For two decades now, the building at the corner of 23rd and International avenues in east Oakland has been a community hub for people and organizations with few other places to go.
In a neighborhood that is low-income and majority people of color—flanked to the east by the largely Latino/Hispanic Fruitvale district and to the west by a predominantly Asian population—the building and its adjacent garden have offered sanctuary for long-time residents as well as four people of color-led social justice organizations serving their low-income neighbors.
Cycles of Change and its Bikery Community Bike Shop (pictured, above) offers youth programming, bike repair classes, and road safety training; Sustaining Ourselves Locally (SOL) promotes food justice through community workshops and paid youth internships; Shaolin Life runs a martial arts studio where monks from the Shaolin Monastery in China share centuries old traditions; and Liberating Ourselves Locally (LOL), which recently merged with Peacock Rebellion, features a maker space and uses the arts as a healing force for the queer and trans community. All four organizations regularly collaborate and share space, with the backyard garden serving as a focal point and gathering space for all.
Upstairs, eight residential units have been maintained at rents far below the skyrocketing costs of the rest of Oakland, where the combined pressures of limited housing, a growing tech sector, and increasing wealth and income disparities have caused an affordable housing crisis and the unprecedented displacement of thousands of residents.