Kristine Vejar runs A Verb for Keeping Warm, a store that sells yarn, fabric, knitting & sewing supplies, and clothing in north Oakland. It's also a classroom, a natural dyeing studio and garden, and home to an adorable French Angora rabbit named Marcel.
This week's show is a conversation I recorded recently with Kira Brunner Don and Timothy Don, founding directors of the Oakland Book Festival, happening this year (for the first time ever!) on May 31, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at City Hall. Kira grew up in Oakland, though she and Timothy just moved here (or in her case, moved back) from New York a few months ago. We talked about the event they've created and planned, what they hope the festival leads to, why the moved to Oakland, and the frequent comparisons between Oakland and Brooklyn.
This week I talked with Doctor Popular, a San Francisco-based artist and game designer who launched a project in Oakland last weekend. (That was my excuse.) Doc works in a variety of different media and does a lot of art that isn't commercial. We talked about some of the work he's made, how he pays the bills, and how he's seen San Francisco change (or not) in the time he's lived here.
This week's interview is with Sarah Rich, a writer & editor based in Oakland who, until just a few weeks ago, was editing the Medium publication re:form, an online magazine of sorts about design that was "mothballed" for lack of a sponsor. Sarah's story of how re:form started and why it ended is a great insight into how media companies are trying to find ways to pay for good creative work in the Internet age, and what the challenges are for someone on the writing or editorial side, like Sarah.
Mark Armstrong is the founder of Longreads, a website (and Twitter account) that helps people find some of the best long-form writing on the web. Mark and I talked about why he started Longreads -- initially as a hashtag -- in 2009, what he's done with it in the six years since, and how his work has changed since the site was acquired last year by Automattic, the parent company of Wordpress. We also dug into the question of attention and time on the web and what he thinks the future of funding online story-telling might look like.
I sat down in the BFF.fm studios with Dave Campbell, advocacy director for Bike East Bay, to discuss the future of biking in our part of the world. We talked about protected bike lanes on Telegraph, the move toward "complete streets," and Bike to Work Day (May 14 this year!). We also took a little detour to talk about the possibility of a second Transbay Tube for BART, an idea that Dave has some reservations about.
I sat down this week with Karen Cusolito, artist and founder of American Steel Studios in West Oakland. We talked about her art -- mostly making very large steel sculptures -- and her neighborhood, and how both of them are changing. Karen has been involved in efforts to keep West Oakland a hospitable place for industrial arts and to improve it for existing residents. She wears, as they say, a lot of hats, only one of which is a welding helmet.
I talked this week with Doug Wittnebel, design director in the Oakland office of the architecture firm Gensler & Associates. Gensler is headquartered in San Francisco, and just opened this new Oakland office about six weeks ago (after closing their old East Bay office, which had been in San Ramon). A lot of the work Gensler is doing is connected to Oakland's changing economy, like their work on the renovation of the former downtown Sears. Doug and I talked about those changes, the role of architecture in solving big problems, and about the art he makes for fun.
For this show, I had a really fun conversation with Kate Rhoades and Maysoun Wazwaz, the producers of Bay Area art & culture podcast Congratulations Pine Tree. We talked about their show, about the Bay Area art world that show covers (and of which they're both a part), and about the difficulty of making a living as an artist in this part of the world. I love their show and you should listen to it -- after you're done listening to this interview.
Here are some of the organizations and resources Kate & Maysoun mentioned in the show for supporting artists and staying on top of art happenings in the Bay Area: