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How Oakland Is Turning Into an Art and Maker Mecca 109

Posted by samzenpus
from the maker-space-with-an-oakland-duty dept.
First time accepted submitter Kevin Lee writes "The maker scene is taking off in Oakland with towering industrial art, that at times stands 70 feet high, and DIY business that made locally created goods by hand. But while this is a flourishing creative environment is popping off with new ideas, there's a battle in Oakland that could pave over this rich community with new residential housing. The Oakland Makers is a new initiative by artists and makers that hopes revitalize Oakland as a new advanced manufacturing hub and city that thrives on the making culture."
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How Oakland Is Turning Into an Art and Maker Mecca

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  • Rites of Spring FTW!

  • Maybe they can make some affordable housing, seem to be alot of accusations of gentrification when I read about Oakland.
    • I don't know about this gentrification you speak of, but the air coming in through the Golden Gate is pretty damn sweet, if you're not downwind of the sewage treatment plant or some derelict bum.
      You talking about Rockridge or something? All of the wealthy areas I can think of have always been wealthy. Seriously wealthy in some of my favorite places.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      There are spots in SF where they are opposed to street sweeping as it's a gateway to gentrification.

  • The last time I was there, there was a rich community of wannabe rap artists, con artists, and pimping artists.

    • I haven't been around in years but the artists I knew weren't exactly wannabes. Or rich [google.com] I once saw a friend polishing a big metal bean that looked weirdly artistic. [hamishcarp...graphy.com]

    • In short, it has. The article briefly touches on this, and it was also discussed here a few weeks ago. [slashdot.org] All these people are getting pushed out of SF because of the rising cost of living, and that's having a smaller gentrification effect on Oakland. It's by no means completely changed, but I fully expect to be reading stories in a few years that are basically copy/pasted with s/San Francisco/Oakland.

  • by catfood (40112) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @08:34AM (#44641257) Homepage

    There are quite a few cities named Oakland [wikipedia.org] and the references to steel sculptures made suburban Pittsburgh sound reasonable.

    It's about seven paragraphs in that they tell us which Oakland they're talking about: "Oakland is also more affordable than San Francisco, its bigger, more glamorous sibling across the Bay."

    Oh. Thanks.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Summary should have just said "The one where you'll get shot for your sneakers".

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      It is by far the most famous one.
      Unless you live in Pittsburgh no one would ever think of that one.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Actually, most of what outsiders think of when they think about Pittsburgh (aside from the sports teams) is in Oakland. While it's not the hub of the city it certainly is one of the best neighborhoods. And it is known for being the art community of Pittsburgh if you can consider any place in Pittsburgh to have an art community. But you know, unless you live in Pittsburgh you'd never even think twice about the community unless you're one of the thousands of students that graduate from Pitt or CMU... both of
        • I live in the same state as Pittsburgh, have numerous friends and co-workers from there. My brother attended Carnegie Mellon where I visited him on more than one occasion. And I have never heard of this Oakland of which you speak. None of which is an attempt to say that it does not exist, merely that no one outside of the Pittsburgh area is familiar with it.
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          You're not asking a lot, you're just asking a lot more than is necessary.

          • by catfood (40112)

            Apparently clear writing is considered "a lot more than is necessary" these days.

            Why be ambiguous when clarity requires one more word?

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          I lived in PA for years. I have never until today known of this Oakland you are writing about. I bet basically no one who lives outside Pittsburgh knows it exists.

          Do you really expect all articles to be written for those who live in your city?

        • by invid (163714)
          When I hear Oakland I think of O-fries.
        • Today I Learned that there is an Oakland near Pittsburgh.
      • by catfood (40112)
        Pittsburgh is a pretty solid arts town, and considering how prominently steel sculpture figures into the story? The writer and editors forgot their national and global audience. They need to get out more.
        • by rgmoore (133276)

          You're being unreasonable. An unqualified reference to Oakland made to a general audience is almost always to the one in California, just as an unqualified reference to Paris is the capital of France, and an unqualified reference to Manhattan is the one in New York.

  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @08:38AM (#44641291)

    "Maker" is a non-concept. "Locally created goods by hand" is what people have done since the cavemen. Just because you build something, but you blog about it or post instagram pictures about it, doesn't make this anything new, or interesting. You're not a "maker" if you build a table or a bicycle or a RaspberriPi-powered toaster, you're just a guy who builds tables or bicycles or toasters.

    • by somersault (912633) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @08:50AM (#44641355) Homepage Journal

      The majority of people are pure consumers these days, so I don't see that big of a deal in coining a word for hobbyists who like to build things.

      • by Oligonicella (659917) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @08:57AM (#44641403)
        To correct your view a touch: the majority of *urban* people are pure consumers. Out here in the boons, it's still the standard way of life. Everyone welds, constructs, fixes and "makes".
        • by h4rr4r (612664) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @09:19AM (#44641599)

          Bullshit. I have lived in the boonies, they just drive to the nearest wal-mart.

        • I wouldn't say the majority of people in the countryside are all good mechanics either. More than in the city, but not the majority. At least, not here in the UK.

          • by xaxa (988988)

            I wouldn't say the majority of people in the countryside are all good mechanics either. More than in the city, but not the majority. At least, not here in the UK.

            That just depends on the city. London and NYC are full of people who skim money while moving bits of paper around, but that's not because they're cities.

            I reckon Birmingham UK (or Detroit USA) have more good mechanics than average.

        • by pspahn (1175617)

          To correct your view a touch: The majority of *sub-urban* people are pure consumers. Here in the city, it's still the standard way of life. Everyone buys stuff from thrift stores, has a community vegetable garden, and rides a bike to work.

        • Out here in the boons, it's still the standard way of life. Everyone welds, constructs, fixes and "makes".

          I've lived in the boons also, and what you describe is HOW IT USED TO BE. With the advent of ubiquitous gaming, computers and digital entertainments of all forms, less and less of the younger generation "make" anymore, and an others comment about going to Wal-Mart is right on the money. Just because you live in a small town doesn't mean you can "make" anything.

          You're more likely to "build" a Facebook profile...

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      The idea is that these folks are not simply consumers and would like to be grouped. The group maker includes guy who makes bicycles and guy who makes toasters, but neither of those includes the other.

    • It's an offshoot of the concept that ***the process*** is what's important in art, not the resultant quality. I agree, "maker" is a general and too vague to be worthwhile title title in and of itself.

      You can make a table out of a piece of plywood and four posts, but that doesn't make you a furniture maker. "Maker" seems (like in art) just a way to sidestep the term craft.
    • by mcmonkey (96054)

      It's this generation of precious snowflakes. Everything they do is "special".

      This story reminds me of the link (it was either or on fark) to a web log entry someone had written about putting tea bags and water in a glass jar and leaving it in the sun to brew. Apparently the same people who will complain about a system that takes an old idea and adds "web" or "mobile" and treats it as new have no problem with taking an old idea and putting it in a "blog" and treating it as new. I guess for some people som

      • by timeOday (582209)

        It's this generation of precious snowflakes. Everything they do is "special".

        That cliche is at least two generations old.

      • Yep.

        It started with youth sports where "everyone is a winner", then was amplified ad infinitum via our Lord and Savior The Internet.
        Now get the fuck off my lawn.
    • Spot on. But 'Maker' is the current buzzword de jour.

      But for the most part, it seems what these folks are creating isn't handmade goods in the traditional sense, but art pieces. So really, this article seems to mostly be a song-and-dance I've heard a hundred times before, all across the country - "keep cheap rent and rundown buildings and somehow magic will happen and the artists will bring honor and glory and gold to the city".

      I can't recall offhand a single case in which this has turned out to be true.

    • "Maker" is a non-concept.

      "Maker" and "cloud" are two words that make me cringe whenever I read/hear them. Don't get me started on "meme."

    • It's analogous to the current "ubran homesteading" hype. I've been growing gardens in my backyards for years, but now it's all of a sudden trendy and hip to grow a garden.
    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      It's easier to get more retweets if you use #maker hashtag.

  • The article is not about "a new advanced manufacturing hub". It's about a bunch of artists.
  • by Virtucon (127420) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @08:55AM (#44641389)

    I say there's more fertile ground for change in Detroit where they could really use the boost.

    1) Housing is cheap, dirt cheap.
    2) The government would welcome anything at this point to bring in new sources of industry and technology. Flight out of Greater Detroit has left a vacuum of fresh ideas and people.
    3) There's a willing labor force who would jump at any opportunity.

    Oakland is fine but we also need to stop concentrating on areas that are already prosperous and assist other areas that can use our help.

    • by TWiTfan (2887093)

      But would I have to live in Detroit?

      • by Virtucon (127420)

        Life is full of compromises.

      • Is Detroit really all that different from Oakland, other than the weather?

        They're both virtually bankrupt cities full of rampant crime and poor people. One has just gone from virtually bankrupt to actually bankrupt.
    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      1) How much of it is not in ruins?
      2) They can't even afford enough dog catchers, how would they deal with new citizens?

      • by Virtucon (127420)

        1) They bulldoze down most of the ruins. There are huge tracts of land already available with streets and utilities at hand. Think of it as a blank canvas.
        2) Detroit had millions of people in it, they can handle a few hundred or a few thousand. They have access to transportation infrastructure: Air, Rail, Sea and Michigan has a huge workforce development program. I think if you were going to do small scale manufacturing the labor costs and economic incentives would be hard to resist.

    • Detroit's climate sucks, and it isn't as "cool" as California.

      • by Virtucon (127420)

        You mean not as many hippies and reprobates as in California? I was talking about the state and local government, not the people.

  • Maker scene (Score:5, Funny)

    by rossdee (243626) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @08:57AM (#44641401)

    I thought that a Maker was a term used by Fremen to refer to the giant sandworms of Arrakis

    • by Anonymous Coward

      No, Maker is a title and the word recognized by Fremen when used by Outfreyn exploiting the work of the Missionaria Protectiva. Shai-hulud is the term Fremen use.

      So, when they start talking about the Shai-hulud of Oakland, then I'll pay attention.

      (And that's why I'll never get laid....)

    • I thought that a Maker was a term used by Fremen to refer to the giant sandworms of Arrakis.

      Nope. It's a reference to the top diety in the Centauri belief system.

      • by neminem (561346)

        No, it's a term used by American frontiersmen to refer to people with skills particularly suited to fighting against the god of entropy, The Unmaker.

  • There is an irony that this thriving maker culture is being threatened by its cousin, the Silicon Valley start up culture, which is driving the massive spike in cost of living across the region.
    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      No, SF is much much more expensive than silicon valley, and there's not that many start ups in the city itself except for some low tech media oriented stuff like twitter. "Start ups" are also not rich, the vast majority of them go bust and no one makes money at them unless they remembered to ask for a salary instead of stock options. SF is a big legal and financial hub which is which drives a lot of the money that's floating around.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...don't come to Oakland. It's terrible here. There is no good food or good bars. There is no good place to see live shows. The weather is terrible. All this space and open parking is just too much for normal city people. Also, with San Francisco right next door you should really just go there because it's a great city with so much to offer. Besides..you'll probably get shot if you come to Oakland..right? That's what the headlines say...and you should really trust what the media says.

    But seriously..do

    • by PCM2 (4486)

      But seriously..don't come here...I like it the way it is and don't want everyone messing it up with their bad attitudes.

      Oh, the irony.

      How about this one: All these people who have been fleeing San Francisco because of the ridiculously high rents are just doing to Oakland what they've been bitching about "rich yuppies" doing to San Francisco for years. Meanwhile, Oakland is a city with a long history, was a pivotal hub of the civil rights movement, has traditionally been home to generations of families (mostly black), and now all of the people who have called the East Bay their home for decades are being pushed out because al

      • Many of them just moved here a few years ago and have no real connection to Oakland or the Bay Area in general (other than writing articles and blog posts about how AMAZING the Oakland arts scene is) and their so-called cultural renaissance is really just classic market-driven gentrification, displacing the culture that was already there in favor of something totally manufactured and transient.

        Bingo...

        My dad was born in Oakland, raised in The City. My dads side of the family left SF years ago because of the cost of living, etc; Many of them don't even live in the BA anymore...
        Almost no one who live in SF is from there, let alone California.

    • by xevioso (598654)

      I won't go there. I live across the bay in SF, and I know better. What the above article doesn't mention is the fact that Oakland is #1 in the nation for robberies. #1. Now that is saying something,

      http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_23191895/oakland-robbery-capital-america?source=pkg [mercurynews.com]

      Oaklanders endured one robbery for every 91 residents last year. That not only was the city's highest robbery rate in two decades, it was the highest of any major American city since 2000.

      You have a complete idiot for a mayor, wh

  • by kpoole55 (1102793) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @11:50AM (#44643595)

    Best pay attention to that "affordable housing" philosophy happening in Oakland. We're suffering the same process here in Vancouver, Canada. Whole neighbourhoods of single family homes are planned to be demolished to make room for 8 story and higher apartment towers. The main problem is that when you're planning to rebuild whole neighbourhoods, it's not sufficient to just build as lots become available by buying out the owners or as the older owners die or move into seniors care. We've already had some properties expropriated from their owners to make their land available to the developers building the new apartments. Make sure this is clear, this is not expropriation for projects for the common good but expropriation to help a developer make money under the guise of "sustainable and affordable" development.

    Look up ICLEI, and how it's directing the community planning policies in your area. If you're in one of the brighter areas that have withdrawn from ICLEI, make sure your by-laws and zoning policies have been cleared of the ICLEI influence.

    • by HungWeiLo (250320)

      Vancouver's real estate market is nuts.

      A friend of mine owns a single family home 2 houses from a fire station, on a major 4-lane boulevard, under the Sky Train, and in a neighborhood known for break-ins.

      He just sold for $950,000 to a condo developer.

  • I have a friend who lives in Oakland who is an artist. He wants to get the hell out after a neighbor was shot and killed sittingin her car. Oakland's crime rate is out of control and city officials seem powerless to stop it.

    It's sad really. Oakland is actually a great location and has some of the best weather in the Bay Area but it's been overrun by gangs and poverty. There are still some areas of Oakland that are OK such as up in the hills, but that area is insanely expensive, well out of reach for artists

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