Throw Down for the Town: Make Trashcans into Beautiful Mosaics
In 1927, Ella Baker said: "Awake youth of the land and accept this noble challenge of salvaging the strong ship of civilization by the anchors of right, justice, and love." It is in this proactive and determined spirit that our Soul of the City members are proud to host many projects throughout our beautiful Oakland on Saturday, July 28th at the 2nd Annual Throwdown for the Town.
Our Policy & Advocacy workgroup is cooking up some exciting things for the future but in the meantime, we are looking forward to engaging with our neighbors and community through our trashcan container beautification project in Snow Park. We will be working with local residents to mosaic the outside panels of those giant beige concrete trashcan containers you see on the streets. No experience necessary, just a desire to wield a hammer, get a little dusty and make one more corner of Oakland a little more unique, playful and vibrant.
Through the City of Oakland Public Works Agency, any Oakland resident can Adopt A Spot - that is - "play an active and ongoing role in cleaning, greening and beautifying parks, creeks, streets and other public spaces." Last year we had a very successful example of spot adoption at a bus stop on E. 14th. I volunteered at this project and doing beautification work alongside other Oakland residents was so rewarding and the end result was beautiful. Even better than the day itself was what came out of it - what was originally a dilapidated bus stop filled with weeds and graffiti became an ongoing inspiration as neighbors noticed that a unknown caretaker started maintaining the weeding we started and no one has tagged the fence since.
In a time when so much doesn't seem to be in our control, it is these simple but significant gestures that remind us that with a little elbow grease, planning and love, we can empower and reclaim our neighborhoods and community identity by actively caring for our neighborhood and environment.
I first learned about spot adoption while volunteering my time to my own neighborhood group and I have to tell you - I'm not sure what is more better, the sense of pride I feel when I walk down the street and see those beautiful tiles representing Oakland themes that I had the honor of contributing to or the reactions we got week after week from people passing by who were so happy, excited and appreciative that people in the neighborhood cared enough to do this work. They were shocked when we told them that we didn't work for the city and weren't getting paid. While people's generous donations have helped that project flourish, the renewed sense of identity and Oakland pride is truly priceless.
Oakland is the first place I've truly felt comfortable calling "home" and I feel honored to join you - (yes - you reading this right now!) - and the rest of my oaklandish comrades on Saturday, July 28th to mosaic. After hammertime, don't forget to come join us in Snow Park for live music, food, crafts and most importantly - the chance to connect with your community.
Someone asked me recently what I loved most about Oakland and while it's hard to choose with all the art, activism, scenery, history, and good food, the first thought that came to mind was - the people. Soul of the City, the Ella Baker Center and Oakland are people-powered movements and I'm so excited to see where that momentum will take us next!
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