Thursday, October 18, 2012

Update 4: Eco-Oakland, Riveting Richmond, and Groovy SF

I can't believe that I'm out in Oakland, California.  As someone who seldom likes to leave New England, it seems bizarre to me to be traveling the country.  But I have a very dear friend out here who has wanted me to visit for a long time and this seemed like the best opportunity I'd have.  I took the train out here and I will write a post on my train adventures in the near future.

While I've been in Oakland I've visited some of the community groups that my friend has been working with.  One is Phat Beets Produce. They have a garden where they teach young people about growing food and make all of what they're growing available to the neighborhood.  They also run a great little farmer's market, which we visited on last Saturday. Another cool group that he is involved with is the People's Grocery.  They have a garden behind the California Hotel--a place which houses people with disabilities. When we visited the People's Grocery they were hosting an event where they made 'smoothies' with fresh vegetables and fruit and offered them to anyone who came by the busy urban intersection by the Hotel (located in a very low income area).  The MC for the event managed to pursuade on young skeptical kid to try a smoothie--which he then spat out.  Turns out he likes eating nachos.  But the MC stayed with him and got the smoothie makers to create a fresh food drink that he liked.  Maybe this will spark an interest in eating better--or at least create a seed that might flower later.  I was very impressed with the work that both of these groups are doing.

My friend and I also took a bike ride up to the Rosie the Riveter National Historical Park in Richmond, CA.  (Richmond is few towns north of Oakland.)  This is an amazing exhibit about how the needs around World War II led to changes that eventually sparked many social change efforts.  It gave me a view of the situation of women, blacks, and Asian and Latin groups in the 1940s and how the war changed everything.  It was a good reminder that the movements of the 50s, 60s, and 70s, did not come out of nowhere.  (For more on this time in US history, see my posts on World War Once More, 3/2/09, through Social Movements in the Seventies, 3/30/09.)

Recently we had a great time in San Francisco, which is across the bay from here. We did Sunday morning meditation with the Gay Buddhist Fellowship which had a nice group of mellow men, took in some of the 'Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival' (which featured Patti Smith--who is truly hardly bluegrass and who we didn't see--and Emmy Lou Harris--who is sort of bluegrass and who we caught a little of), and spent a night at the Red Victorian in Haight Ashbury which is not only a bed and breakfast, but also "a living peace museum".  Needless to say, wandering around Haight Ashbury was a trip.  Monday we biked around Golden Gate Park where we saw bison, as well as a whale off in the distance in San Francisco harbor and a blue heron up very close up in the lagoon behind the Tree Fern exhibit (very prehistoric looking) in the Park.

There are some wild and amazing things happening out here in the Bay Area.  But, much as I've enjoyed it, New England is still my home and I'm still hoping to settle down somewhere on the east coast.

Quote of the Day:  "What We Work For, What We Want:
  1. Health Care Without Harm
  2. Strong Economic Opportunities for small, disenfranchised farmers [sic]
  3. Edible Parks, Edible Communities
  4. Neighborhood Based Food Micro-Enterprise
  5. Empowered Youth that Shape their Food System
  6. Resiliant Communities Organized Through Food and Healing" - Phat Beets Produce brochure

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