Thursday, January 7, 2010

2009 Recap, Hello New Decade

2009 was an exciting year to live in Oakland. From political drama to fried-chicken sandwiches, theater closings to theater openings, bridge trouble to pot clubs, anything and everything seemed to be happening in our city. It was also an exciting year for us at Oaklandish.

We expanded our Oakland warehouse enough to allow us to open our own screen printing shop, Corsair Press. Now we can experiment with advanced techniques, placements, and inks and then channel everything we've learned into bringing you new Oaklandish designs, plus help other groups with their shirts and posters. (Email if you need anything printed.)

Our grant program, the Oakland Innovators Award, saw the most money distributed among recipients in the program's history. For 2009, we were lucky enough to be able to give away $30,000 in grants and thousands more in free design work, screen printing, and Oaklandish auction donations. In the spring we teamed up with the always-inspiring Oakland Museum to create an installation at the Oakland Airport highlighting the Innovators Award winners, including Town Park at DeFremery Park and Original Scraper Bikes.

As the year rolled on into summer, people filled the streets, and the sun beat down on Lake Merritt. Thus, the stage was set for the second annual Salsa By The Lake. An event so successful we did it twice in one summer. Hundreds from all over the Bay Area came to Splash Pad Park to dance to live salsa bands Pasion Habanera and Rumbache. The Grand Lake neighborhood came alive and enjoyed two days of music, dancing, vibrancy, and culture.

Two Salsa By The Lake events, plus street festivals like Lakefest, Laurel, and Uptown Unveiled, and then our biggest party of the year: Oaklandish's Lake Merritt Radio Regatta. We saw over a thousand of you take to the lake in nautical hats, play 4-square games lakeside, bid at the Youth Spirit Artworks silent auction, and dance it up at the boathouse with your favorite Linden Street brews.

The summer weather stuck around right up until winter declared itself. The holidays were upon us, our busiest time of year. We shipped out a record number of online orders, set up booths at various Bay Area holiday fairs, and returned to our well-known spot on the corner of Piedmont and Pleasant Valley.

Despite all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, we somehow found the time to participate in our first gallery show in years, our installation at Swarm Gallery (which runs until the 24th of this month). Made almost entirely of cardboard, our little old-timey shop offers Oaklandish classics for sale as well as limited-edition shirts designed by Terry Furry, Sarah Smith, John Casey, and Jake Watling.

2009 was also a year of history repeating. For the 13th time you voted us "Best of the East Bay" (best East Bay product and best place to buy a t-shirt) for the Express' annual awards. As much as we love hearing positive words from people out there, it's always nice to see it in print. The Oakland Museum hosted an amazing party celebrating the awards. We set up a booth and showcased our new screen print shop with a live printing demonstration of our new Bay Bridge design.

Another constant for us are our year-round farmers' market weekends. Saturdays we pull up our converted '66 Cortez campervan/mobile store under the palms of the Grand Lake farmers' market and Sundays we set up a simple booth under the towering, creekside eucalyptus trees at Temescal. Fresh local produce, live music, local artisans, and happy Oaklanders are what make Oakland's various farmers' markets a staple of East Bay living.

All in all, it was a great year to live and work in Oakland, California. Spending time with people in our daily lives, at festivals, markets, and parties reminds us of how proud we are to call this city home. A city as diverse as it is complicated, as troubled as it is blessed. It's the opportunity to give back and really be a part of our community that drives us into the New Year. A sincere and heartfelt "thank you" from everyone here at Oaklandish for your continued support as we enter our second decade.

Local Love & Original Oakland Charm,
The Oaklandish Crew

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