Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Oakland Pride Swag Bag

At last, an inaugural blog post about the public school fundraising project that started #sweetonoakland! I recently put together an "Oakland Pride" gift basket for my son's school to auction off at their annual fundraiser this past weekend. I thought it would make a good blog post for one of my other blogs, but those blogs aren't location-specific. I wondered if I could create a niche side-project around a phrase I've been using a lot lately - finally, after more than 17 years here - "sweet on Oakland".

Let me give you a little background information. I moved to Oakland in 1998, after about ten months in a cramped, overpriced apartment in north Berkeley. I don't really count the first place I lived, technically in Oakland, off Dana Street right on the Oakland/Berkeley border. But in 1999, I moved to the little Adams Point triangle in the Lake Merritt neighborhood, where I could walk to my part-time job in the uptown area and take the 51A AC Transit bus to Berkeley for my college classes.

I loved it. I could walk about 15 minutes down the hill in any direction to get to Piedmont, BART, the lake, or the Grand Lake area. We (my then-boyfriend, now-husband) rented a one-bedroom apartment in a small building with a pool for $795 per month and rent increased only nominally from there. We moved two more times within the Adams Point area before eventually moving to Boston for grad school and the birth of our first child. After four years there we returned to Oakland, eventually buying a house in the Laurel district.

Oakland is a complicated city. There are some things I don't like about living here, but the pros usually outweigh the cons and, itchy feet though I have, it's the only place I've felt close to calling home. This project is a shared effort to focus on the positive and highlight the things I really dig about this, in the end, pretty irresistible town.

Much of what I included in this "Oakland Pride Swag Bag", as we eventually called it, I purchased in the Laurel and Dimond districts. Here's what I included:

1. Okay, this one is cheating a little, with Chocolate Fusion, out of San Leandro. But pretty close, right? We love our East Bay neighbors, after all...

2. A tote bag and stickers from Oaklandish - a staple stop in any Oakland-centric shopping trip.

3. A set of diner-style coffee mugs from Oaklandish, specifically from the Dimond store.

4. Coffee beans from Cafe Santana Roasting Company, which recently opened a storefront in the Laurel. Great coffee, super-friendly customer service - highly recommend.

5. A copy of the This is Oakland book, available at Oaklandish stores.

6. A gift card to Peter's Kettle Corn, another relatively recent (a year or so ago?) addition to the Laurel.

7. A gift card to Homeroom, which has been in the Temescal neighborhood of Oakland since 2011. I took my son there during their opening week and we've been big fans ever since. In addition to delicious mac 'n' cheese, they make these heavenly, homemade "oreo" cookies. Drool.

8. A bottle of Rock Wall Wine - another technically East Bay pride point as these guys are in Alameda.

9. A set of Oaklandish playing cards.

10. A bar of Handbrewed Soap.

There you have it - 10 great ideas for shopping local this holiday season if you live here in Oakland. Share your hot Oakland tips on social media using the hashtag #sweetonoakland! If you're on Twitter or Instagram, you can follow along there, too!