If you are wondering where all the Oakland families are hanging out, look no further. Have a look at Oakland's first-ever map of family friendly places. This map includes places for families - including parents, children, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and more - to explore, play, read, learn and shop. Also included are youth and family-serving organizations and even a few yummy places that people of all ages can enjoy.
There are no shortage of examples of artistic parents who are working to keep Oakland creative. Here are just a few examples:
Great news!! Out of 1,000 applications, we were selected as one of 50 winners in the KaBoom's Play Everywhere Challenge. With the award funding we receive, Family Friendly Oakland - along with our partner Keep Oakland Beautiful - will create opportunities for kids and families to overcome boredom and blight by installing playful and engaging ceramic tile mosaics as part of the City's Adopt-A-Spot program. We will complete 10 city trash cans at bus stops and busy street corners in Oakland where low-income children and caregivers often wait...and wait. Yawn!
We were selected as a finalist for the KaBOOM Play Everywhere Challenge
Together, we can bring Play Everywhere to Oakland
We were lucky enough to be selected as one of 200 finalists in the KaBOOM Play Everywhere Challenge, a $1 million, national competition to award out-of-the-box ways to make play easy, available, and fun for kids and families—especially for those who lack access to safe, stimulating places today. We’ve got big ideas to spark kids’ imaginations and get their bodies moving here in Oakland, and we’re working hard to win the funds to make them happen. But we can dream ever bigger with your help.
What does it mean to bring Play Everywhere to Oakland?
Science and common sense agree: kids need play to grow up healthy, resilient and ready for life. Evidence shows missing out on the chance to play puts kids at risk for challenges ranging from obesity to anxiety to trouble adjusting in school. Here in Oakland, like the rest of the country, not all kids have the same access to places where they can engage in safe, creative activity. That status quo isn’t the right answer for Oakland. Play is just too important to our kids’ healthy development for anyone to be left out.
Earlier this spring, Family Friendly Oakland got together with Keep Oakland Beautiful and local artists to dream up fun and artistic ways to bring play into the lives of Oakland’s children—especially for those who need it most—because we know that’s key to making our community a great place to grow up. We want to overcome boredom and blight by installing ten playful and engaging mosaics on city trash cans at busy bus stops and intersections in Oakland where low-income children and caregivers often wait…and wait. Our trash cans are everywhere, but are mundane, ugly and easy targets for graffiti. By adding color, art & whimsy we’ll encourage engagement, conversation and wonder, and provide fun “PLAYces” for kids and adults.
Our PlayEverywhere Trashcan Mosaic project was selected as a finalist out of over 1,000 applications nationwide; if we’re named as one of the 50 winners this fall, we’ll start our project in September!
How can you get involved?
We know more places to play builds better bonds—among kids, neighbors, and communities—and those relationships are the foundation for communities that thrive. Our proposal to create more playful public art on trashcans around town is a modest but mighty boost to make our city more welcoming. If we’re selected as a winner, we hope it will be just the beginning of a larger effort to make play a way of life in everyday and unexpected places – sidewalks, vacant lots, bus stops, open streets.
With more local investment and support, we can make this vision a reality—and take it to new heights. Contact us to learn more about our idea to turn everyday spaces in PLAYces here in Oakland.
An open letter printed in the East Bay Express
Like many Oaklanders, I've been engaged in a lot of discussions lately about what our downtown should look like in the future. I've heard a growing desire among locals to keep it creative, homegrown, equitable, and affordable, and I've read plenty of recommendations to make it more developer-, transit-, and business-friendly. I agree with most of these principles, but if we're truly going to have a downtown for everyone, I believe we must also make downtown Oakland more family-friendly.
Last fall, the City of Oakland, Ca. launched a planning process to shape the future of its downtown. SPUR, a regional planning nonprofit, published a report titled, A Downtown for Everyone: Shaping the Future of Downtown Oakland. In it, the authors lay out bold recommendations focused on making Downtown more developer, transit, and business friendly.
As I read the report, one oversight really hit a nerve: there is nary a reference to making downtown more family friendly. In the report, the words “business,” “companies,” or “office” are used over 200 times. In contrast, “families,” “family,” or “children” appear only 10 times. Even San Francisco across the Bay got 88 mentions, and “parking” got big shoutouts—over 80 of them. A scan of other recent reports reveal similar and dismaying blind spots in our local planning efforts.
I moved downtown 13 years ago and for the last six of those years, my husband and I raised our two daughters and dog in a two bedroom condo in the Old Oakland neighborhood. We loved it because it’s an incredibly convenient and friendly place to raise a family downtown. We could bike our daughters to affordable daycare, walk to work, shop at small businesses and local farmers markets, and spend hours at the nearby public libraries and parks. Six generations of my family have grown up and grown old downtown, in and around Chinatown, but the reality is that while there have always been incredible family-friendly amenities and quality schools, there are hardly any family-sized housing options available nowadays.
So it’s no surprise that early last year we reluctantly moved to the edge of town where we could find a little more space for our growing girls. We traded our 2-kid hauler bike for a second car and more than tripled our commute time. But we’re not the only ones. Over the last 13 years, I've bid farewell to many families of all incomes being sized and priced out of downtown and the city altogether. Unfortunately, our current housing crisis has only accelerated the outward migration.
It’s been said that children are the indicator species of urban health and great neighborhoods, and by this measure, Oakland is in trouble.