Today marks the second interview of the Hometown Project. Paula Chan from That Was Then, This is Wow shares her perspective of life in Oakland, California. As a graphic designer, illustrator and photographer, you can see her work at Cargo Collective/PaulaChanDesign, portfolio website, or Instagram.
(Photo: Landscape view of Oakland, California. Courtesy of Paula Chan.)
Q: Where were you born?
A: Sacramento, CA
Q: Where do you currently live?
A: Oakland, CA
Q: How long have you live in Oakland?
A: 18 years
Q: Why did you move to your city/town? What do you do for a living?
A: I moved back to the Bay Area/Northern CA, originally to a different city than where I live now, after finishing school in Southern CA. I am a Graphic Designer and Illustrator.
Q: What were your some of your experiences when you first moved?
A: Getting re-familiarized with the San Francisco Bay Area–I had moved from here down to Los Angeles, where I lived for six years, then moved back up here. However, I moved to a totally different area from where I lived before, so I had to find new resources and learn how to get around my new area.
Q: What were some positive forces that helped in your move/transition?
A: I found a killer apartment in a wonderful little neighborhood.
(Photos: Homeroom in Oakland, CA, offers the best mac and cheese. Courtesy of Paula Chan.)
Q: What were some negative factors in your first few months/years?
A: Getting over a bad breakup.
Q: What is your perspective of your city/town today? How do you see things differently from your initial move?
A: Oakland gets a bad rap. People think it’s all bad neighborhoods and shootings, but most of Oakland is beautiful and calm. There’s great views of San Francisco from the Oakland Hills, there are parks and wilderness to be explored. More and more upscale restaurants are opening here, and downtown has seen a resurgence in nightlife. Oakland is becoming the hip place to be.
(Photo: Silhouette sky view in Oakland, CA. Courtesy of Paula Chan.)
Q: Knowing what you know how, would you have done things differently in your transition?
A: I would have moved into my own apartment from the start, rather than moving in with someone into their home.
Q: Have you found a community within your city? If so, how were you able to find and cultivate relationships in your community?
A: Yes. Oakland has a lot of artists and artisans. We have a huge talent pool–several of our kids have made it onto shows like “So You think You Can Dance”‘ and “America’s Got Talent.” We have a lot of chefs creating delicious food. I have been able to cultivate relationships by doing the activities that I love and participating in performance workshops and volunteering, among other activities.
Q: Do you notice of experience diversity and culture in your city? If so, in what ways?
A: There is a huge amount of diversity in Oakland. I take Latin Dance classes from a woman from Cuba, Hip Hop classes and Jazz. I do rock climbing, where I run into people from all over the world; students from other states and countries. There’s all forms of martial arts classes available. For the LGBTQ, Oakland even has its own Pride weekend. All kinds of authentic food from Mexican to Ethiopian to South East Asian, even Filipino. If you prefer to do your own adventures in cooking, you can find just about any ingredient to cook any kind of food!
(Photo: GWPC Climbing Gym, courtesy of Paula Chan.)
Q: What would you recommend a newcomer to do on a weekend?
A: There’s too many things to suggest! There’s something for everyone! San Francisco is a short transit ride or drive. There’s a million things right in Oakland, including Farmer’s Markets, Oakland Museum of California, galleries, performing arts, parks, trails for hiking (recommend Tilden Park), and the Oakland Zoo. There are many things to do in nearby Berkeley or further East through the Caldecott Tunnel. Wine Country, including Sonoma are only a few hours North, or there’s wineries in the South near San Jose.
Q: What are your top three places to go see and do?
Q: What are your top three places to eat?
Q: For a newcomer to the area, what advice would you give him/her when transitioning to the neighborhood?
A: Get out of the house! Take a walk around your own neighborhood. Meet your new neighbors. Start finding favorite restaurants and haunts. Find out where you can still get a meal at 2am!
Q: Do you have any other comments or thoughts you would like to share about your hometown?
A: Oakland Rocks!
Thank you, Paula, for sharing your thoughts and perspective about Oakland. If you’d like to participate in the Hometown Project, you can share your thoughts here:
From my hometown to yours,