Saturday, March 12, 2011

Time to Roll Up the Tents...

It's time to roll up the tents and move on to other endeavors. After much thought and deliberation, We Fight Blight has decided to shut down its blog...

For the past several years we have dedicated a significant amount of time to fighting blight in North Oakland and South Berkeley and empowering residents with the tools and information to address blight on their street, block or in their neighborhood. We have worked with the City of Oakland to remove 127 abandoned and inoperable vehicles, clean up 87 blighted houses and commercial sites, and publicize the tough battle over the Nic Nak Liquor Store. With 117 postings, our stories covered many topics including litter, drug houses, potholes, graffiti, liquor stores, crime, community murals, Caltrans' right-of-way, BART, street trees, and the mismanagement of Oakland Public Works. Perhaps no other story garnered so many comments, interest and controversy as did the fight against the Nic Nak liquor store. Change is difficult and sometimes tumultuous.

We operated on the basis of the "broken window theory" and attempted to fight crime by reducing and eliminating blight. Along the way, we encountered many articulate and passionate members of the community who are striving to make Oakland safer for all residents.

Oakland has a tremendous amount of potential that is being realized in fits and starts. North Oakland and South Berkeley are seeing significant rejuvenation and reinvestment fueled by demographic and socio-economic changes, as well as location. These trends will only continue into the foreseeable future. We have been pleased to report on these trends in the 94609/94608/94703 zip codes, which we affectionately term the "donut hole".

In fighting blight, we could not avoid weighing in on larger political issues--such as the City's budget morass and the decided lack of support for the Oakland Police Department. As we have consistently noted, the City of Oakland cannot be all things to all people. Rather, the City must focus only on core services--police, fire, infrastructure and economic development. If the City wishes to reduce the reality and perception of crime and provide fuel for economic growth and revitalizing Oakland, it must provide far more police and work far more diligently to address the high cost of blight. It must also address the problems of transparency and accountability among its elected Officials and City staff.

For those who write blogs, you know the power of the Internet and the ability to make your voice heard on issues that you are passionate about. But you also know this is really hard work and it takes a lot of time and effort. We respect those, such as V. Smoothe at A Better Oakland, who have been at it a long time and continue to put out insightful, relevant, and uniquely Oakland stories. Thank you.

While this is goodbye, it is not farewell. Those of us who have labored over the We Fight Blight Blog will continue to be invested in making our communities safer and more livable for everyone.

Thank you all for indulging us and listening to our stories.


Anonymous said...

While it is sad to see you go (and I hope you leave the blog up and update the phone numbers occasionally), it is completely understandable as it does take great effort to write a blog as consistently good and informative as this one.

I've also seen the improvements to our neighborhood as a result of your work (and the work of other neighborhood groups) and have come to understand the benefit of peaceful community activism. I no longer look at my neighbors as merely those who share my street, knowing they are each a valuable, and hopeful, contributor to our vibrant neighborhood.

I have also learned a great deal about Oakland City government, which has explained why it continues to function as an inefficient albatross, seemingly wrapped around each of our necks while clinging to hubris as its only life source. But there is hope, in the City Auditor's staff and function, and within the younger generation looking forward to removing the remaining dead wood from City offices.

While we have a ways to go, the future looks bright.


Neighbor said...

Oh nooo! You can't be serious, can you...? I am very disappointed by this announcement, while I noticed your posting frequency had dropped off I just assumed you are too busy out there busting heads to find time to write about it.

Godspeed friend(s), I have gained immensely from each and every post and am sad that there will be no more of them. I didn't often comment but took in every point, pointer and pointed remark. If there will be a new endeavor please link it here so I can continue to follow along. Thanks for all your hard work and dedication to the worthy cause if making this a better place to live for all of us.

BerkeleyDude said...

I literally had a mouth full of a donut from Donut Farm when I saw this and was so surprised I nearly let it fall right out onto my computer keyboard ... Now that would have been messy... I hope you will reconsider, you have covered timely and important topics and have changed the way I view my surroundings, for better or for worse. Whatever you do I wish you the best and thank you sincerely for your past service to our community at large. I didn't always agree with what you said but could often not refute your Ever considered a career in politics?.