Tuesday, June 30, 2009

One Oaklander's Garbage....

We're nearly done packing and cleaning up our house 
as we prepare to move to France in August.  Our renter is moving in this weekend - so the rush has been on.  It's amazing to realize, or to take in, how much junk we've piled up, saved and stockpiled away, just in case....  Of course that case never seem to have come for most of the stuff.

We scheduled a bulky pick-up for tomorrow morning.   We made the appointment weeks ago in order to cash in on our yearly trash-a-rama freebie.  In our packing frenzy, we finished laying out all of the garbage/recycling in the 3 sections as per Waste Management about 10pm.  As I was transporting everything to the sidewalk a man pulled up, stopped exactly in front of our house and asked if we have any metal and what kind we did have.  It's now 12:15am and another van is just leaving.  The couple has been in front of our house, going through everything for the past 45 minutes. I had a nice conversation with them as they scavenged our garbage for un-discovered treasurers.  I wonder how they found us?  Did they get our address from Waste Management? They sure didn't seem to just be cruising the neighborhoods of East Oakland looking for bulky pick-ups.  If they are, they're lucky to have seen our trash heap in the darkness of our block.  Funny how one person's garbage is another person's treasurer.  I keep coming back to the wondering about how we were found.  Does Waste Management distribute a pick-up schedule and map to professional scavengers in advance?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bumper Sticker of the Week

Thanks to Uncle Andrew for the hook-up with this one.
Urban Chickens Are Taking Over Oak-Town

As we finish packing up to move, I've noticed that the item we own most inquired about by friends and neighbors are our five chickens. Rosie, Clementine, Crystal, Snowflake and Isabelle have absolutely no idea how popular they are. They even were requested at our moving\garage sale even when not present!

Increasingly people are seeking (in Oakland and elsewhere) to adopt chickens as pets, egg-producers and garden-enhancers. We got hot on the idea after reading foodie-fun and world-revolutionary-through-daily-action-books such as Omniovre's Dilemma and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. In our neighborhood the chicken owners all know who each other are. The eggs are fantastic: much better than cheaper industrialized pseudo-farming ones. I've noticed a large increase in wildlife attracted to our yard since the girls moved in. Plus the manure|compost is awesome. Rosie, one of our five, actually acts like a dog, running up to me and following me at my heels as I walk around the yard. Here's some pictures of our coop.

Urban chickens are also in the news. Last week a
video segment on NYC coops ran on Nightline, a large article in the Oakland Tribune. There's even an "urban chicken" group on facebook, based off the blog urbanchickens.net. I myself like mypetchicken.com. They take up little space - they actually are content to dig, scratch, dirt-bath and eat - eat - eat - did I say eat? - in appropriately sized urban spaces. I find in the inner East Bay that Mike's Feed in San Leandro has a good array of food, supplies and even coops for sale. Urbanchickens.net posted about a coop made from Ikea products this week, if you're looking for inspiration.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mimosa Champagne Lounge
Uptown @ 2355 Broadway

Every time I go to work out at the YMCA in the past month or so I cross in front of an emerging new hot spot (or so it looks like through the windows) nearing completion in Uptown. Located at 2355 Broadway, at the corner of 24th and Broadway, it seems destined (as I hear through web chatter) to become the Mimosa champagne lounge - when and if it ever opens. The funny thing is that it's all set up on line to be reviewed on yelp, and seems to have been for some time, before even
ever opening. Maybe that's the future of e-construction and publicity these days. Of course if they never actually open the building it leaves a lot to be desired. Here's some pictures that I snapped today. They also have a blog they've been writing to promote the place: mimosachampagnelounge.com

Friday, June 19, 2009

Beating in a Beauty Salon:
I hope that's not the core of the future-orientation of Oakland

I'm slaggin' on my blogging and have been thinking of this latest story to surface in the Dimond Community this past week.  Gone viral on the internet because of the disturbing video [embedded below] shared via Channel 7, the story concerns a beauty salon merchant in the Dimond District beat up in their store during business hours.  [link to blog article on the Channel 7 site].

What is it about violence that seems so impossible to overcome and the continuing crime that seems despairingly to be accepted as part of Oakland culture?  Maybe I'm watching too much of The Wire on netflix.  A friend is in town this week and repeated on a recent drive their surprise about how nice Oakland is, that it's not just crime-infested ghettos ridden with violence and drugs as portrayed in the news.  We were in the Glenview, on the border of the Dimond, in which there is crime like this beating, like the dead man dropped from a car in front of the library in the past month, and deals that I see happening most days along McArthur.

In the face of it all I feel helpless.  What can I do?  What do I do?  Believing through faith, that we're called to overcome evil with good I feel convicted and called, yet all do often unclear about what and how I can be present like that in our neighborhood and shared city.  A recent post on A Better Oakland asks the question "What are the core functions of a city?"  Maybe that's the starting point.  Oaktown has to be about more than hiring more cops, or putting up with crime, or hoping to move up the hill to Montclair.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bumper Sticker of the Week

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Is Oakland Bankrupt?

"no money no honey" was the principal image that came up when I did a google search for images about "no money": is that the future of Oakland? I first heard via neighborhood email groups discussion about this possibility last week. Between the expenses of police staffing and basic city government agencies the city will have supposedly committed more money than it expects to generate. Yikes!

I doubt that the Governator will come down and help us, or allow the city to raid the Sacramento coffers to balance our budget. FORUM did a show on this topic this morning with a well-balanced and wise roundtable. You can listen to it online HERE. A Better Oakland did a blog post on this today as well: "What would bankruptcy mean for Oakland?" There was also an article in yesterday's Chronicle: "Oakland unlikely to file for bankruptcy"
Does anyone know what it all means?

I'm at a young clergy conference in Montreat, N.C. [Alt7] this week. Much dialog happened today about the changing world in which we are living, the future world that is emerging in the midst of our current context. Extrapolated to correlate to the role, purpose and style of the Presbyterian Church (let alone any church) can either be terrifying or exciting - or both - for people such as myself ordained, or called, or committed to working in the church, serving her here and now as pastors. What does it all mean for the future? Rapid change. Unsure futures. A majority of now dominant churches that will die with their members and the disappearance of the decreasing worldviews that they move in. The reality that most clergy positions will not be full-time, or like what we've been used to. In the end I'm left at the end of the day with our position: in times of change we grasp for the familiar, the easy the seemingly replicatable. Yet in change those are the very options that become obsolete, irrelevant and dangerous.

I received this video in an email today, it points out the rapidly changing things about our world asking the question: "does anyone know what it all means?" We all interpret that question according to our context. In wondering what it means for mine I'd have to guess that it means moving beyond what we know and do today, to risk practicing something different - not for different's sake - but with an experimental attitude about how we can address the rapidly changing, continually emerging and bifurcating world of old and familiar with new and untested. Maybe fear is the only option not to put on the table.

Bumper Sticker of the Week

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Bumper Sticker of the Week

Monday, June 01, 2009

Ranting & Raving: Y es Hora!

I learned today about a move for Latinos to boycott the upcoming census [Oak Tribune article: Latino Activists decry Census Boycott].  Some are calling for a boycott, refusing to participate in something that is deemed racist.  Unfortunately it seems to be Christian Clergy advocating this: National Coalition of Latino Clergy & Christian Leaders.

The worst part for me seems to be the continuing perspective, that I can only call radically ignorant and privileged, that "People who have no right to be in this country should not be counted."  What is it about us that encases us into privilege, wanting to protect what we deem as our own rights at the expense of the rights of others, or the worldview that if someone else is counted, represented or protected it necessarily means that we will be losing something, or losing out on our piece of the pie?
Does Christianity breed Violent Murders?
The Death of George Tiller

Shocked as I read the newspaper this morning, learning disturbingly about the horrific murder of Doctor George Tiller gunned down by an anti-abortion activist in the narthex, or entryway of his church.  While he welcomed folks to worship his wife practiced with the choir.  In that experiential moment of hospitality he was either murdered for following his beliefs and acting on his conscience or gunned-down in a justified mercy killing that would save countless unborn fetuses.

Arrested nearly 200 miles from the scene of the crime yesterday, I have to wonder if the person that committed the crime thought it was justifiable by faith, or even the most faithful thing to do as a Christian.  You could argue that following Jesus in a radical way can indeed lead to violence.  Consider the case of Dietrich Bonhoeffer who concluded that it was his "Christian duty" to work actively towards the elimination of Adolf Hitler at any cost and by any means (he died for his faith praxis).  But isn't that different than the case of George Tiller?  I think it actually has nothing to do with Christianity - or at least with the primary essence of the teachings and example of Jesus of Nazareth.

I think it has everything to do with the cultural context in which Christianity, in a particular culturally-adapted form, is practiced.  Jesus preached against violence, retribution and murder.  In fact he preached openly nonviolent resistance: turn the other cheek,  love your enemies.  His are the words that inspired Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr., among countless others.  We seem to have reached a cultural place in which he have to vilify our adversaries, or those with opposite perspectives, beliefs or worldviews, as our enemies.  Think of the equality of marriage debate and struggle.  In the abortion discussion everyone claims to be "pro"-life/rights, in a sense-pro human life and humanity - yet often in the same breath those same dialoguers consider and call the opposition as less than human.  [Great article on this by Time's Nancy Gibbs, "Understanding America's Shift on Abortion" ; a great post on Streets Prophets: Whoever Killed George Tiller Was Not A Christian] Have we lost our way?  Has the church, the community of those that claim to follow Jesus of Nazareth, lost our way trading culture for conviction, reaction for action, demonizing for discipleship?