Part of the mural on the Lowell and Stanford building
Neighbors around the Stanford/Lowell part of Oakland's Golden Gate neighborhood are feeling pretty happy these days, thanks to new projects by two local social justice nonprofits - Phat Beets Collective and Planting Justice.
What happened to spread so much joy in an area that's been plagued with break-ins in recent months? Neighborhood beautification, of course!
First, there's the gorgeous new median on Lowell Street, where a strip in front of a blighted house was transformed suddenly into a lovely garden with fruit trees, flowers and shrubs. Neighbors were initially puzzled as to who transformed this space, then discovered it was local residents Gavin Raders and Haleh Zandi from Planting Justice, a permaculture nonprofit that plants urban gardens.
"We had Transform Your Yard crew and they were free that day, and it seemed like a good thing to do," Raders said.
The community is so thrilled that one of the local residents has organized an online calendar to schedule waterings and maintenance for the spot and everyone is overjoyed at the change.
In addition, Phat Beets Produce Collective has signed a lease on a building with a kitchen and some outdoor space at Lowell and Stanford. The Community Rejuvenation Project has been out painting the building with bright murals and construction is happening inside to make it more useful.
According to Max Cadji, a member of Phat Beets Collective, the space is going to be used for a mix of classes, holding a farmer's market, operating a cafe or a pop-up cafe and perhaps doing some bike/arts/media work, as well. Construction has just started; Cadji said he expects it will be three months until the space fully opens, but the collective is meeting there regularly to plan next steps.