In December, I plan to open a bakery on 5th Street and Brush in Oakland. My cupcake business, Angel Cakes, has been a catering operation for the last 7 years, renting shared kitchen spaces around Berkeley and Oakland. Silly as it sounds, cupcakes allow me to support myself and allow me to participate in a variety of social justice movement work and organizing in an unpaid and volunteer capacity.
I’m currently running a crowdfunding campaign to assist me in buying all of the appliances I need to make the business work. For the first time Angel Cakes will have a storefront that is open to the public.
The space I’m moving into is the former Gingerbread House Restaurant, which closed in 2007. The area feels mostly industrial and similar to (but without the development of) Jack London Square, which it is on the edge of. A few blocks away, there are other small food businesses, like BRIX 581, Venga Paella, and Autobahn Café.
I strive to be aware of gentrification and my role in it, and conscious of the impact of where I live and work. I’ve coordinated discussions and events on the topic, and have given my time and money to organizations that I think are doing good work.
When considering this location, two of the factors that were important to me were: who owns the building, and I am I directly displacing a resident or business?
First, the cafe space I’m moving into, a portion of the original restaurant, has been empty since the restaurant closed in 2007, so no one is moving out so I can move in. I like that I am putting a food business where there was originally a food business.
Also, the building was bought by people I know, who are long-term area residents. They are buying the building to use it and are not a developer just looking to make a profit.
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These readings on gentrification in the Bay (and generally) have been helpful in informing me on the issue, in no particular order:
- Development without Displacement: Resisting Gentrification in the Bay Area
Causa Justa :: Just Cause
- The Struggle For the Flatlands: How Oakland Can Fight Gentrification
Maria Poblet/Organizing Upgrade
- How Burrowing Owls Lead to Vomiting Anarchists (or SF’s Housing Crisis Explained)
Kim-Mai Cutler / TechCrunch
- The Ethics of Gentrification, Social and Personal
- California Screaming
Nathan Heller / The New Yorker
- Evict This: A History of Housing in West Oakland and Tools to Resist Displacement
East Bay Solidarity Network
- Neill Sullivan’s Oakland
Darwin BondGraham / East Bay Express
- Gentrification: No Resting Place, Pt. 1
- A Hard Look at Gentrification
Ta-Nehisi Coates / The Atlantic
- Who Owns Your Neighborhood? The Role of Investors in Post-Forclosure Oakland
- The First Cycle of Gentrification in West Oakland, CA: 1998-2008
- American Babylon: Race and The Struggle for Postwar Oakland
Robert O Self
- The New Urban Frontier: Gentrification and the Revanchist City
- Living for the City: Migration, Education, and the Rise of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California
Donna Jean Murch
Here are some links to organizations in the SF Bay Area who are working on this issue, and in my opinion are doing effective work. I will continue to follow and support these groups:
- Anti-Eviction Mapping Project
- Eviction Free SF
- Causa Justa :: Just Cause
- San Francisco Community Land Trust
- East Bay Solidarity Network