should go outside of the church walls and make change in our community.

Cephus "Uncle Bobby" Johnson, Oscar Grant's Uncle

“We can never be satisfied as long as police brutality exists in our community” says Cephus “Uncle Bobby” Johnson, Oscar Grant’s Uncle. He shared with us how Oscar Grant’s seven-year old daughter Tatiana is now afraid of the police. He says police brutality creates anger in the community which then becomes misdirected. Uncle Bobby said “We are in a state of emergency!” and that it’s up to our men (black, brown and white) to take the leadership role and at the same time the community has to take time out of our lives to mentor young men. Learn more about what he is doing by visiting The Oscar Grant Foundation

There were many more presentations and stories shared during the program that would make this blog post too long to cover..

The program ended with a free lunch and an opportunity to visit community organizations sharing information about their work. Take the time to visit their websites and learn more about how you can help them fight violence in the streets.

As I left the church to head home, I noticed a little boy, no more than five, running in and out of the church, laughing and interacting with people while his parents were networking outside. He was comfortable and unafraid..knowing that he was perfectly safe to roam freely.

Hopefully with more events like these, we can work together to make sure that all the children of Oakland can have that same kind of freedom.


Filed under Advocacy, Health, Oakland

Emerge California celebrates women at Make Westing!

Another great night in Oakland that I can’t wait to share.

Emerge California East Bay hosted a fundraiser celebration last night at Make Westing and I was very fortunate to be able to attend.  I had a ball! I want to share the good times with you..so here we go!

Make Westing is packed with Emerge California celebrants

Emerge California is part of a national movement that trains women to run for Democratic elected office at the local, state and federal level. So far, Emerge has trained over 600 women across the United States, and at least 40% go on to run for office.  Half of those were successful. As SNL’s Miley Cyrus would stay: “That’s pretty cool!”

Last night, Emerge California wanted to celebrate graduates who were running for elected office in 2012, as well as raise a little money for their campaigns. These awesome women are running for offices in the City Council, School Board..all the way up to State and Federal government.

Alumni and the current Emerge California classmates were on-hand to have some drinks and network with the likes of  Oakland City Councilmembers Libby Schaaf and Pat Kernighan, Mayor Jean Quan and City Attorney Barbara Parker.  However, the party wasn’t just for women. There plenty of men on hand, some of whom were running for local office as well, like Mario Juarez running for Oakland City Council District 4 and Joel Young  and Abel Guillen both of whom are running for State Assembly in the 18th District.

Emerge California Executive Director Kimberly Ellis was ecstatic as she applauded all the candidates for 2012. She said Emerge California is about leveling the playing field and addressing the lack of diversity in elected positions. She also appreciated the men who were present for their support and recognizing the value of having more women represented in government.

Ellis also thanked Make Westing, for being such gracious hosts!

Make Westing is a local bar found in the Uptown District of Oakland (17th and Telegraph) that serves cocktails, beer, wine, gourmet snacks..AND delicious (plus nutritious!) cucumber water. The venue is spacious, the bartenders are nice and the owners Bay Area natives. Yes, sports fans, there is a flat-screen TV to watch the latest game while having a beer with friends.

I’m not a huge drinker or sports fan.. so the most compelling feature of the bar is the Bocce Ball Court.

Bocce Ball..what the heck is that?

It’s an Italian ball game, that consists of throwing balls in a dirt lane with the hope that they land closest to the game ball

Make Westing's Bocce Court

(or the Pallino). Does that make sense to you? It didn’t to me either (read more about Bocce here ). Yet, when challenged to a friendly “girls vs boys” competition between random strangers, I was down for a little ball throwing action.

Three games later, my teammate (the girlfriend of one of the bartenders) and I emerged as the undisputed winners! I left the bar in good spirits, with lots of contacts, new friends and a promise to play Bocce again.

What a night!

Take home message? Women make up only 17% of elected officials in the United States. That’s really sad considering that the rest of the world is much more enlightened (we rank 84 in women representation, behind Mexico and Pakistan!). We need to support women running for office and demonstrate that America is the liberated country that we say we are!

Besides women are natural born winners.. (my Bocce ball experience is a prime example).

Support local business.  Oakland, Make Westing is an awesome place to be. I am sure you will have as great a time there as I did. Go have a drink there some time. Play a little Bocce. Watch some football. Drink the water. It’s tasty!

Have a great weekend!

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Filed under Election 2012, Oakland, Politics

Sean is for Oakland, small business and local artists.

Inkwell Tatoo, Piercing and Gallery

It’s 2012, THE most important election year since the last election!

Tonight I was fortunate to be able to attend an event hosted by one of the many people running for office in Oakland.

Sean Sullivan (@seanforoakland) is hoping to be a member of the Oakland City Council, representing District 3 which includes West Oakland, Downtown, Adam’s Point and Lake Merritt.  In an effort to get to know potential voters, he had an informational session at Inkwell, while showcasing local artists and helping to support an upcoming event for black nurses.

Sean Sullivan and Leslie Silket at Inkwell

Sean has been an activist in Oakland for over 10 years.  He is a member of the Community Block Grant Board,  a board member of Khadafy Washington Foundation for non-violence, and Oakland’s Community Action Partnership an organization dedicated towards reducing poverty. He also worked as an environmental health activist, advocating for such things as getting rid of BPA in sippy cups. He is all about supporting small business, which he demonstrates by having tonight’s meet and greet at Inkwell.

Inkwell Studio is a local tattoo, piercing and art gallery, located on the corner of 24th and Broadway in Downtown Oakland. Not only do they offer custom tattoos and with exceptional customer service, they display art by local artists.

Tonight they showcased a father and son team: Buggsy  and Wade Malone.  Buggsy is a Marine veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. On display were some beautiful wood work of  musical artists such as Tupac and Micheal Jackson. There even was a piece of work depicting Frida Khalo.

Tupac, by Buggsy Malone

His son Wade is a student at the Oakland School of the Arts. I didn’t see any wood art from him, but his drawings show great promise. I’m definitely thinking about buying the flowers, if someone else doesn’t snatch them up. (We need to support the kids, ya’ll!)

Also on hand was a bay area nurse named Leslie Silket, RN, BSN. She was there to share information about the 2nd Annual Black Nurses Event. This is a special occasion to celebrate ‘unsung heroes’. Nurses, for little pay and sometimes no benefits, dedicate their lives towards taking care of patients. It’s not an easy job, and it’s sadly unappreciated. Silket says that this is a opportunity for local African-American nurses to get together and share their stories,  celebrate triumphs and get a good meal!

The Black Nurses event will be Z Cafe Feb. 16 at 5 pm. Tickets are $40, but if you are a student nurse you can get in for free. Email Leslie Silket, nuselove67@aol.com for more information.

Flower Art by Wade Malone

Sean Sullivan says that it is important to support local businesses because they provide employment to Oakland residents, and bring revenues back to the city. He is a huge supporter of risk takers and dream makers, and feels that small businesses like Inkwell and artists like Buggsy and Wade Malone are “hella cool!”.

I agree.

Visit Inkwell Studio all this month to see more work from Buggsy Malone and his son Wade.

Support small business, local artists ..and don’t forget to vote!


Filed under Advocacy, City Council, Election 2012, Healthcare, Oakland

When “*hit people say..” is more than just funny.

This “*hit …. say” meme has been growing like crazy! People have been saying a lot for a long time, but apparently now is the time to air it all out for public commentary.

Black girls say

Black guys say..

White guys say to ..black guys

Asian girls say..

Asian guys, drunk girls, baby mama’s, gay guys, southern gay guys.. You name it, they have all been sayin’!

However, it is ‘ish White girls say to Black girls that’s getting a lot of talk recently, and generating plenty of blog commentary. Franchesca Ramsey’s list of things white girls say to black girls is funny and all too familiar to plenty of Black women that have White girlfriends.

At the same time it has hit a nerve that we have previously ignored for the sake of friendship and the need to be PC. In the past we have tried to be more accepting of each other and in that effort, maybe we let some comments or questions slide in order to maintain a shaky peace.

Yet, 2011 and beyond seems to be the era of honesty! We have now come to a place where it’s possible to call folks out for their questionable behavior and laugh at it.

But are we really that comfortable?

I don’t know..”*hit Black girls ..say to White women” hasn’t come out yet.    ….    …..

I applaud the effort of everyone airing out dirty laundry so that we can discuss, come to some sort of understanding, hold hands and become friends. Yay!

However, I’m more interested in what some other people are saying in public that isn’t getting talked about as much as it needs to.

Newt Gingrich Says He Would Urge Blacks To Demand Paychecks, Not Food Stamps In Front Of NAACP.

Gingrich told a town hall meeting at a senior center in Plymouth, N.H., that if the NAACP invites him to its annual convention this year, he’d go there and talk about “why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps.”



According to the USDA SNAP Household Characteristic Report for 2010, African American’s make up 22% of those in the food stamp program. That’s not even the majority…*cough*Caucasians make up 35%*cough*. What is he going to tell the rest of them?

The Republican candidates are saying a lot of *hit about minorities and low income people. Gingrich and Santorium (the “I don’t want to make Black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.” guy) both have made some sketchy comments about Black people and welfare. Ron Paul defends denounces racist newsletters he has written in the past. And let’s not forget about their opinions on immigration, the Occupy Wall Street movement, women’s reproductive rights etc.

These candidates are airing dirty laundry all over the place.

A significant and really harmful difference is that these people have the power to effect us in more damaging ways than getting us to laugh or have deep conversations at the water cooler.

One of these people can potentially become the President of the United States.

The potential candidate could help elect a congress that would have the power to make some significant changes. They could cut social benefits, appoint a radical supreme court member, go to war with Iran for no reason, kick out ALL illegal immigrants.. We thought the Bush era was bad? At the time no one thought Bush would get elected.. and now  Santorium is a front runner!

We need to talk about that.

Do you care that these candidates saying some crazy ‘ish? Are we really at a place where we can say anything about each other and get away with it? How would YOU react to “*hit Black girls say to White Girls?”

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Filed under Advocacy, humor, Politics

It’s official. Sandre Swanson will run for State Senate, for District 9

Assemblyman Sandre Swanson confirmed Tuesday that he’ll challenge incumbent Loni Hancock for her newly drawn state Senate seat next year, setting up a term-limit-fueled, Democrat-on-Democrat grudge match that’s sure to divide many East Bay allies.

Sandre Swanson will challenge Loni Hancock for State Senate http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_19540356


I don’t know. I don’t know enough about him or the incumbent.

A friend suggested that I get to know Swanson and chronicle my learnings on this here blog. I signed up on Facebook, put myself on the Swanson email list and learned that he was co- sponsoring a food drive at Everett and Jones that was held last week. Food drive, free bbq..I was soo down!

BBQ and Elbow rubs.

Swanson/Lee/Carson Christmas Party, 2011 <— View Photos here

I couldn't get there at 5 when it started, but when I did arrive (at 6) E&J was already packed full of people I did not know. Luckily I brought a friend, and my handy dandy camera to take pictures and pretend like I had a purpose.

I didn't learn very much though. The speeches I heard contained a lot of "Thank You for.." and "Look who's here!.." and "Great job everyone!" and "Remember when..?" none of which I took notes on because I was too busy partaking of bbq beef and cornbread muffins while trying to look pretty. I did make note that Sandre Swanson was there, along with Keith Carson (co-sponsor), Desley Brooks and a rep for Rebecca Kaplan. Barbara Lee (another co-sponsor) was not present because she still had some voting to do down in DC. Something to do with payroll taxes. 😉

Thanks to Pamela Drake for chatting with me as well. So, I knew two people. 🙂

All in all, the event was a great mixer for those that have worked with Carson, Swanson and Lee for a long time. It also helped collect food for the local food bank. Several bins were filled with food. I brought beans, peas and corn. Keepin' it healthy!

Were you there? Was there other stuff to learn? Share!

Some Learning..

District 9 ( download District 9 Map.pdf) includes parts of Contra Costa County (Hercules, Richmond, El Cerrito) and Alameda County (Berkeley, Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro).

Loni Hancock has served as the representative since 2008. I remember voting for her..I don’t remember why. (bad Tonya, bad!) Her website says that she is a strong advocate for criminal justice, government reform, education and environment. She recently stood by the California Faculty Association during the strike at CSU East Bay and was (is she still?) a supporter of the Occupy movement and supported the General Strike on Nov. 2nd.

Sandre’ Swanson has been the State Assembly District 16 (Emeryville, Oakland, Peidmont and Alameda) Rep since 2006. Serving the public for the past 30 years, Swanson’s legislative work is pretty transparent. His website, Facebook and newsletter lists legislative wins through the year for 2011, and also for 2006 and 2007. Those include: new child labor laws, strengthening laws human trafficking, small business tax credits, and justice for low wage workers in 2011. His bio says he also has a deep commitment towards access to health care. What happened in 2008-2010? Dunno. Not on the website. Get on it Swanson Communications team!!

So who should we vote for in June? We shall see. As I learn I will share.

What do you know? Got an inside scoop that should be public? Share!

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Filed under Advocacy, Election 2012, Oakland, Politics

Should #OccupyOakland Campers Stay? I don’t know.

Occupy Oakland General Strike (135 photos)

In my previous blog post, I enthusiastically gave #OccupyOakland my support.

On Wednesday, I participated in the awesome march to the Port of Oakland during the General Strike. (see photo album above)

Thursday, I attended the City Council meeting to discuss a draft resolution from CM Nancy Nadel, Rep for District 3 which includes downtown Oakland, that would allow camp to stay at Frank Ogawa Plaza. I tweeted throughout the meeting (see @tdlove5). If you want some riveting and juicy details (CM Brooks literally embarrassed the heck out of CM Kaplan), check out my tweets or read through tweets dated Nov. 3rd in this hashtag: #oakmtg.

Anyway, at the meeting I learned some things that have left me with mixed feelings on the whole issue. I will share what I learned at the meeting, pro and con, and explain my thoughts at the end.

Warning this post is long, but I wanted to be thoughtful and as thorough as I could be in my ‘reporting’ and subsequent thoughts. So get out your coffee, put your feet on the table and join me.

Again, let me reiterate that these are arguments that I learned from those who testified at the City Council meeting. Let me start this by saying that I truly admire those that take the time to show up to these meetings and speak. Especially the young children. It’s not an easy thing to do (people heckle others they don’t agree with).

I have attended meetings, and so far I have not been brave enough to say something. Yet. Someday, I will be ticked off enough about something to speak my mind. Or maybe even happy enough to say something nice.

Arguments for why Occupy Oakland campers should stay.

Occupy campers are providing a service to the community that the city of Oakland can’t/won’t.

Many speakers testified that there are homeless, disabled (mentally and physically), and jobless who are camping with Occupy. They are being fed, and treated (at nurses tent) and mentored on site. Something that the city of Oakland hasn’t been doing a job good of.

It’s their right. The Constitution does not preclude time or place or amount of time allowed to protest on public property.

The First Amendment of the Constitution does not explicitly place limits to freedom of expression. City Administrator Santana mentioned (and it’s my basic understanding) that you must apply for permits to have events at public parks and spaces..

(However, IMO (not Santana’s) many sit-ins and protests in the past that were successful, broke the rules and laws.)

Please note: Dorothy Jones, owner of Everett and Jones and supporter of Occupy Oakland, applied for permits so that Occupy could serve food and have events at Frank Ogawa during Wed. Nov 2 strike and provided a bbq for thousands of participants that evening.

You (the public and city) only have a problem with the trash because it is downtown.

CM Nadel and other speakers pointed out that there are homeless, trash, and violence in all parts of the city that people don’t seem to care much about. One resident said she has to live amongst violence and crime in her neighborhood in East Oakland everyday. Why does the city care about it now? Because it’s on their front door step. (and I would say because it is National news)

Occupy inspires young people towards civil protest.

A couple of young people attended the City Council meeting and testified before the council. They expressed admiration for those speaking out for their rights and trying to make a difference in the community. One young teen was a camper herself and asked that the police remember that there are young children in the camp. The police should not bring tear gas or shoot pellets at them. She also admonished them to take off their shoes upon entering the campsite.

(I have a picture as proof, but something doesn’t seem right about posting it here. shrug).

Furthermore, this is an “opportunity” for Oakland to be an example of progressiveness. To show the world that we care about equity and want to do something about it!

The police have committed unfair brutal attacks against the campers and protesters in violation of the city’s crowd control policy.

I am not sure if this is an effective argument of why they should stay, but it is a legitimate complaint. There are the examples of veterans Scott Olsen, and now Kayvan Sabehgi being injured by police action. Another resident talked about how her daughter had a tear gas canister explode on her ankle. Local reporter resident, Max Allstadt, was arrested for ‘being in the wrong place at wrong time’. And there are probably many more examples that I am missing..

Attorney Michael Siegel tweeted me a copy of the Oakland’s crowd control court order which you can download here.

Occupy Oakland does not condone violence, they are a work in progress that could use the city’s help instead of it’s condemnation. Don’t punish the whole group over a few bad apples.

Over the past couple of days you have probably heard statements from Occupy Oakland decrying the random acts of violence that occurred during the General Strike and on several other occasions. There seems to be a small sector of the community, who dress in all black and are labeled anarchists, that like to cause destruction. Even the Oakland Police Department, in public statements, identified the trouble makers as a separate group.

Occupy Oakland has apologized to the city and have organized efforts for clean-up. Last night they held a General Assembly to come up with ways to stop the violence. You can watch live streaming of GA meetings by following @OakFoSho’s live stream.

At the meeting Occupy Oakland asked the Council several times for help figuring out their electricity issues and invited them more than once to attend the General Assembly meetings.

Arguments for why Occupy Oakland should leave.

The campers are causing the city of Oakland to lose business.

The President of Oakland’s Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce testified to the city council that two businesses have left Oakland’s downtown’s office space and another business declined to make a deal to move to Oakland. Mayor Quan says that another business owner is concerned for the safety of the employees and warned that if he leaves, he will be taking 500 jobs with him.

Occupy Oakland is costing the City money and resources that the city can not afford.

Recently the city reported that the cost to the city from Occupy Oakland as of Oct. 28th has been a little over a million dollars. This does not include the costs from the General Strike or the loss of business from the shut down of the Port of Oakland.

Mayor Quan also testified that the city has limited resources..when the city directs those resources to Occupy Oakland, they are being taken away from areas of the city that really need it. Cops being used to police Occupy are being taken away from East Oakland. She pleaded with Occupy Oakland to help her, help East Oakland.

The camp has trash, public safety and violence issues. One of reasons for eviction on Tuesday, 25th was lack of communication from the campers, and not allowing the police or ambulance to answer calls of distress.

City Administrator Santana presented a thorough power point presentation listing the problems with trash and instances of violence. She said there was a report of a man being beaten over the head with a 2 x 4. A reporter being bit by a dog. The kitchen using illegal extension cords and propane tanks and various other bio-hazards that you can look at in the picture at left.

She says that the city tried various avenues of communication. She sent a staff member to GA meetings, who was not allowed to participate. They used social media, following tweets and reading Facebook posts, in order to find out what is going inside the camp. They even sent written notices that were ignored. The city were looking for a willingness to comply with the laws and to cooperate. CM Brooks even admonished Occupy in her speech saying “This was a Council that was willing to work with you”.

The downtown residents not involved in Occupy, feel their rights are not being fairly taken into consideration.

The Occupy movement had a lot of supporters at this meeting. However, there were a few brave souls who came and spoke in opposition to CM Nadel’s resolution. Residents testified that they don’t feel safe downtown anymore. That the national coverage sheds a negative light on the city. Via ear hustle, I heard one woman complain that she feels like she is being held ‘hostage’ in her own neighborhood.

When I tweeted this comment, I got some flack from a couple who were following my tweets. However, in her (and my defense), the word may be an exaggeration, but the constant drone of helicopters and the constant police action taken towards Occupy Oakland does leave one feeling trapped in a “war-like” atmosphere. (Another inflammatory phrase for you).

Further comments made by residents at the meeting (in summary): Oakland has had it’s fair share of protests and strife in the city. It’s not fair to continue to subject the city to abuse, when all we (residents of Oakland) are trying to do is survive this economic crisis and take care of our own. Why does Oakland have to be the example? Why not LA or New York?

The 1% is not here in Oakland.

CM Patricia Kernighan reminded the audience that the 1%, who Occupy is complaining against, does not reside in Oakland. Goldman Sachs is not in Oakland. Bank of America is not based in Oakland. Even the really wealthy do not live in Oakland. Why not go to Piedmont..or Marin? Or Wall Street?

The 1% don’t care about what is happening in Oakland. They are watching, sitting back in their comfortable homes and neighborhoods, and laughing at our expense.

SF Chronicle recently published an article on Bay Area companies that are targeted by the Occupy Movement (like Wells Fargo) and addresses the issue of their tax contributions.

What is the point of Occupy Oakland? Who is the leader? What are the plans? What are the goals? Why should we (city of Oakland and residents) support something without a clear agenda?

CM Brooks in her speech showed how she clearly supported Occupy Oakland. She camped out with them for the first couple of days. Yet, Brooks expressed disappointment in the fact they have yet to tell even her, a supporter, what their goals are.

In the end, the council did not make a decision. CM Nadel did not think she would have enough votes for her resolution that night so she decided not to bring it up. After a long meeting which heard over a 100 speakers, CM Reid called for another meeting at a later date to discuss specific policy solutions.

MY personal thoughts:

I actually agree with all of the points here. Pro and Con. This is why I have mixed feelings on Occupy Oakland campers staying at Frank Ogawa.

On one hand, I am in total agreement with the movement, for reasons I stated previously. On the other hand, I loathe the negative affects the occupation has had on the city of Oakland in particular.

I’m not really bothered by the fact that #Occupy Oakland has no real concrete position. I feel that this is a movement that is a work in progress. As well planned as the Civil Rights Movement has reportedly been, I find it hard to believe that there were no instances where a protest didn’t achieve a specific goal. I think that maybe there were instances in the past where people engaged in civil disobedience and protested because they were merely upset over what was happening and had no real goal in mind except to just register their complaint. Yet we don’t know about those, because there was no internet or media to broadcast those not-so-successful demonstrations for the whole world to judge and condemn. However, from those sporadic protests in the beginning, over time a thought out, goal-oriented and well-organized movement emerged that was able to achieve some success which is now being recognized and celebrated.

For some reason we aren’t allowing Occupy Oakland the chance to grow and learn. I don’t think it’s very fair. Especially if all some people are doing are being an armchair critics and not helping the situation at all.

If you are one of those feel that Occupy Oakland needs direction, guidance and focus: (my suggestion) go to their General Assembly and help them. You got concrete ideas and plans?..Share them at the GA. I have gone to the General Assembly meetings and you would be surprised at how organized and democratic they actually are. It’s pretty awesome actually. They meet in the afternoons. I don’t know what specific time but if you go to Occupy Oakland’s Facebook page you can find out.

I believe there have been successes within the Occupy Movement. Occupy Oakland shut down the Port of Oakland- the 5th largest Port in the US. Hit international and national corporations in their pocket books. If we know nothing about the ‘clear intentions, goals or expected outcomes’ of the Occupy Movement, we do know that they are tired of big corporations taking money from the 99%, and that attacking corporate pocketbooks is the preferred method to register a complaint. That’s what Occupy wanted to do and that’s what we (myself and thousands of supporters) did.

Other instances of success include Occupy Walnut Creek, and their success in getting residents to leave their banks. And today..the movement to get people to switch to credit unions. This may not directly be attributed to Occupy Oakland, but the conversation has changed. People are listening and not liking what they are seeing. Change is happening, slowly but surely.

Yes, this is costing the city (and country for the national movement) money and inconvenience. Unfortunately that’s the nature of protest. I can imagine, and it is probably documented in books that I haven’t read, the loss and suffering endured by innocent bystanders to the Civil Rights movement. However, the end did justify the means, right? We don’t like it while it’s happening..but there is potential. And in the future, when we look back we can marvel at the great change that occurred and it would be celebrated. We don’t know that yet.. but isn’t it worth it to see what happens?

Thousands of us walking to Port of Oakland- from http://www.sfbayview.com

I do not regret my part in the General Strike. It may have meant nothing in the end, but words can not accurately express what it feels like to speak out and be heard. When I was marching with the city..and we came to the overpass that takes you to the Port (as pictured above).. and we were able to witness the thousands who were marching with us…tears came to my eyes. I was so proud. It was amazing.

But does that mean that Occupy should camp out in front of Frank Ogawa plaza? I am starting to think not. CM Brooks stated (and I paraphrase) “This movement is bigger than a park. The movement won’t die just because you can’t camp out front.” This I agree with.

I also agree that the negative consequences of camping is unfair to the people who live in downtown Oakland and just want a safe place to be when they get home. The helicopters are annoying. And when I saw what (the small group of anarchists) did to Whole Foods..it broke my heart. On the other hand, it’s hard to control those who are bound and determined to make trouble. They were also bound and determined to make trouble before Occupy Oakland ever arrived. Is it fair to punish Occupy Oakland for this..or should the police do a better job of making sure this group does not have the opportunity to act again?

So what should happen? I don’t know. But, I do hope that the city and the Occupy Oakland team comes to some sort of peaceful agreement. I hope that both parties continue to communicate. I hope that members of the City Council and the Mayor attend General Assembly meetings and I hope that Occupy Oakland will allow them to speak. I really hope that the OPD can root out the small group of ‘anarchists’ and do something about them once and for all. Finally, I hope that Oakland residents can feel safe in their own city, while allowing other residents the opportunity to engage in peaceful and civil protest.

I will participate in the movement the best I can given my already hectic schedule. But, like I said, I believe in this movement. I can be patient and see what happens. I am optimistic.

What do you think?

Did I forget something that you think should be included? Let me know. Share your thoughts, complaints and solutions. I may not have all the answers, or any that satisfy you, but I love hearing different points of view.

So speak out!


Filed under Advocacy, City Council, Oakland, Politics

Which side am I on? #OccupyOakland’s

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere! Hella #OccupyOakland." Posted on Oakland's City Hall Wednesday evening, October 26th.

Over the past couple of weeks Oakland has become famous for something other than it’s murder rate!

#OccupyOakland has highlighted it’s rich history with civil protest and our city has once again become national news. The actions of the local police department and the city government has  given Oakland’s arm of #OccupyWallStreet new energy and support from all over the world including myself.

A couple of weeks ago I attended the Barbara Lee/Elihu Harris Lecture series featuring Dr. Dorothy Cotton and Reverend C.T. Vivian. The Lee/Harris lecture series features activists from the Civil Rights era who share words of wisdom to inspire youth. Vivian and Cotton, who both worked with Martin Luther King Junior as part of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, spoke to a roomful of young students and Oakland residents about the need for continued advocacy and activism during our current economic crisis and for the upcoming 2012 election.

A student at Merritt College opened the discussion with a question: In the struggle of justice, peace and a stronger democracy..which side are you on? I have listened to opinions pro and con about the Occupy movement and decided that is very important for me to give Occupy Oakland my full support.

Why? Because I am one of the 99 percent! 

That seems too easy right? It is..but it’s still true. I am a young African – American female, subject to the systematic racism and prejudice that plagues this country today. I am what some might call middle class, yet I’m living check to check. As an independent consultant I am what you would call a small business..something that our government often encourages more of. Yet, I am the portion of the middle class that suffers from the inequitable tax system having to pay a higher percentage of my income than those that make way more money than I do.

I have to give Vice Presidential candidate Herman Cain a small measure of credit. The fact that I am not rich is my own fault. I chose not to become a doctor or work for a corporation that would give me more money.  I chose to live in a city where home-ownership is nearly impossible for a single person.

However, I also chose to be dedicated towards helping the community, making advocacy not only part of my work but part of my life. I feel good about that choice.

Given that..choosing to support Occupy Oakland is a natural fit for me and should surprise no one.

(Some of my friends weren’t surprised at all..they fully expected to me to be one of the arrested on Tuesday night..lol!)

The Occupy Movement has no purpose..

I disagree. The occupy movement gives voice to struggle of peace, stronger democracy and justice. Many complain that there isn’t a specific goal or plan and that there are too many issues to address.  True. The occupy movement is not merely about banks taking our money to line their own pockets, or about lack of jobs. It’s about issues with race, class, prejudice. Who are most affected by the lack of jobs? African-Americans. Who is negatively affected by our horrible tax system? Middle and lower class. Who is being targeted by unfair police actions? Young minority males. Who are affected when public schools are closed? All of our children!

The eviction of occupy protestors and aggressive action by the City of Oakland/OPD against Occupy Oakland last Tuesday  has clearly demonstrated the continued struggle for peace, democracy and justice.

We can’t solve these problems with one single law, or action. That’s impossible. Yet, what can happen is that our voices can be heard and for the ‘powerful’ to realize that they can not continue with business as usual. We have the power to put our money where our mouths are. We can boycott, sit-in, march, vote, shout, dance .. but most importantly..BE HEARD!

But what does supporting Occupy Oakland accomplish?

It has encouraged people of all races, gender and economic status (within the 99% and even the 1% (Micheal Moore..Danny Glover?) to come together and speak out about equity and it has visibly shifted the political discourse.

It has made Mayor Jean Quan and the Oakland Police Department reconsider their actions against peaceful protest and prompted the City Council to hold a special meeting to evaluate Oakland’s response to future protests in the city. (Thursday, 5:30 pm, City Hall)

Bank of America is dropping their $5 fee for debit cards! Can we attribute that to Occupy?  Maybe ..maybe not. But many unhappy customers made their voices heard and a change was accomplished.

Imagine what else can be possible by continuing to speak out.

The success of the Occupy Movement can mean different things (as outlined by this blog post on CNN). However what really resonates with me is that thousands of people are willing to do  SOMETHING.

There is nothing more irritating than a complainer that does nothing. (IMO)

You have to camp out and live in a tent in order to support Occupy.

No you don’t. You can stay in your comfy bed and you can go still go to work. However, there are other things you can do to show your support

  • You can attend #Occupy general assembly meetings which usually happen early evening. You can participate in rally’s that happen over the weekend or in evenings.
  • You can attend city council meetings. (Thursday, 5 pm City Hall to discuss Occupy Oakland eviction)
  • You can share your opinions with your peers. Have discussions that generate concrete ideas and ways we can make change happen within our own sphere of influence.
  • Patronize small business.
  • You can encourage your friends to stay safe and peaceful when they participate in protests.
  • Retweet an informative tweet.  Like a facebook post.
  • You can write a letter to “The Editor” of a newspaper.
  • You can call your congressman and ask them to support bills that help the 99%.
  • You can donate to the presidential campaign that best supports your ideals.
  • You can sign petitions. Make phone calls.
  • Send in your ballot on Nov. 15th.
  • You can donate food and supplies to the tent community in downtown Oakland.
  • You can educate youth about peaceful protest.

Participation can mean many things.  The whole point of occupy is to show that the 99% are not silent doormats waiting to be stepped on.

General Strike, November 2nd

The general strike, Wednesday Nov. 2nd, is one day where we as a city can collectively raise our voices. I encourage those that can to participate. You don’t have to take a whole day off.  You can participate in three rally’s that will occur throughout the day as outlined in the poster below.

So Oakland..are you going to participate in the General Strike?

or.. General Public

Do you agree or disagree with the occupy movement?

Have thoughts about the city’s response to Occupy Oakland?

Share! Hopefully I will see you tomorrow. I will participate at 5 pm and share pics/tweets. 🙂

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Filed under Advocacy, Oakland, Politics

Oakland Gems..revisited and newly discovered.

Hola Oakland Fans!

While I was away, taking care of some side-hustle business, I got an interesting response to my Oakland Mystery post!

The spreader of good Oakland news: Justin Kanalakis wrote in to share how he got started on his journey to share  “Who Made Oakland”. Check out his reply below:

To the People of Oakland!

What a phenomenal thread of discussion around this project! This kind of public reaction and curiosity is exactly what the project was meant to inspire.

To cast some light, my name is Justin A. Kanalakis and I found the WHO MADE OAKLAND? book in my Grandfather’s library shortly after he passed. This was a couple years back and I’ve been slowly archiving and condensing the volume into a series of messages that would translate Florence B. Crocker’s message in 1925, into one that speaks to our Oakland today. The original book can be viewed at the Oakland History Room on the 2nd floor of the Oakland Main Library (I encourage anyone who’s interested to visit, take a look).

Initially the project began by wheat-pasting large posters around my neighborhood:
…and passing out smaller posters to local businesses. It has since grown to include a sponsorship by the Downtown Oakland Association which has provided a modest art grant to spread this incredible message to the People of Oakland by any means necessary. As Gene discovered, you can view the initial proposed projects here: http://whomadeoakland.com/SPONSORED_PROJECTS.html
…a lot of the energy thus far has gone into passing out free prints to people on the outskirts of the Saturday Grand Lake Farmers Market (on the corner of LakePark & Lakeshore btwn the Sprint and TMobile buildings) and hanging oversized window displays that include various messages and photography from the original book. The first of which is at 1610 Telegraph (across the street from Van Cleef Cafe), the second is scheduled to cover the HUGE windows of the Newberry building at Telegraph & 19th. There are also banners on light posts at various cross streets of Broadway in Downtown that were just hung, which include Florence’s “Invest, Build, Prosper & Live Happy in Oakland” message. Go check ‘em out when you’re downtown.

As far as the future of the project and how you can get involved, you can contact me direct at whomadeoakland@gmail.com with any ideas of how to spread the message. You can also come visit my mobile booth outside the Grand Lake Farmers Market on Saturday’s from 10am – 2pm’ish (I won’t be there this Saturday (10/22), but I’ll be back the following Saturday). I can provide you with various size prints of “To the People of Oakland.” So if you want to take a stack and hang them in your neighborhood and/or to friends/family/neighbors please email me and specify how many you want and what size(s) and I’ll print them up for you.

Thank you all for your interest and support of this project and remember, through putting energy towards making our city a better place to live, work and play, WE ARE ALL GUARDIAN ANGELS OF OAKLAND! Again, feel free to contact me with any ideas you may have to contribute to the project!

Invest, Build, Prosper & Live Happy in Oakland,
Justin A. Kanalakis
– Also visit http://www.thelakemerrittmonster.com for more historic Oakland goodness!

Be sure to check out his website..and visit his booth at the Lake Merritt Farmer’s Market! 🙂


Another good find in Oakland is the photographer of this picture:

Daniel is a worldwide traveler, DJ, photographer and a high school teacher/administrator in Oakland. After perusing his photos on Facebook, I immediately fell in love! Visit Domingoyu.com to learn more about this awesome Oakland Gem who has a mean camera aim.

Later taters..

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Filed under Love, Oakland

Oakland Mystery: who is doing this?

Oakland, have you seen this in your neighborhood?

I first saw this as a wall photo on a friends Facebook Account and thought it was awesome. Now, months later,  I was pleasantly surprised to find this wonderful poster on a pole!  Have you seen this? If not here is what it says:


Dear Friends:

It is up to you what the future of Oakland will be. Oakland is no longer a village. It is a city, a growing one. It is your duty to keep it growing, to keep it prosperous.

Oakland, with it’s wealth, beauty and brilliant future, is an ideal attained by pioneers who struggled for years over innumerable hardships. The cement, the steel, the mortar and glass and the thousand and one things which go into Oakland, was not conceived overnight.

I realize the future of Oakland is far beyond human imagination. I thank you for your wonderful work. So partake of her hospitality and prosperity, invest, build, prosper and live happy in Oakland.

Your well wisher,



Written and Compiled


Florence B. Crocker

Published in Oakland


Clyde Dalton, 1925

My inquiring mind wants to know.. who is doing this??

Is our Guardian Angel Florence B Crocker? Or is Clyde Dalton riding his wheel chair throughout Oakland and putting up posters (no offense but Clyde would be pretty old by now)?

OR is our Guardian Angel someone else altogether. Who are you???

Dear Readers: Have you seen this on your street? Comment and let me know where! Share with your online friends. Lets create an online map!

Dear Guardian Angel: Am I ruining your purpose by posting it on the internets? Let me know. I can delete the post… but I want to help you. I think having an on-line presence would be a great way to help spread your word.   Tell me your plan. Can I help you run around town putting up posters?  I’m nozy..but I won’t tell anybody if you don’t want me to. 🙂

=====UPDATE 9 Hours Later =======

We know the who..sort of. A vender of Grand Lake Farmers Market  and owner of the following website: http://whomadeoakland.com/Home.html    is our Guardian Angel.

Gene has posed this question though: “The real question is, did they install any of the associated art/signs, and is any of it still about? It’s a great idea, building on 90-year-old Oakland love.”

What say you readers? Have you seen any artwork associated with this project? I still want to know what neighborhoods have you seen this poster.

The pic of this one is on Moss Avenue in the Grand Lake area.


Filed under Advocacy, Love, Oakland

GAH! .. Adventures in Hypertension

Week Blood Pressure
1 145/90
2 148/88
3 147/90

GRRR!! .. I get that it has only been 3 weeks. Maybe it takes longer? Who knows. That should be a question I ask next week. How long does it take to make a real change? REALLY?

Hypertension Lesson #3

This week we learned about nutrition. Same old same old right? How many times have we been beat over the head with healthy eating? Eat nutritious foods, don’t eat bad foods. Period.

Stephanie decided instead of giving us the Nutritional Science lecture, to give us some handy dandy tips for us to try.

I will share 5 of them with you.

  • You like bread? Whole wheat instead of white. Pasta, sliced bread, hot dog bun, however you like it, there might be a whole wheat version. Get it. White ain’t right.. Brown is better!
  • Need to cook with oils? Olive or Canola. Why Olive? Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Very helpful in reducing high blood pressure. You can’t really cook olive oil in high heat (it breaks down those essential nutrients) so if you need to fry..Canola is your guy!
  • Beans, beans the magical fruit! They are a natural source of protein with out the fat. Half a cup of Lentils have 9 grams of protein. I have never had a lentil. Anyone got a recipe?
  • Incorporate more greens! OF the lettuces, Romaine has the highest nutritional value. Then try spinach, swiss chard and collards. I like to make spinach and tomato sandwiches. Whole wheat with the crusts cut off. Sipping on tea with my pinky in the air.

Sauteed garlic collard greens with cabbage..Yummy for my tummy! (Recipe Below)

Try this recipe of sauteed collard and cabbage from the American Heart Association. MMM mmm good.


  • LOSE the salt. For real. Previously, I stated that the RDA is 2400 mg. That’s if you have normal blood pressure. It’s 1500 mg for abnormals like myself. Luckily I am not a big salt person, HOWEVER, I do like some lemon pepper, and wouldn’t you know it- but some lemon pepper brands have salt in it! BOOOOOO!!!! Check your labels folks. Especially if you like  buffalo wings (2460 mg), spaghetti sauce (1450 mg), canned chicken noodle soup (1106 mg), Potato salad (1323 mg)..you know normal stuff.

Download a sodium lecture and a  list of foods with high and low sodium counts.  SaltReduction (pdf 528 kb) High Sodium Foods (pdf 176 kb) Low Sodium Foods (pdf 62 kb)


MORE food  ‘lecture’ handouts here: FoodFacts ( pdf 573 kb) FoodFacts2 (pdf 618 kb) FoodGroups (pdf 557 lb) FoodGroups2 (pdf 451 kb)

By the way: Alameda County Public Health Department’s: Healthy Living For Life has a lot of great tips for you the try. Check it out!


I didn’t get a homework assignment. However, we did get notice that our exercise session would be longer, so I decided to make sure I exercise often so as not to embarrass myself. 🙂


So dear reader..got any other handy advice? Who has a lentil recipe? It had better be good, I’m a picky eater. 🙂

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Filed under Health, Hypertension