25. scenes from downtown oakland
thinking about community in the new year
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Well, here we are, at the start of a new year. And while many of the issues of 2020 are still being carried over into this new year, I hope that we will be able to reset some aspects of our lives for what is to come.
During my little break last week, I completed Susannah Conway's Unravel Your Year workbook. (I promise this is not #sponcon—I just discovered her recently and am just obsessing over her ability to think of questions that really make me reflect.) While not every prompt called to me, I did use her guidance to pick a word for 2021.
When I've done this in the past, I've just sort of went with a word or phrase that I wanted to embody that year (previous ones have included "Why not?" and "Resilience"). It just came from the gut and my mood the day that I thought of it. But this year, I thought a bit more about this word. Two prompts that were really helpful to this practice were:
Think about whether you need an ACTIVE word or a PASSIVE word for 2021.
Similarly, do you need an INWARD word or an OUTWARD word in 2021?
My answer to both of these seems to be mutually reinforcing. I feel that I need a "passive" word, one that is gentle and healing. And by the same hand, I need a word that is "inward" facing, that supports me from within. In thinking about these needs, I found my word for 2021—
What a lovely word. "To bring back into existence or use; reestablish." While there is a definition of this word that involves bringing back into a "normal or original" condition, I much prefer the one I provided above. So much of 2020 has dissolved or ruptured or broken—everything from my daily routine to my research plans to the way that I conceptualize myself in the world. I'm hoping to take time this year to heal from within. Whether it is through a daily practice of free writing about my work or taking time before bed to breathe deeply, I plan to do small things each day that will help me in my path toward restoration of self and purpose.
Do you have a word for 2021? Let me know!
What I consume.
Also during my little break last week, I took many walks to downtown Oakland and Chinatown. There were many different reasons for these walks—dog walks, boba tea runs, Christmas day meals, restorative strolls. But the same things always caught my eye during these moments—the murals all around the city.
Like many other cities in the United States, a lot of the businesses in downtown Oakland have their storefronts boarded up. And while it is difficult to see the physical realities of last year's events, there is a small silver lining. Most of the boards have been painted with beautiful murals that reflect the values and priorities of Oakland's many communities. Not only do they showcase the talented work of community artists, but they also reflect the social justice work that still needs to be done.
Here are some pieces that really spoke to me, mostly found on Broadway, Webster and the streets in between. (I also try to link to the artists when I am able.)
Many murals spoke to the history of the movement, but I really loved this one of Angela Davis on the outer limits of the downtown area:
There are also some beautiful murals as you get into the city's center:
The ones that lined the Oakland Tribune's walls are particularly powerful in their specificity. I spent quite some time here:
The murals that spoke to me the most were the ones in Oakland's Chinatown that highlighted the historical solidarities between Black and Asian communities in the Bay Area:
But my favorite had to be the one that carried a personal resonance with me:
Item(s) of note.
This past week, I spent most of my time away from my phone and my computer. So, I don't have any internet items myself to recommend. But, I can direct you to some of Edith Zimmerman's favorite newsletters of the year.
I'll be back next week with some choice links. For now, I'll leave you with the picture I took above above on January 1st, showing a lovely door in Stinson Beach.
We like to call Girlie a "cinnamon roll" when she rests like this. She's tucked in so precisely, and I feel like you can see all the different browns of her fur.
As always, thanks so much for reading through, and I'll see you in the next one!