The Downtown Oakland Specific Plan Team had the pleasure of facilitating a series of interviews with Oaklanders about their visions for an equitable downtown Oakland.

Community members and leaders were asked the following questions in this EQTDTO video series:

  1. What does Oakland mean to you?

  2. What are your thoughts on what is going on in downtown Oakland right now?

  3. What is your vision of the future of downtown? And how could downtown better serve you?

  4. When you think of “equity in Oakland,” what comes to mind?

  5. What changes would you suggest to improve social, racial and economic equity in Downtown Oakland?

We are listening to your visions for a future  Downtown Oakland that is equitable
for all...


Nicho Medina of SoleSpace | CultureStrike shares his thoughts...

What does Oakland mean to you?

To me Oakland has been a space where I have been able to do my activism, where I’ve met a lot of artists and met a lot of amazing people that are very community driven, which is something that I was doing back when I was living in Chicago so it’s really inspiring to be able to be working in the arts and also just meeting all the artists that live here in Oakland and activists.

What are your thoughts on what is going on in Downtown Oakland right now?

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I mean, I definitely see a big connection with just how many nonprofits for example are in this area. Also all the galleries and all the community events spaces are kind of all interconnected and I think with us at work in these spaces, we have met each other and we’ve created like a network of folks so… I mean aside from that and homelessness, I mean there are like drug problems, but I think that when the City of Oakland is talking about equity, right, and me coming from a gentrified community, like I go back to Chicago I don’t recognize my neighborhood anymore. That’s how… and this is in the past 5 years. So you know like young people’s voices are not being heard and you know, I think when they want to talk about planning what the city’s going to look like even in for the next 10, 15 years and you don’t have young people involved in this process you know like, how are we building more community leaders. And as people who are working within organizations, or that work with other young people like, it’s our job to let them know what’s going on and also empower them by letting them know that they have access to these spaces so they can also create and feel like they have a voice even if it’s just gathering a few groups… young folks in here you know.

What is your vision of the future of downtown? And how could downtown better serve you?

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Like for example young people benefit right, from having spaces like SoleSpace available to them, or like open for them. I think that we all benefit, right, and I think that’s what community is about and what we’re seeing is that there is something happening right in Downtown Oakland where the people who have been living here are not being heard, you know, and so it’s just uh… it’s catered to the, you know, techies coming in, catered mostly to white folks, but from what I see there’s a lot of young people in this area. So I think that for me to feel like it is benefitting me, it’s by seeing these young people thrive what they call their neighborhood, which is this area.

When you think of “Equity in Oakland,” what comes to mind?

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I mean, aside from equality, right, or like equity I feel like it can be a lot right? We talk a lot about what does equity mean in the art world, right, because it’s mostly white, and then also we talk about you know, equity I come from a gentrified community. In a place where like, you know the congress people came in and to this day you know, they’re not catering to the community so what the community was, no longer is. You know, they still have those principles where you know they talk about different things, but I think if we talk about equity when it comes to gentrification, it’s having everyone voice their opinion, but I think it’s really important to have young people voice their opinion as well. And I happen to believe that young people are the voice of the future and so therefore, how are we motivating these young people to thrive in their community, right, by creating spaces or art shows, or spaces for them to gather and… just you know, spreading the word.

What changes would you suggest to improve social, racial, and economic equity in downtown Oakland?

I mean it’s definitely that’s a lot to ask [laughter], for but we got to start somewhere, right? And I do believe it’s going to start with young people voicing their opinions having them be involved in this process and you know they go, they have friends, they talk to their parents and I think that’s how when we talk about creating, you know voices for young people, I think this is like a good opportunity because Oakland is thriving in the arts. You know and I think that if that’s how Downtown Oakland thrives, and I’ve seen First Friday, how many young people come into this space, you know it’s just giving them a voice and trying to figure out I guess, where to begin, right? And it’s by having these conversations.


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Thank you to Nicho of SoleSpace | CultureStrike for sharing his time and brilliance with us!