21 August 2009

Oakland on my mind

True to stereotype, as a San Franciscan, I typically don't spend a great deal of time thinking about -- much less being in -- Oakland. Yes I know, I know. I hear the East Bay has a lot of cool stuff. The debate around here regarding the relative merits of one side of the Bay or another will probably NEVER be exhausted*. Friends of mine who either live across the bay or venture over there regularly tell me about the awesomeness of Bakesale Betty, Berkeley Bowl, the Alameda Flea Market... the affordable housing... The sunny summers! For better or worse, the East Bay just isn't usually in my rotation. Or usually on the mind.

Till lately. On my 15-minute BART rides to and from work, and during stolen moments snuck in here and there, I've been spending time in Oakland. On an unlikely homestead in the middle of the 'hood. I'm only a few chapters into Novella Carpenter's Farm City, but I'm finding it one of those rare books that is interesting (to me at least--I'm into growing food, curious about bee-keeping and jealous of people who have chickens), extremely tightly written, personal and funny. It's an engaging, unfolding story of Ms Carpenter's adventures raising her own food on squatted land and finding a like-minded community in an Oakland neighborhood called GhostTown, a partly abandoned area filled with stripped cars, rowdy bars a diverse array of eccentrics.

If you've read it, imagine Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Vegetable Miracle -- which was also part memoir, part instructional -- but set in the 'hood and told by a city-loving, (self-described) "un-cool" anti-hipster. If you're into the DIY spirit and enjoy really good writing, maybe I'll see you at the farm in the 'hood.

*OK, on the funny side, Rebecca shared this HI-larious video about the fabulous land across the Bay. Thanks, Rebecca... my East Bay education is much richer now.

1 comment:

  1. Gotta do my civic duty here and remind everyone that ALL lakes smell - not just ours.

    And also, I would like to borrow that book when you're done!


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