Friday, July 31, 2009
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Representing the strange luster & oddball spirit that is East Bay Life.
It appears that Oakland pride is quite contagious! It's nice to see the proliferation of different Oakland T-shirt designs currently hitting the racks. But as you know, our roots run way deeper than any screen-print could ever convey. The true purpose here is to creatively promote our enduring love for "original Oakland charm" in the face of a constantly mutating culture, population and landscape. When you rock the roots, you evoke all the hidden history & rebel spirit of The Town, in its many incarnations. This way successive generations of young Oaklanders can gain a deeper understanding of the place they call home. Thanks for helping to spread the local love.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
OK, actually it's called Westminster Woods. Our youngest daughter E can't pronounce the full name, so she calls it "Mister Woods." It's a Presbyterian owned and operated camp and conference center just outside of Occidental, near Sebastopol in God's country aka West Sonoma County. We went as a church group last week to several simultaneous camps. Matt Prinz and I spoke together at the Central, or Junior High, Camp. It's a sacred space for me because it's where I met Kristy, discovered most of my deepest friendships in life, discovered who I am, claimed my gifts and first deeply encountered the integrative experience of living faith and living in community. No matter when I go: simply to swim for the afternoon, to attend a campfire, or to spend the week - it is a place of rejuvenation, rest, renewal - resurrection for me. As E says, "it's the best place in the world - there are so many trees and so much shade!!!!" I think chillin' with Chillie Willie at the Craft Shack always entices too.
Here's a slideshow of our week together there last week.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Thursday, July 09, 2009
Folks have been wondering where my family and I are in our journey of moving from Oakland, to France, specifically to the town of Poissy where I'll be pastor of that parish of the French Reformed Church. We have moved out of our home in Oakland and this next Sunday, July 12th will be my last one as pastor of the Oakland church I serve: Fruitvale Presbyterian.
We are at summer camp this week with a group of youth from our church. We return for a week of work in Oakland, then have a month off before moving to France on August 17th. That time will be filled with house sitting in the Dimond District, hanging out with friends, graduation day at our preschool and then 2 action-packed hang-out weeks with the grandparents. While at camp this week, a prize was given to the camper that came from the farthest distance to camp. Our eldest won, as she said that she soon will live in France. When asked where she lives, she replied "I don't really have a house." Not quite homeless, but definitely a sojourner. Of course she can't understand that. Maybe that's part of the whole journey of living and growing cross-culturally? Recognizing that we don't necessarily have a home, but rather several homes in between which we move. I find that California is by far home, and Oakland seems to be it for me, and at the same time that are many other places that are home for me in California: Fair Oaks, Westminster Woods, Cloverdale; and also in France: St. Germain-en-Laye, Strasbourg and Montelimar. Poissy will become our new home. But what does that mean for our children: 7 and 4 years old, who have only known Oakland as home?
I awake most days thinking of them, praying for them in the changes and transitions that await us: those of which we're aware and those of which we have no idea. How will they be transformed by the experience? I have some cultural cues and suspicions, having done that jounrney myself, yet what does it mean or a 4 year old to learn another language? What will it mean for those two to begin school in 8 weeks in a local public French school in a different language, culture and with all new people? It seems overwhelming. It sure was for me when I did that at the Universite de Grenoble in college. Yet maybe overwhelming is what is actually unavoidable in our world today? We're overwhelmed each day with the amount of knowledge and information we have to sift through and the decisions and choices we have to make in daily life. Maybe embracing the emotional overwhelmed-ness of living cross-cutlurally moves us along the path of maturation in a post-modern, globalized and flattened world? I wonder if we are either providing our children with the best possible educating and growth opportunity in childhood through this experience, or directing them towards a great challenge. I suspect it's both and more of an opportunity in the long-run than a nearly-impossible-to-overcome challenge. I guess only time will tell as well as our commitment to walk with and to carry our children through this time of transition that will last not just for a few weeks but for quite possibly a few months.
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Sunday, July 05, 2009
Friday, July 03, 2009
In the midst of what would seem hopeless, the neighbors of the hood are taking the park back, re-organizing for the past year to transform the park into a place with more light through tree removal (to chase off the trouble-making elements), better visiblity, increased acitivity opportunity for families/kids, and beautification through public art and landscaping. The project reminds me of the beautiful mural made in the Dimond recently near 7-11 at the corner of Champion and MacArthur.
The past 3 weeks have seen a transformation of the dominant (and most tagged) wall of the park restrooms. Neighbors raised the money, found the supplies, wrote the grants and did the work to transform this blank institutional-green wall into a massive mosaic depicting the park and the purpose of that public space. Krista Keim, a neighborhood resident and mosaic-er extraordinaire helped shepherd the project. Here's a [link] to her page and past work as well as some photos that I took on a recent weekday morning while Krista and the crew finished work begun on the weekend. Kudos to the Maxwell Park Neighborhood Council and all those helping to organize and improve our life together through public art, community organizing and community work days!
I received a link to the run-off E-election for the Best of the East Bay - in nearly every category - at East Bay Express. Loads of local haunts, shops and jaunts are on the list: in particular several of my favorite businesses and business people in the Dimond District. Voting closes on Sunday, July 5th. So you still have time to make your voice heard [poll link here: you have to answer at least 26 of the 100 or so questions...can take as little as 5 minutes].
Thursday, July 02, 2009
I snuck into the office early this morning to grab a few things and to check on a room set-up before my house and the neighborhood woke up. The only person out on MacArthur Blvd. was this public works guy who was painting the new bike lane on the street in front of the church. I paused for a moment, taking in his perseverance. He followed a traced line, with his head down to make sure he stayed between the lines, and occasionally looking up to ensure he knew where he was going. I was struck by the simplicity of the scene and the deep existential challenge/truth that it holds for us that call Oakland home, or who live in urban zones.
It's so easy to give up, to get negative, to get apathetic and to eventually become pathetic - a constant pessimist, low-expectation-holder, someone who retreats into themselves in order to self-protect, self-medicate or self-dedicate. In reading the paper this morning I was inundated with hopelessness: deaths, destruction, a family swept out to sea and then [this] about the current and unavoidable future budget implosion in Oakland. It's so easy to give up, or to want to avoid. I ran into the resident street philosopher of my hood - Corn Dog, aka Crazy57Bus - who in our musings asked why people want to avoid or deny that there is danger and destruction out there? How come we don't talk about murders in our neighborhood - not in the intent to dwell on them - but to ensure, encourage and challenge each other to be safe and to be radical in our mutual solidarity? C57B brought up that we jump on people as 'negative' when in fact they're simply stating the obvious - that we shouldn't forget and that we should look through and past. It's a lot like that street painter...focused on the little lines in front of him, with his head down - but he knows where he's going - that there is a bigger picture - a wider perspective and goal then simply painting a line.
I'm preparing a sermon for Sunday on radical discipleship in Mark 6:1-13 - in fact Jesus seems to tell his listeners who follow him to expect rejection. Hmmm. Maybe Martin Luther King Jr. said it best: "Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."