July 18, 2016

How Have You Seen Oakland Change?

What Oakland residents said when we asked about this controversial topic

By Kristian Contreras and Daniel Zapien, OMCA Connect Bloggers

With contributions from Jess Tse

The upcoming exhibition Oakland, I want you to know… explores the current and historic change in West Oakland, which represents a small sample of the issues impacting Oakland and cities across the country. Our bloggers went to events throughout Oakland over the past few months, asking community members for their honest opinions on change and what makes Oakland great. Their words will be compiled in Lost + Found, a zine produced by OMCA Connect in collaboration with Rock Paper Scissors, along with original photography, artwork, and illustrations. The zine will be released at a party at the Museum on September 2.

Below, here are some of their responses to the question “How have you seen Oakland change over the years?”

A lot of opportunities are opening up, but on the flip side it’s pushing out the culture of the city. As a family man it’s good—everyone’s trying to clean it up—but I’d say it’s not that good for the culture. — Jamie

When I came back to Oakland in 2012, I used to talk about the idea of a renaissance happening; a ton of ground-level ingenuity amongst young people coming together and creating their own identity, their own work, and their own platforms. I’ve seen that grow over the past four years into something that’s really true. When I first started talking about it, it was just something in my imagination, but each year I see that coming more into fruition. — Max Gibson

One change is seeing, now that Oakland made the “hottest places to visit” lists a few times, how many people wanna be here and how that shifted people’s energy. For you to want to stay here, there’s a certain fire to keep up with the people coming in who already have resources. — Sasha Kelley

There’s definitely been displacement and things have been changing pretty rapidly in Oakland. There’s some statistic that rent is one of the highest in the country and you’d never have thought that with Oakland. Some people come in not knowing anything about the history of Oakland, and it’s those people and the developers that are making it harder for people to stay here and enjoy the benefits that are also coming. — Ariana

I guess just the rent increasing, more white people, more four dollar coffees. Yeah, some changes are more noticeable than others, but Oakland is very different from any other city [because of] the energy around art, music, and culture. More strongholds of culture in Latino, Asian, and Black communities are present and visible in Oakland than other cities you go to. — Max

I’ve been in Oakland 30 years. I love it. There’s no place like Oakland. Oakland is a great place. I like the way it’s grown up and developed. It’s kinda laid back and kicked back. I wouldn’t change anything. I would let Oakland take its natural growth and develop to where it’s going to go. If you don’t change, you can’t grow. So yeah, I love the change in Oakland. — Sherif Costello

I’ve lived in Oakland five years. Oakland is a fantastic place, but it’s too expensive for hardworking people these days. There are certain things I love. We live by the lake and the lake has just gotten so beautiful lately. There’s been a lot of money invested in taking care of it. The things I don’t like are the high cost of living, the displacement of the people who have lived here for years, and the loss of diversity. I feel like there is a new influx of racism and classism that wasn’t here as much when we first got here and I am concerned for the amount of people who are displaced and the people who can no longer afford to live here. — Julie

I’ve lived in Oakland all my life. Affordable housing is absolutely ridiculous. You have all these really big tech companies coming in and then little college students like me have to pay $2,700 dollars for a studio and it’s just unrealistic. Oakland is changing progressively. But with change, you can’t push people out. It’s a difference. We’re all changing together. So, I would say that change is awesome, but maybe the way we are implementing it? Not so much. — Jessica

Oakland, I want you to know… runs from July 23 through October 30, 2016. The Lost + Found zine will be released as a part of Makers & Tasters during a party on September 2 with a DIY zine-making workshop, a DJ, and other festivities for Friday Nights @ OMCA. The zine will also be available for free in the exhibition after its release.

The opinions expressed in this interview do not necessarily reflect those of the Oakland Museum of California, its staff, Board of Directors, or other affiliated parties.