Pull up a chair and a mug of coffee (or in my case, a green smoothie made with spinach and romaine lettuce, because 2020 is the year I go full green, I guess) and let me tell you a bit more about some of the social and creative movements in Oakland that influence our work here at our (sometimes) humble email marketing agency.
A couple of years ago we quit our previous jobs, put our stuff in storage, fell in deeper love with email marketing, and took off on a long honeymoon to our new home, CodeCrew. As with any good founding story, ours started when an idea, a passion, and immense drive, all serendipitously came together in the form of an Oakland-based business. Passionate about making the world a better place through our skills, we help build an email marketing program for our clients that will be an incredible chance to show the world just how awesome they are.
Our career choices and life benchmarks always lie in the context of social and economic issues. But that's natural. Sometimes you just can't choose the society in which you have to live, but what you can choose is the way of life (and business of course). Different conditions and environments which take place in our social and economic life are what have a certain effect on it, and what gives us a definite choice. We need to take those factors into account. That's why we're going to talk about our city and its influence on our business.
Oakland is a big town. A giant urban cultural mecca that stretches from the coast to redwood-covered rolling hills and oftentimes overlooked by its bigger sibling, San Francisco, his wonderful place has its own history, slang, culture, and it's own social movements. The history of the United States has played out on the streets of Oakland time and time again. And the Oakland we're experiencing today is one that is directly reflective of this exact moment in time.
Social and creative movements in Oakland that influence our work Post Highlights:
- Why does Oakland's history matter?
- Meet Oakland's rich cultural history - the good, the bad, and the…well….You’ll find out
- Meet the Hells Angels
- What about the Black Panthers?
- So what about now?
- Appreciate Oakland's visual arts scene
- Let's build this new movement together
Why does Oakland's history matter?
Unlike our neighbors, San Francisco's Silicon tech boom, and the glittering gold rush, our giant's growth has always been rooted in hard work. Docks. Labor. Factories. Warehouses. Manufacturing and the comparison hold true today. Did you know that Oakland's airport dates back to 1927? At the time, this place was better known as the "Detroit of the West." We've been here a loooong time, y'all! Heck, even Amelia Earhart knew us well.
Cities all have their grit, and even with that Silicon Valley sheen on top and San Francisco’s wild tendencies (have you seen the TL?), Oakland’s grit and character are what truly show the Bay Area that locals know and love. For all of the years that these two major cities have coexisted, side by side, (not even twenty minutes away from one another), they've maintained cooompletely separate identities. San Francisco's identity seems to shift every couple of decades, keeping ahead of the trend of the times: whether it was the Summer of Love, the Gold Rush, or the Tech Boom, it always introduces the next big thing, waiting for the rest of the state to catch up. But not Oakland. As a local saying goes, “you come here for San Francisco, but you stay here for Oakland.”
Meet Oakland's rich cultural history - the good, the bad, and the…well…. You’ll find out.
As you can see, I started this post talking about why Oakland history matters, and I'm definitely going to continue it with a few other ways to dive deeper into that history and some of the social movements that we found interesting. I mean, how can you even appreciate a place and try to build something new without understanding the context of where it actually came from? What makes it so special? What makes this wonderful place the way it is today? It's a prime example of this point and getting to know the many sides of Oakland is supposed to include its past as well as its present.
Meet the Hells Angels
The Hells Angels are a club for motorcyclists founded in California in 1948. They're probably the best known of the so-called outlaw motorcycle gangs. So are the Hells Angels just a fraternity of free-spirited guys who love to ride loud Harleys or a bunch of glorified gangsters on two wheels? Are half of them named Andrei? So these glorified, free-spirited gangsters on loud Harleys' two wheels - the Hells Angels - have proliferated overseas, from their rough-and-tumble beginnings after World War II in California. The question then arises, but how extensively has their motorcycle club grown? Yeah,… Well, it emerged back in 1957 thanks to its infamous leader, Ralph "Sonny" Barger, who has become an international icon in his own right over time, plus a best-selling author.
Every member is so different from each other, except in what they were searching for when they came here — respect, acceptance, and brotherhood. It's like family here. And I don't regret a thing.
Cisco. President of the Oakland chapter.
That is exactly what i would love to hear our people say about our organization here at CodeCrew, but isn't that each organization's main goal, right?
Their philosophy won't ever be mistaken for mainstream - and yet it's struck a fascination and resonance, and that's gone global. To date, over 100 Hells Angels chapters in 29 countries have been sanctioned by the organization.
What about the Black Panthers?
As racial tensions simmered in the mid-'60s, that's exactly the time when the Black Panther Party was founded in Oakland, by two local college students. That was something nobody was trying to hide. The Party's main goal was to protect the unprotected, through community social services, "community survival" (as they would say) programs like health clinics, and free breakfasts for children. Too many years of unreported but frequent police brutality against these unarmed black residents is what stoked the flames for maaany conflicts to come, which is what has attracted the attention of the FBI in a series of COINTELPRO raids.
Here comes the comparison again. Look, while San Francisco's flower children were dreamily Summer of Love-ing all over the place, the youth here in Oakland were forming the Chicanos, the Black Panthers and, declaring that Black is Beautiful. They were also uniting in order to protect Latinos from being drafted into the Vietnam War. While the hippies were returning homes to work for the man, that's when people here, in Oakland, kept fighting.
Their popularity grew as they engaged in many political activities as well as social programs. They attracted widespread support from nothing less than urban centers with large minority communities, including Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago. By 1968, the Black Panthers had roughly over 2,000 members across the land. They did, however, start a number of popular community social programs, including free health clinics in thirteen African American communities across the United States, as well as free breakfast programs for school children. They even installed the stop light just a few blocks away from our office.
And yup, a handful of Black Panthers can still be seen today, running drills up in here. Their work, which is protecting people of color from racial injustice and police brutality, is obviously not finished yet. We’ve come a long way since the start of the party, but unfortunately racial tension almost seems to be a fact of life, as unfortunate as that is. Oakland celebrates its diversity, in large part thanks to the Black Panthers, but the rest of the country (as well as some parts of the Bay Area, unfortunately) are still to follow suit.
So what about now?
Ok. Ok. Calm down. This isn’t a history lesson, and I'm not gonna be speaking about the previous century anymore. So let's jump to some present facts that impact our everyday life and our businesses here in Oakland, shall we? We're talking about the city of 414,000 on the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay. The Town. The decades-long home of the Raiders. The cultural center of this corner of California. It Remains one of America's most ethnically diverse communities: a third of its residents are white, a quarter African American, a quarter Latino, 17 percent Asian. But what about now? Is our home finally experiencing its happily ever after? Well… not exactly. The Tech Boom is what has shifted Oakland, as well as the rest of the Bay Area, to extremes.
The Oakland we see today has two extreme sides: first, there's progress, (CodeCrew) investment, fancy new buildings, huge restaurants, and coffee shops, and so on… and there's that other (not so bright) side. There's a huge spike in displacement, homelessness, and so many folks out there struggling to make ends meet in the town they've lived in for decades.
Oakland’s history is deeply rooted in social justice, and so is its present day. This town today feels like a lightning rod for the social justice movements emerging throughout our state, ready to fight for our collective rights, whether they be gender, racial, or idealistic equality. What's more, you can see it on screen in movies such as Black Panther, Sorry to Bother You (omg the horse scene lol), and Blindspotting (YUP, three Oakland blockbuster movies in 2018 – we were totally having a moment, y'all!). You can also feel it walking through those streets out there, admiring the street art, and tasting local flavors. I'll speak about this a little more in-depth soon - patience young jedi! Oakland offers an examination of a truly important piece of America's history, even as it plays out in real-time.
Appreciate Oakland's visual arts scene
Didn't I just say that I won't be speaking about the previous century anymore? Well excuse me, but I just want you to know this, especially if you want to get a bit better understanding of how these guys here at our email marketing agency are sooo talented and creative. Let me get back to the previous century only once again. I promise this time (fingers crossed). During Oakland's manufacturing heyday between the ages of 1920s and 1940s, Oakland managed to build tons of Art Deco style buildings – the hip, cool, and with-it architecture style of the day.
There are loads of remarkable Art Deco elements throughout our wonderful town, in all of their gorgeous terra cotta mosaic glory. In downtown Oakland we have an astounding visual art scene, and you can see the soul of the city in every work of art around the city, whether it's displayed in a gallery, or scrawled on the side of a building. Oakland loves art, and so do we. As we're creating the most beautiful emails out there, think we can call ourselves true artists, I know you agree.
Buildings here are covered with unique, colorful murals. The streets of Oakland are filled with more than 1,000 murals…and growing, making the city itself a museum. Artists from all over the world come here to fill our enormous canvases, but of course, we personally favor those created by Oaklanders. By that, I mean all these colorful murals and works of art adorn Oakland's buildings, walls, and shopfronts… I mean, like, whether or not you're looking for street art, you're bound to see some.
Let's build this new movement together
Starting a business can be an overwhelming journey, but can also present various challenges. Understanding the different challenges, and careful planning are crucial factors to business success. From the very first day, the CodeCrew started this journey, our vision was clear. We have a heart and soul, and we know that every single business has something astonishing to offer to our wonderful world, and needs an equally amazing crew, in order to achieve their goals, right? Let's build this new movement together.
And even though I've barely scratched the surface of this 'heavy history' of this town, I personally hope that your awareness of those complexities will open your eyes to the beauty, struggle, pain, and vindication of Oakland. For us, this adventure has just begun. What I believe is that true social change is only possible when young folks are provided with supporting conditions that will inspire blazing pathways to alternative, and what's more, sustainable economies. As we're growing our projects and our further mission, CodeCrew aspires to be a part of this wonderful town's history. Our work is rooted in community building, and we are paving the right way forward for a more creative, peaceful, equitable, and sustainable world.