Op-Eds

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Another Perspective on Oakland’s Public Art Ordinance

Recently, the Community Rejuvenation Project (CRP) addressed Oakland’s controversial public art ordinance, analyzing the implications of a since-withdrawn staff report (a copy is here) outlining proposed changes, as well as some background on the history of the ordinance itself. While the staff report’s small changes to clarify language and buttress the ordinance against lawsuits seemed reasonable, […]

Is the city making a mistake by refusing to consider altenratives to its public art ordinance at this time?.

Revis(it)ing Oakland’s Controversial Public Art Ordinance

Recently, Oakland city staff proposed revisions to the controversial Percent for Art ordinance , which will be discussed at a March 14th  Community & Economic Development subcommittee meeting, a preliminary step before a full City Council hearing. Most of the changes are minor, intended to clarify fuzzy language in the ordinance. But one proposed revision is […]

Developers: Public Art “Something That’s Not Really Needed”

Oakland’s cultural shift is real, it’s happening right now, and its impacts could be devastating from a long-term perspective – unless there is a strong, concerted effort from both the cultural community and the larger community to organize around anti-displacement and cultural resiliency efforts. That’s the short version; the longer version goes something like this: […]

This may seem obvious, but arts districts should feature art.

Cultural Resilience, Community Engagement, and Addressing Displacement from an Equity Standpoint

In the wake of the recent completion of the mural dedicated to murdered painter Antonio Ramos and Soul of Oakland and OCNC rallies to defend Oakland’s culture, CRP painted the outside walls of community organization Qilombo as part of an anti-gentrification rally. Most of the massive wall, which features portraits of Assata Shakur,Thomas Sankara, and Amed […]

Where where the artists at the DOSP meeting?

Big Ideas for Oakland’s Downtown Mostly Exclude Artists (Op/Ed)

Retaining the character, flavor and cultural identity of Oakland should be a Big Idea. But in an urban planning process which appears to be completely run by developers and consultants, apparently with the blessing of the pro-development administration of Mayor Libby Schaff, broadly diverse voices of the artistic and creative community may have been all […]

Detail from Alice St. Mural honors Oakland's indigenous Ohlone people

Developers Vs. Art (Op/Ed)

  This past July, the Building Industry Association of the Bay Area (BIA) – a developer’s club, whose members includes realtors, construction companies, mortgage lenders, and building manufacturers—joined forces with conservative legal activists Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) to challenge a recent Oakland public art ordinance. The PLF filed a lawsuit on the BIA’s behalf in […]

CRP's Afrikatown mural was part of an extensive community beautification effort

Rethinking the Abatement Industrial Complex from a Public Art Policy Framework

Since its founding in 2007, the Community Rejuvenation Project has sought to transform communities with holistic, vibrant, and uplifting murals which engage and inspire viewers. A large part of our work, however, has been overcoming negative perceptions of street art, which is often linked to vandalism and youth crime. We have also seen the need […]

"Graffiti Cove," an unsupervised free wall, is a chaotic jumble of disorderly tags

Ken Houston and the Fallacy of the Abatement-Industrial Complex

Fourteen months ago, in January 2014, self-proclaimed “community advocate” and wanna-be Oakland Mayoral candidate Ken Houston addressed a roomful of business owners, mass transit corporate executives, high-ranking police officers, journalists and a sprinkling of local and state elected officials or their representatives, invited on behalf of the East Oakland Beautification Council, a community initiative developed under […]

The Alice St Mural replaced a wall blighted by taggers

Oakland Tribune Reports: City Council Has Only Spent a Fraction of Abatement Mural Allotment

  As CRP previously reported , Councilmember Desley Brooks (D6) is on record as telling KPFA’s Davey D, “Neighborhoods in West Oakland and East Oakland need to have public art.” Yet in an Oakland Tribune article published on Sunday, April 26, it was revealed that Brooks and her fellow Councilmembers have dragged their feet in allocating […]

This D6 wall shows that repeated buffing has proved an ineffective method of abatement.

Why Are Representatives of Oakland’s Blight-Challenged Districts Reluctant to Commission Abatement Murals?

On March 18, District 6 Councilmember Desley Brooks told Hard Knock Radio’s Davey-D, “Neighborhoods in West Oakland and East Oakland need to have public art.” The Community Rejuvenation Project (CRP) couldn’t agree more. In fact, as part of the Oakland Community Art Coalition, our efforts in 2012 led to the creation of a $400,000 budget […]

The 17th St. BART gateway reportedly cost $600,000.

The Privatization of Public Art

Last November, then-Councilmember Libby Schaff proposed a new ordinance which required a percentage of new development–.5% for residential property, and 1% for private development—for “public art.” The ordinance further codified an existing public art program, which provides 1.5% of capital improvement projects to “commission and acquire public art.”  Yet while the existing public art fund […]

The Completed Composting Mural for StopWaste.org

Ready Set Recycle! Win Prizes While Learning About Food Scrap Recycling

And now a PSA from our partner, StopWaste.org: Where do you put your leftover food scraps from dinner? Or how about that greasy pizza box? Put your knowledge to the test at ReadySetRecycle.org and you could win prizes. The Ready Set Recycle website offers prizes for entering the Recycling Rewards Challenge and provides recycling tips […]

graffitiremoval

It’s Time to Rethink Graffiti Abatement Strategies

The answer to the graffiti problem isn’t throwing money down the abatement black hole or instituting stricter zero-tolerance policies. Any viable solution must revolve around the creation of sound, forward-thinking policy which avoids knee-jerk reactionism and repeating mistakes which have been made in the past. San Jose’s example shows that permanent reductions in graffiti vandalism through zero tolerance measures aren’t sustainable, and that with current abatement strategies, sometimes you get less than you pay for.

A vandalized Zero Graffiti Conference Poster. Evidence of a serious need or ineffectiveness? $17 Billion is spent annually on graffiti abatement. Bad news for property owners. Good news for the industry.

The Zero Graffiti International Conference: At Odds with Long Term Solutions?

The First Annual Zero Graffiti International Conference was held in San Francisco last week. Hundreds of police officers, public works officials, “graffiti” consultants, and industry reps from 52 cities gathered as the industry that has grown up around abatement announced that it had made $17 billion in profit in the United State alone.  Despite the […]

Bratton, Broken Windows and the Anti-Graffiti Ordinance

What’s perhaps most problematic about both Oakland’s hiring of Bill Bratton and its anti-graffiti ordinance is that they represent a shift in city politics toward tough-on-crime rhetoric as opposed to identifying and pursuing holistic solutions, which could have more beneficial long-term impact.

CRP Statement on Oakland’s Proposed Anti-Graffiti Ordinance

On November 2—just four days before the election—City Attorney Barbara Parker and Councilmember Nancy Nadel released a proposed amendment to Oakland’s municipal code which targeted graffiti vandals. Under the proposed ordinance— whose impetus reportedly came as a result of “Occupy”-style protests—graffiti would be classified a “public nuisance” and offenders charged with misdemeanors, rather than citations. […]

Gardena and the Inflatable Felony

This is the first of a three part series by the Community Rejuvenation Project on the perpetual criminalization of aerosol culture, the abatement industry and the politics of incarceration. We begin with the problematic issue of “charge stacking,” which occurs when a prosecutor increases the severity of a charge or adds additional charges to an […]

Street Art vs. Gang Injunctions

This is the third in a three part series by the Community Rejuvenation Project on the perpetual criminalization of aerosol culture, the abatement industry and the politics of incarceration. In the last two articles, we address the inflated penalties and intense criminalization of the aerosol movement. This is further demonstrated in the article below. MTA […]

Los Angeles’ War on Aerosol Writers

This is the second of a three part series by the Community Rejuvenation Project on the perpetual criminalization of aerosol culture, the abatement industry and the politics of incarceration.  In the first article, we addressed the methods that law enforcement uses to inflate vandalism charges, pressure them into plea bargains and then cash in with exorbitant […]

Smoke from the latest explosion at the Chevron Refinery in Richmond seeps into the atmosphere causing health issues and destroying crops.

Richmond Refinery Fire Spotlights Need for Increased Environmental Awareness

For Immediate Release – August 14, 2012 (Richmond, CA) For the past few weeks, the Community Rejuvenation Project has been hard at work at the Greenway in Richmond, part of a collaborative effort with Urban Tilth and the City of Richmond. In addition to the planting of new gardens and the creation of artcrafted benches, […]

Land Rights, Foreclosures, and Blight

CRP artists worked for several days on a mural upholding people’s land rights which drew a connection between the national foreclosure crisis and gentrification already beginning to creep through West Oakland.

Despite the notice, the city hasn't gotten the message. Photo by Eric Arnold.

Blight Reduction in Oakland

Blight in and of itself is bad enough. But longstanding problems surrounding the city’s much-maligned Building Services department—which include a noncompetitive bidding process for city contracts, exorbitant fees charged to property owners, and little to no community oversight or involvement in the process—only make matters worse.

These tags didn't make any statement and put the community at risk. (Photo by Eric Arnold)

Graffiti, Aerosol Writing and Occupy Oakland

Last Wednesday’s violent disruption by a small contingent of Black Bloc anarchists after Oakland’s successful General Strike ended has brought to the forefront the role of vandalism and property damage in this otherwise-peaceful movement.

Murals help maintain the legacy of a neighborhood and remind of its history.

Why Murals Beats the Buff

Despite graffiti’s noble origins in rebellion and its evolution into elaborate calligraphy which has set the trends in art and culture for four decades, the mainstream view is that graffiti tagging — the root signatures from this movement — represents an eyesore.

"Peace" and "Dignity" by Mike 360 and Desi W.O.M.E, detail from the Robots and Butterflies mural commissioned by the Richmond Arts and Culture Commission

Rethinking the Role of the Aerosol Writing in the Community

A threat to community’s artists’ ability to create public works is looming, one which maybe drowned out in the congratulatory cheers, now that the immediate wrong has been righted.

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