Adapting to Life After Oakland

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For twenty-plus years, I was an Oakland Resident. Born, raised and proud of it. Sad to see it changing. Neighborhoods being torn down, homes being rebuilt and businesses taking their place. I watched my community go from an urban ghetto to hipster hill.

In 2014, I had to leave my Oakland home and move outside the city. I moved miles away, to a small city called Antioch. The area I moved to already had former Oakland Residents living there. They had similar stories to mine about being pushed out. I was surprised to see other residents from different counties, too. Richmond folks, San Franciscans, Vallejo, Hayward, just a gumbo pot. We had all been pushed out.

Life after meant finding new restaurants, places of entertainment, shopping. We could no longer eat at Mills Hoagie (in Oakland). But then we found New Mecca (in Pittsburg). We couldn't assemble at Pak N Save, so we chilled in the Sycamore parking lot. We found alternatives to a challenging situation. Complain or adapt.

Gentrification happens for so many different reasons, but the best solution is to adapt. We've all had to try a new food, go to a new school, meet new people. What's wrong with a road trip? BART, bus and shuttle were also reliable means of transportation, so we weren't completely cut off from the Bay. The commute was probably the hardest thing to adjust to.

After a year, I had the opportunity to move back due to a housing subsidy. Unfortunately I’m still watching many others move out, go to Stockton, Sacramento, Tracy. My sister moved to Tracy a year ago. She had been living in Berkeley but could no longer afford it. She adjusted with the help of family and friends who had moved there years earlier. Instead of shopping at Whole Foods, she had to settle for Grocery Outlet Bargain Market. Instead of hair salons, word of mouth put her in contact with a home stylist. It's all about adjusting and adapting.