Soul of the City

July 28, 2012
Do you want to help Oakland blossom into a vibrant and thriving city? Join Soul of the City for our second annual day of service and community building. The day will feature over 30 community-hosted service projects followed by a festival in Snow Park. Interested in hosting a project?
March 22, 2012
We will be discussing Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan, Ph.D. & Cacilda Jethá, M.D.This book was one of NPR's favorite books of 2010. Contact Alicia for the location info...
April 07, 2012
We will be learning how to gather signatures to put the 1% Tax on the ballot in November. . We only have a few weeks to qualify. It is now or never -- California and Oakland needs YOU!

Solving the challenges before us starts in our own neighborhoods. Soul of the City's Serve Our City projects are member-led efforts that promote the health and well-being of Oakland. By bringing our neighbors together, Soul of the City is transforming the way we relate to each other to build a city based on shared values, mutual respect and love.  

Each service project focuses on building the power and capacity of Oakland residents to work together in community so that all of us can thrive.  Whether that means coming together to build a rooftop garden, plant trees, or painting a mural, all of these actions and many more, represent Oaklanders taking ownership, responsibility and pride in our city. 

Visit our events page to learn about upcoming community service projects. 

Soul of the City gives people hands on opportunity to shape the political and cultural life of Oakland.  As a core member of Oakland Rising, we mobilize low-income, immigrant, and communities of color to actively engage in the elections and policy-making that impact their lives.

With Oakland Rising, we participate in at least three Civic Engagement Programs each year. Each educates and mobilizes voters in the flatlands of our city to shape the issues impacting our lives.  Each campaign develops effective tools to engage more and more Oakland residents too often left behind in the political process. 

Get involved with our current Civic Engagement Program with Oakland Rising. 


Reclaim the FutureReclaim the Future builds the leadership of young adults and develops our collective power to solve the problems facing our community. This workshop is the entry point for joining Soul of the City's membership.

The Reclaim the Future workshop is a journey designed to leave participants inspired to take action in their community. This powerful half-day experience uses multi-media tools combined with group activities and personal reflection.  

In 2011, we launched Reclaim the Future and hosted 6 workshops with 120 participants, providing 480 hours of leadership development to the Oakland community. 

Check back soon for upcoming workshop dates.

Questions? Email:

I've assumed that if I wanted to see something happen in my community, I have to wait for some other power or some entity to come in and set that up for me. And now I know that is the complete opposite of reality. I can do whatever I want to do.

- James, West Oakland resident

What People are Saying about Reclaim the Future:

"The workshop provided a great atmosphere with a diverse and open group of people who spoke freely and openly about issues of importance. I was personally moved and motivated by the questions that were asked, the answers that were given and the openness in which the dialogue was received."

"Moving. Inspiring. Activating."

"It was emotional and moving, concise and forward, open and free of judgement. I would come to every workshop Soul of the City offered."

"It was a great workshop for new social justice advocates, as well as a reminder to those who have been in the work for a while."



Our Oakland-based campaign gives people hands-on opportunities to shape the political and cultural life of Oakland. Soul of the City provides community members with a variety of ways to shape our city, because we believe that shovels and paintbrushes, marches and ballots are all important tools for achieving change.

We bring together the community of Oaklanders that believe a different city is possible and who are willing to work with their neighbors to achieve that vision.

Our History

The Soul of the City campaign launched on President Obama’s inauguration day in 2009- a moment that symbolized hope and change. Soul of the City continues to remind people that hope and change lies within and among the people.  

In fact, in our first two years alone, Soul of the City members logged over 1500 hours of community service and voter mobilization. In addition, since 2009 Soul of the City has:

  • Launched the annual Throw Down from the Town: The Oakland Service Festival, engaging nearly 400 community members in 25 different service projects in its first year.
  • Debuted Reclaim the Future, the initial training for Soul of the City members.
  • Participated in three yearly civic engagement campaigns with Oakland Rising.
  • Engaged Soul of the City members in political education workshops such as Camp Wellstone and Camp Calls providing skills and information on redistricting, electoral campaigns, ballot initiatives and more.
  • Supported member-initiated projects such as community art and our monthly Book Club.
After a hard day of volunteering across Oakland cleaning up, planting gardens and helping at libraries, hundreds of Oaklanders got their boogie on Saturday at Mosswood Park for the first "Throw Down for the Town" put on by the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. As part of Soul of the...
Over 200 Oaklanders spent Saturday cleaning up parks, gardens and bus stops, or volunteering at 24 other service sites throughout the city for the first-ever “Throw Down for the Town” event. Organized by the Ella Baker Center, the event brought neighbors out to help beautify their...
"Hundreds of volunteers will work this week on 25 service projects in Oakland. KGO's Scott Lettieri reports on the community-based gathering, called "Throw Down for the Town." The day is meant for the community to come together and take ownership of their..."...