Saturday, May 21, 2011

parklets, built, enjoyed, now missing...

It's been a busy spring for us here, and for me personally. I've been training for AIDS/Lifecycle, and I'm leaving in just a couple weeks to ride my bike from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise funds for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation ( for more). It's been a lot of work, finding time to train and run the business, and getting prepared to be gone for 10 straight days in June. I agonized over the decision for a while, and recently decided that it was time to hire a manager; once I did, I spent a couple months trying to find the right person. I think I did - Chris is his name, and he's been here for a couple weeks now. If you see him at the counter, welcome him. I'm looking forward to many improvements in the operation once he gets settled in - stay tuned for that.

But on top of all this, I have been working with Walk Oakland, Bike Oakland, the East Bay Bicycle Coalition and others, trying to get permission to install a Parklet ( if you don't know what a parklet is) in the defunct bus stop at the end of Alcatraz (right outside our window). Although parklets have been deployed in San Francisco for a couple years now, there's no process to do the same thing here in Oakland. We spent time speaking to various City departments, and couldn't get a clear answer about how to proceed.

So we built one.

We spent just a few hundred dollars, and used mostly reclaimed and donated materials, and only volunteer labor. Our friends at WOBO and EBBC, and especially the PLACE for Sustainable Living contributed tons of hours to help us get all the construction done. It was beautiful, I think.

It went to EBBC's Bike After Work party in Old Oakland, where it was a big hit, then came back here for our Parklet Love-In, which was tons of fun - we had lots of friends and neighbors come out, and everyone had great things to say about the parklet. It got well used that day.

After the weekend was over, I disassembled the parklet into its components, and stacked it up on the sidewalk to get it ready to move into storage until we had another event or could get a permit for permanent installation.

Then the bad thing happened. I was so wiped out from all the parklet building, and other Bike Month things we'd been working on, that I left the parklet pieces sitting on the sidewalk for longer than I ought to. Someone (and maybe multiple someones) helped themselves to the pieces before I noticed and could do anything about it.

So we're out a parklet. Which is sad. It's not the money, or even the time I spent, that I'm sad about. It's the fact that so many other folks gave their sweat and blood (literally) to get the thing built, moved, re-built, etc. I don't want their work to have been wasted.

So, I'm trying to spread the word as widely as I can, and enlist whatever help we can get, to find and get the parklet returned to us. I'm relatively sure that the folks who took it didn't think they were doing anything wrong, and if they get wind that we're looking for it, they'll bring it back home.

Please, if you've seen our parklet, let us know. If you took it, please bring it back. I'll make it worth your while - no questions asked. No one here is angry - just sad and hopeful.