A large part of what makes me who I am is where I’m from. Moving back to Oakland last year renewed a sense of belonging and place for me. Before my recent time in Portland, I was living and working out of a studio in Richmond for a few years. I frequented Oakland, but not enough to notice the daily heartbeat of the city. Living back in ‘the town’ has awaken a sense of community and growth for me. Of course I’ve noticed the significant changes in the neighborhoods over the last few years, as well as the last 15-25, and feel positive about the overall growth of the city. I do still see areas plagued with the usual grit and grind of the city which will never go away and is, in-part, what makes Oakland truly Oakland. Although I hate to see hard-working people driven out of the city due to a sky-rocketed renter’s market, I do embrace the commerce and support of new local small businesses. As an entrepreneur building my own business, I understand how crucial it is to have strong community support and feel Oakland is the perfect place for that.
The neighborhood I’m living/working in now is called east Peralta, or lower East Lake. It’s mostly chinese and vietnamese working class families mixed with semi-industrious warehouse businesses. I like it. It’s quiet, next to the water, and easy to get to. My studio is within blocks of the Oakland Museum, Lake Merrit and Chinatown, yet I’m also really close to Fruitvale and Alameda. Deciding where to eat out is sort of hard sometimes when you have everything from peking duck and fresh ha gau, to some of the best pupusa and taco trucks known to mankind (so I hear).
As I sit and eat my food at many of these places I reflect on what it means to be from Oakland. Oakland has taught me to be open-minded but self-aware, to be tough yet passive, and to be confidant and optimistic, yet remain humble and realistic. I thank you Oakland for keeping it real and for making me proud to call you home.