Written by Quinn Delaney
Although it is already February, it still feels like the beginning of the year. 2016 is already proving to be a year of anticipation, full of anxiety and full of promise. And I’m not even talking about the elections!
This will be an important year for Oakland. It feels like Oakland is at a crossroads and this is the tipping point year. It’s promising to see the exciting growth happening in Oakland: the restaurant scene is being touted as the next big foodie haven and businesses in many sectors are flocking to our city. We are the home of the new economy. Oakland is a happening place!
But many of us already knew that. With rapid change comes great responsibility. The challenge facing Oakland is how it honors and preserves what is best about Oakland, its people, its culture, its radical history and its diversity, in the face of the influx of new businesses and new residents.
This is a challenge for us all, and one being pursued by the Mayor, the private sector, philanthropy, nonprofits and community members. It will take all of us working on this conundrum to craft and implement solutions that advance racial equity in Oakland.
We are proud to be working with community organizations that play a role in crafting solutions that remind us all to heed the racial impact of any plan. As an organization dedicated to racial justice, we are very aware of both the opportunities and the challenges presented at a time like this, of rapid growth and pressure from market forces. It is in times like this that we must be very sensitive to the impact of local and national policies. We must be vigilant that we clearly and strongly assert the needs of people of color and lower income folks so that they are not forced to leave our city. Oakland is walking a delicate line, as we balance the opportunities of our new growth with the existing culture of the city. We welcome new businesses and new residents, but we don’t want to lose our current and longstanding residents to high rents or the lack of economic opportunities that allows them to thrive.
With so many gifted leaders and community members working on this, I am hopeful that Oakland will develop policies that can maintain and grow the beautiful culture and diversity that is Oakland.
Part of what makes me hopeful is the great work of the team at Akonadi. We are excited about the work that is ahead in 2016 to advance our mission of supporting racial justice movement building in Oakland. We have launched a new website, which I hope you will visit. We are welcoming a new team member, Sheena Johnson, and we are looking forward to adding an additional member to our staff in the coming months.
I hope you join us in being hopeful about Oakland and working to create a racially just city for all of us.
President, Akonadi Foundation