Gentrifying Oakland, Part One
Last week I finished a massive piece on Oakland gentrification for Next City. Even at 4,500 words it felt incomplete -- there’s so much happening in the town right now that it’s difficult to sum it up accurately and place it into some semblance of context without writing a whole damn book. I ended up interviewing nearly 20 people, from longtime residents to business owners to the newly elected mayor, depicted in the underdrawing above. Given how stand-offish Mayor Jean Quan has been during her four years as mayor, I was surprised by the fact that Libby Schaaf so readily met with me, let alone that she was incredibly blunt in our conversation. She's a very good politician -- I know that her main priority will be policing crime when she takes office in January, but with me she emphasized affordable housing strategies and efforts aimed at incubating local small businesses owned by people of color. I would've liked to sketch her in person, but we had only 15 minutes to talk, so I ended up working from reference photos, which was kind of a bummer. I'll post more underdrawings this week -- the piece will be up next Monday.