For the last two years, a growing cast of thousands have flocked to this site, aptly named A Better Oakland. Here we have found an amazing advocate and Oakland devotee in V Smoothe, who dedicates a staggering amount of time to educating us about the detailed dysfunction of our city and the possible pathways towards a city that lives up to its promise. Indeed, the blog often reads like a love letter to a a betrothed who just won’t get up, shower, put on a tie and go get that job.
We come here to his site to find everything we need to know about what is going on in our fair city by the bay. We love Oakland and we love the advocacy for sound planning and policy-making that is so often displayed in its writing. To the constant surprise and astonishment of her readers, V Smoothe turns up, posting after posting, so much data and so much research to validate her points. And if you are inclined to disagree, there are the links for you to get to the same data and draw your own conclusion. Then you can comment, have at it, all on her dime, all after she has done the hard work and heavy lifting.
And that isn’t the only reason why you come to this site. It’s also because the writing is so smart, punchy and fluid. I won’t say it makes up for the depressing and dry coverage that Oakland gets from much of the local media, but it really does captivate you. If you have the time and are clever enough to keep abreast of other national blogs and pop culture you can find sly, topical references throughout her posts. From her National review/Rich Lowry-esque send up of the Rebecca Kaplan-Kerry Hamill debate, to her Gossip Girl take on a simple Community Development Block Grant committee election (which is my favorite post ever and I admit to reading it once a week since last October), you can see the pure genius and dedication she has to keeping us all aware, involved, and entertained.
I know this blog has great reach, and not simply because V Smoothe’s numbers are trackable and range from 3,000-6,000 unique visitors per week. I know because last year when I was walking around the 3rd district I found myself on Mead street, a street I had usually avoided. Drugs and violence are rampant on that particular block, and were on this day. But when one twentysomething pregnant woman came to the door, I started to go into my pitch and she stopped me “Oh, I know who you are. I read A Better Oakland every day.” Even in our most battered neighborhoods, this blog is having an effect, educating and inspiring.
So after two years of ever expanding and well written coverage, I ask, how much is this all worth to you? Yes, the economy is challenged and that the city of Oakland is in duress but there are always reasons to limit you. It’s just like Oakland, you can sit and talk about its potential like so many do or you can step up and do something about it.
Join me in making a $100 contribution to A Better Oakland, or $500, $50, $10, or whatever you can afford. As the future of journalism is debated in other media, do your part to preserve a real investigative treasure right here in Oakland. Give today.