Living and visiting Temescal is like visiting a different city other than Oakland. Most of north Oakland is like that, a vast contrast from the Oakland that is talked about in the mainstream news. Much of the coverage is negative, highlighting violence in East or West Oakland. Let’s not forget about Occupy Oakland and the clashes with police and anarchist that destroyed downtown, plus Mayor Quan’s response to that ordeal.
All that news is important, but for a city with such ranging cultures, ethnically and socially, Temescal is a gem. It is a world of it’s own! A microcosm as, Joe Mintz called it. There is such much going on within its few little blocks. A great deal of that action is positive and bridging the community together. Whether it is Art Hop showcasing local artistic talent or organic-minded businesses that are mindful of the planet, it is community oriented. It may be the active members of the Bicycle Coalition or Neighborhood Watch groups keeping pedestrians and residents safe. It may be the tasty treats served along Telegraph Avenue or just the pleasant smiles by passers-by.
Somehow these Temescal residents have blended well together in their neighborhood. The diverse cultures and socio-economic levels have embraced each other. The business corridor is booming with vibrant shops and restaurants serving up delectable dishes.
Don’t be fooled—this is not Berkeley, although it is very close. It may have originally started off as a connector between Oakland and Berkeley, but it is a haven in itself now.
What strikes me most is the art scene and sense of community. No matter who I spoke to, they were sure to mention their appreciation of the art community and the diversity of the neighborhood. That is a far cry from a decade ago.
Gentrification is hard on many. Long-time locals are skeptical of newcomers’ intentions. New arrivals are trying to find the good in their chosen area. Redevelopment can be positive, like in Temescal, when locals support each other. One sure way to keep the neighborhood revitalized is by patronizing it.
Even in the current recession, Temescal businesses have flourished. Ground is being broke on new ventures in the area. That is promising.
No, Temescal is not crime or tension free, but it has gotten MUCH better in the past few years. The new recession has brought a rise to burglaries and robberies. Residents and business owners are keeping watch though.
I enjoy this neighborhood very much and feel lucky to live within biking distance. I, like the locals must feel, enjoy a shop-owner greeting me by name or striking up a conversation as if we’re old friends.
No need to look for the one business or landmark that screams out Temescal. The beauty of this community is in it’s eclectic mix. Each person and shop brings something to the neighborhood that wasn’t there before and adds a piece to the puzzle. The mix of Eritrean, African American, Korean, Ethiopian and white-American residents all have pride in their cultural roots by sharing with others.
If you decide to visit, you may see me at Arbor Café sipping drip-coffee or grabbing brunch at Aunt Mary’s Café before perusing the art galleries. I recommend you come during the day for shopping and stay through the night for partying!
As the natives would say, “I hella love Oakland!”