To be perfectly honest, I debated whether or not I should do this thread. I've had this set for around a week now, but I planned on waiting until I had new pics that weren't taken in the Oakland Hills. The simple reason is because the goal of my project is to offer a balanced look at Oakland; exclusively focusing on or condemning/praising one part of it IMO is dishonest. I want people to understand that the sum of whatever the flatlands and the hills and downtown and etc. are and aren't is what Oakland is, no more and no less.
Sometimes, though, I wonder whether always attempting to keep it real actually doesn't fully do justice to the unique aspects of each part. For example, in my opinion, some of the neighborhoods in the Oakland Hills are just about the most beautiful affluent neighborhoods in the Bay Area. In a way, despite that I've covered the area, I don't think that I've really illustrated that belief because I've never focused on showing it.
What makes me hesitant, though, is that I realize that a lot of people find that showing beauty for the sake of showing beauty often rings false, particularly when it glorifies wealth (and lots of it). I definitely understand that sentiment... in fact, I definitely felt that exact same sentiment when I read the New York Times travel article on Oakland a couple months ago that basically told the readership to overlook "the grit" and focus on the "trendy and hip" side of town. I wonder whether the author has ever actually looked at the grit in person or whether he/she just assumes there's nothing worth seeing.
However, I also don't want to be someone who's afraid to sing praises that should be sung. However odd that may sound, I find that it's true of a lot of Oaklanders, and in this case, even of those who live in the Hills
. Our one-dimensional media representation has become embedded into the culture of the Bay Area to the point where there's the expectation that an Oaklander is supposed to entertain and affirm questions like, "Is Oakland really that
bad?" or, "Aren't you afraid that you'll get shot?" from people who often haven't spent a second of their lives here.
In other words, I realized that I too had internalized that same inferiority complex. Instead of replying to comments like that the way that I imagine someone from say, San Francisco would if they were asked that question about their own city - probably something along the lines of "What kind of a stupid question is that" if not more profane - I inwardly roll my eyes while telling them what they expect to hear, which is what I'm expected to do. I'm not going to do that anymore.
To be clear, this is not a rant directed towards anybody on SSP. If anything, I find that the posters here are some of the most open-minded on the net when it comes to having the ability to look at people, places and things with a complexity that escapes far too many. This is more my own general statement that I don't think there's any reason to accept an inferiority complex just because I'm expected to. Oakland is a great and beautiful place, and screw anybody who says differently who hasn't experienced it for themselves. It can also be a terrible and ugly place, and it's that duality that ultimately makes it both.
I think that just might be the longest preamble I've ever written... lol.
The neighborhoods covered in this thread are Merriewood, Hiller Highlands and Claremont Hills. The latter two were the Oakland neighborhoods most affected by the Oakland Hills fire back in 1992... I mention that because its one of the themes of this set.
Thanks for viewing my thread. All feedback is appreciated and will be returned.