i once heard that you can’t spell alameda without the word “lame.” so true, on so many levels, but i’ve also been pleasantly surprised meeting some cool folks on this island in the bay and visiting an interesting organization.

i’ve spent most of my past three weeks here on this island, just 5 minutes from oakland and 20 from san francisco. my mother lives in a small apartment across the street from the beach (bay water, nice and warm and not so clean but still swimmable). i’ve been helping her with a range of thing while here, and we’ve also ventured around the island, most recently visiting the Alameda Point Collaborative.

APC provides housing for formerly homeless individuals and families, job training in their Plough Shares nursery (which focuses on California native, drought resistant, and edible plants), youth jobs on their farm, a bike collective and some other programs. This video is a short tour of their farm.

I have a video interview with Jocelyn who works at APC’s Plough Share’s Nursery, but right now youtube doesn’t like it. i’ll try to post it soon.

The organization provides housing (only 2 years unless you have permanent health requirements) for formerly homeless families and individuals. during this time there are yearly drug tests. the spots are limited, and the organization uses a lottery system to allocate the houses to qualified applicants – leaving many without shelter (a hard fact to overcome since the bay area has something like 10,000 homeless folks). once living in APC there are a few job training opportunities….but not many. and the organization relies on grants, government money, and corporate sponsors.  all of this made me feel uneasy, eventhough there are some cool things going on.  the land in use was under the control of the Navy – so in that way it is a pretty cool reclaiming. however, lots of buildings still stand unoccupied and the area is somewhat remotely located, making transportation and necessities harder to get for residents. my mother has a serious green thumb and is interested in volunteering at the Plough Shares nursery (which focuses on california native, drought resistant, edible plants) when she gets back from mexico in september.

i think this could be a good fit for my mom to do some volunteering. but not me so much. the top-down/charity structure is not so appealing and this island has a way of making me feel lethargic (maybe because it is like a time warp to the 50s with all the kitchy shops and such). if/when i come back, definitely want to live in oakland, possibly doing an urban farming internship with People’s Grocery. you read my next post to find out more about them!


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