We were feeling pretty baked by the sun, so we decided to head to our final destination: Lake Merritt. The lake looked so invited as we rode by; it was a beautiful and idyllic scene to see so many boats out on the water. When we rode in to the lake park, we saw that the SF Mime Troupe was on stage with its latest performance. We opted not to stop. We wanted to check out Oaklandish’s Radio Regatta. Oaklandish designed a party on the lake and at the boathouse, complete with DJs, archival film and sangria. It was the perfect day to relax by the lake and everyone knew it! There were lots of people there. The way it worked: you could rent a boat at half price---you were given a radio that was tuned in to the DJ’s radio frequency, so you could enjoy the tunes while you paddled or sailed or simply floated on the water. And they were playing so pretty awesome old-timey music.
We set up our kiosk down by the boat dock; we spoke with close to fifty people. Because it was an alternative artsy crowd, most people ‘got’ what we were doing and were eager to fill out surveys. One guy, who was not too familiar with Oakland, described both West and East as “stupid, dumb and hyphy” , which is actually part of the lyrics to a popular rap song by mistah fab. You can take a listen to the song here and read the lyrics here. We talked to a guy who helps run the boating program who told us about a project that his dad is working on: over the past 25 years, he has roller bladed every single street in Oakland! Now he is working on skating all of the streets in Albany, Berkeley and El Cerrito. It is a pretty nifty project; check it out at tristo.org.
A lot of people described West Oakland as ‘gentrified’ and East Oakland as ‘ethnic’. One person said that “West Oakland was destroyed by urban renewal and East Oakland is a street car suburb without the street cars.” Another woman said that “both areas are economically poor compared to other parts of Oakland, but with many old, proud communities and creative people therein.” One of our favorite comments was that “Oakland is like a family member: sometimes you don’t like it, but you always love it!”
You can read all of the surveys here.