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Community Unites to Support San Pablo Fire Victims

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The West Oakland San Pablo Fire Relief and Advocacy Team, composed of local pastors and leaders of community-based organizations, is seeking unite the community to raise $100,000 to meet the needs of the families that have lost everything in the March 27 fire at 2551 San Pablo Ave. in Oakland.

“We have a mission: to bring strong advocacy and support on behalf of the survivors to provide for their unmet needs,” said Pastor Debra Avery of the First Presbyterian Church of Oakland, who co-chairs the advocacy team along with Bishop Joseph E. Simmons, Greater Saint Paul Missionary Baptist Church.

Pastor Debra Avery

The team has raised $2,700 in the past two days, utilizing social media and email, Avery said.  “We’re depending on people to share the message with their friends and neighbors.”

The team meets weekly, and there will be weekly updates.

Bishop Joseph Simmons

While the city and county are supporting the fire survivors, there are other needs that are still falling through the cracks, she said. For example, a construction worker needs help to purchase the tools he lost in the fire so that he can return to work.

The outpouring of support from Oaklanders, particularly West Oakland residents, has been amazing, she said.

Another pressing need, said Bishop Simmons, is finding decent affordable housing for the displaced. Too many landlords are seeking to build or upgrade to market rate housing, rather than to serve the families in Oakland that in desperate need.

The city may not have the funds to create the housing, but it does have the legal clout to require landlords to change their practices, he said.

Councilmember-at-Large Rebecca Kaplan has lent her voice to garner support for those who were displaced by the fire.

“In this difficult time, it is important for us to support those adversely affected by the fire,” she wrote in an email to her constituents.

Mayor Libby Schaaf has also issued a statement backing the fire survivors advocacy team.

“Over this past week, our city staff has been focused on helping them recover and taking the steps to ensure the safety of this community. I hope you will join the effort to help the families and individuals who lost so much in this fire,” Mayor Schaaf wrote.

The organization has designated the First Presbyterian Church of Oakland as the fiscal agent for the San Pablo Fire Relief and Advocacy Team Advocacy fund. Checks can be made out to: FPCO and mailed to the church at 2619 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612, or you can make a donation online.

Tax-deductible charitable contributions can be made to serve the unmet needs of fire victims

Bay Area

Vice Mayor: Business Group Wants to Buy Coliseum, Attract WNBA Team

The group will provide additional details of its effort at a news conference at 11:00 a.m. Friday at a site to be determined.

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Oakland Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan.

Oakland Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan said a local business group has made serious inroads to buy the city’s 50% stake in the Oakland Coliseum complex and to bring a WNBA team to the city.
Kaplan’s office shared a news release Monday about the effort by the African American Sports and Entertainment Group.

Kaplan said the group is in negotiations with the Oakland-Alameda Joint Powers Authority, has submitted a formal proposal to WNBA officials, and has submitted a term sheet to the city, which the City Council’s rules committee recently voted to advance to the full council for a vote.

The group will provide additional details of its effort at a news conference at 11:00 a.m. Friday at a site to be determined.

“I am pleased that there is such great interest in doing an important development at the Oakland Coliseum that will provide jobs, revenue and community positivity,” Kaplan said. “My goal is to help this process move forward before the summer recess.”

Kaplan said the group has the backing of more than 30 community groups of faith-based institutions, labor organizations, civic leaders, and job development organizations. She did not name the groups

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Art

City Selects Ayodele Nzinga as Inaugural Poet Laureate

As poet laureate, Nzinga will make an inaugural address, partner with the city’s youth poet laureate Myra Estrada on a reading series, deliver four readings in Oakland, and write a poem that commemorates the city.

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Oakland first poet laureate Ayodele Nzinga, author of “SorrowLand Oracle” and “The Horse Eaters,” in an undated photo. (Photo courtesy City of Oakland).

Poet, playwright, and community activist Ayodele Nzinga was selected as Oakland’s inaugural poet laureate, city officials announced on June 11.

Nzinga is the founding producer and director of the West Oakland theater company Lower Bottom Playaz, established in 1999. She’s also the founding director of Black Arts Movement Business District Community Development Corporation, which produces BAMBDFEST, an international arts and cultural festival celebrating the arts in the Black community.

“Her decades-long commitment to Oakland’s art scene will feed the richness of her storytelling as she nurtures creativity in others,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said in a statement.

Nzinga is the author of at least two books of poetry: “SorrowLand Oracle,” a collection of spells, incantations, prayers, and “The Horse Eaters,” which is described as an origin tale, a reclamation of memory and a movement toward wholeness in thought.

Nzinga said she is “overjoyed” with her selection as Oakland’s first poet laureate.

“I look forward to representing ‘The Town’ and the honor of bringing poetry to the people!” she said in a statement.

As poet laureate, Nzinga will make an inaugural address, partner with the city’s youth poet laureate Myra Estrada on a reading series, deliver four readings in Oakland, and write a poem that commemorates the city.

“Whether in the visual performing arts, music or literature, the talents of the Town’s artists are world-renowned and deserve recognition and financial support,” J. K. Fowler, cultural affairs commissioner and chair of the poet laureate selection team, said in a statement.

City officials closed nominations on May 19 for Oakland’s inaugural poet laureate and five members of the city’s literary community selected Nzinga from other nominees based on five criteria.

That included their poetic work, and among other things, their understanding of civic stories around belonging, culture, and equity.

Nzinga will serve a two-year term until May 2023. Her selection comes with a $5,000 honorarium.

The date for the inaugural address by Nzinga has not been set.

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Business

Go Fund Geoffrey’s

Whether it was Paul Mooney, Faye Carroll, Sugar Pie or Jay-Z performing or whether it was Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Mayor Elihu Harris, or Kamala Harris along with many of the Bay area’s elected officials they too have come to bask in the limelight of Geoffrey’s Inner Circle.

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Geoffrey's Inner Circle

For more than 30 years Geoffrey Pete ‘s business, Geoffrey’s Inner Circle, has been a cultural hub because of its full-service restaurant, live entertainment, nightclub parties, jazz music and community special occasion events. Faith-based organizations have also rented the spacious facilities for services and concerts. Their full-service restaurant, bar and live entertainment business along with their tenants and multilevel event rental spaces have been severely interrupted and devastated by the COVID 19 lockdowns and restrictions.

Whether it was Paul Mooney, Faye Carroll, Sugar Pie or Jay-Z performing or whether it was Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Mayor Elihu Harris, or Kamala Harris along with many of the Bay area’s elected officials they too have come to bask in the limelight of Geoffrey’s Inner Circle. Now those lights are dimmed due to the economic conditions that have descended on high intensity people-contact businesses.

Thanks to a group of customers and supporters a Go Fund Me page has been opened for the public to contribute to support Geoffrey’s Inner Circle https://gofund.me/b2541419.

The Post newspaper has notified the Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce that regular articles concerning the needs of Geoffrey’s and other Black-owned Businesses will be published weekly.

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