Opinion: Black East Oakland and Green Spaces

East Oakland Black Cultural Zone to host “Creek 2 Bay Remix: Burgers + Design” on Sept. 14

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Black folks’ love East Oakland’s naturally green environment almost as much as its ancestral rebel spirit.

But locally and nationally, there is heightened concern about Black culture being unwelcome in outdoor green spaces.

This is another type of displacement Black folks are being subjected to since the boom of market rate developers and other private entities entered Oakland’s economy.

That is one of the reasons the East Oakland Black Cultural Zone is encouraging East Oakland residents to join us for a tour along San Leandro Creek, burgers at the MLK Jr. Regional Shoreline Park and fun activities to design concepts for way-findings (signs) and bridge art reflecting Black culture.

Called the “Creek 2 Bay Remix: Burgers + Design,” the event on Sept. 14 engages Black people in the National Estuary Week and Creek to Bay Day highlighting our bay, creeks, and  estuary.

The Black Cultural Zone is co-host of the event with the Brower-Dellums Institute for Sustainable Policy Study and Action.

Recognizing East Oakland as the ‘Last Frontier’ against gentrification and rapid displacement of Black people from Oakland, the East Oakland Collective and East Oakland Black Cultural Zone Collaborative agree that:

1) Black folks should unapologetically activate green spaces and parks in East Oakland through art, storytelling, education; and

2) There is a need to increase the Black community’s awareness of and support for green space and parks to promote healthier environments and workforce development opportunities accessible to Black residents.

The economic and environmental benefits of local green infrastructure should directly contribute to the transformation of Black communities into healthier, more stable and wealthier communities.

To ensure Black residents’ needs are considered, we need to drive the planning and community engagement processes of upcoming green space and infrastructure development in our communities. A green infrastructure development currently underway is the San Leandro Creek Greenway (SLCG) Project.

About  1.2 miles of this creek runs through the neighborhoods of Sobrante Park and Columbia Gardens, connecting Stonehurst and Brookfield via the concrete corridor of 105th and 98th avenues.

The three main goals of the SLCG Project are to revitalize the San Leandro Creek for public access by adding a trail and park, work with the community to develop stewardship and safety components as an alternative to armed policing, and locally build a portion of the trail amenities using Fab Labs.

One of the gems of deep East Oakland, tucked behind the Oakland Coliseum and I-880 freeway, surrounded by the Oakland International Airport and Alameda, is the beautiful Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline Park, which offers tranquility, jet skiing, biking, fishing, and, of course, barbecuing.

Located by the San Leandro Bay, the park is connected both to the Oakland Estuary and San Leandro Creek. Back in the 1990s, when I enjoyed my yearly family reunions at the grill area near the Shoreline Center, we referred to all those connecting areas as “The Estuary.”

The estuary would fill up with all types of people, in particular, Black people enjoying recreational activities through cultural social gatherings.

Join us at the San Leandro Creek Staging Area, 213 Hegenberger Rd., Oakland, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m on Sept. 14. Spaces are limited!  To

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