November 29, 2011

Off to Atlanta

For a school task force meeting to set the curriculum for our bachelors degree in Advertising. Plus, a short visit with family.

Pop-up Stores in Oldtown Oakland a Brilliant Idea - reprinted from The Bay Citize

By  |November 28, 2011 11:06 a.m

You’re familiar with the idea: seasonal retail shops that suddenly materialize in once-vacant storefronts to sell Halloween costumes in October. Christmas trees in December. Remaindered calendars come January. More recently, big box shops have pounced on the idea of flash retail as well; to promote its Rodarte clothing line a couple of years ago, Target launched Target to Go—mini-shops in carefully selected locations that opened and closed within three days. Google is cashing in on the trend, too—opening temporary retail spaces in airports this fall to hand-sell its new cloud computing laptop.
Now in Oakland, restaurateur Alfonso Dominguez and urban planner Sarah Filley are taking the pop-up concept to a new level. In December, they’re opening a pop-up neighborhood: three downtown blocks of temporary retail shops that showcase local designers, artists and goods.
The six participating stores—which range from clothing and crafts to bicycles and art—will occupy currently vacant spaces for six months, rent free, and try to turn a profit. If they succeed, they’ll sign a long-term lease with the building, which spans four city blocks of the Old Oakland district downtown; and what began as an experiment becomes a bonafide shopping district. That’s the idea, anyway.
Dominguez and Filley are calling the venture “popuphood.”
“The central idea is to use the rapid startup of a popup, but instead of doing one store here and there, we want to actually nurture small businesses and cultivate a critical mass,” said Filley. “A thriving retail district, basically.”
A designer named Douglas Burnham did something similar in San Francisco, opening a cluster of restaurants and retail shops inside 26 modified shipping containers arranged on an empty lot in Hayes Valley. But the difference, according to Dominguez and Filley, is that popuphood is a long-term plan for neighborhood revitalization, while Burnham’s project was meant to be fleeting.
The stores will share a building with one of Dominguez’s other ventures, a restaurant and tequila bar called Tamarindo, on 8th Street and Broadway, not too far from a taqueria he owns. So he, admittedly, has a vested interest in bolstering the neighborhood’s profile and economic outlook.
After watching store after store shutter windows and close up when the economy took a downturn in 2008, Dominguez worried that the vacant storefronts would never fill up.
“People were too scared to open retail,” he said.  “And they saw me being the only one here. It was really hard.”
Then he had an idea: What if a group of like-minded business owners banded together to fill the empty spaces, cooperatively market their stores, and together mitigate the risks of starting up a new business?
Inspired, he teamed up with Filley, a friend with experience in urban planning and public art innovation, who helped him put together a business proposal to present to the city’s redevelopment agency and the owners of the building, Peter Sullivan Associates.
“It happened really fast,” Dominguez said. “We were a little like, ‘Whoa, can we pull this off?’”
Within a matter of months, they had secured permits and a marketing grant from the city of Oakland, and worked out an arrangement with the owners, who were happy to donate the space.
“Many of these spaces have been vacant for a year or more,” Filley said. “So for (the property owners), it’s no risk. And the tenants are offering to improve the spaces, and make it work for them.”
Three of the shops—Marion & Rose’s Workshop, Manifesto Bicycles and Sticks + Stones—will open early to host holiday sales for “Plaid Friday,” an indie alternative to Black Friday.
But the grand opening of all six—one of which, a furniture shop, will be housed inside a repurposed shipping container in the parking lot behind the building—is December 9. Dominguez and Filley are hosting a block party from 12pm to 9pm, on 9th Street, in collaboration with neighboring businesses and restaurants, including Trappist bar and B restaurant.
Besides introducing Oaklanders to the stores, they’re hoping the block party will reacquaint residents with the charm of Old Oakland: the Victorian architecture, mature trees and brick-lined walkways.
“It’s historic and it’s gorgeous,” Filley said. “It also has highest transit and walk scores in the city of Oakland, and there’s a free shuttle that goes from the ferry all the way to the arts district. Its really a big head scratcher as to why this neighborhood hasn’t taken off already.”
Brian Kendall, an urban economic analyst with Oakland’s redevelopment agency, helped Dominguez and Filley secure city funding for the project, from façade improvement grants to marketing money for the grand opening.
“It’s definitely an experiment and I will be really curious to see where it goes,” Kendall said of the venture “it exposes these areas to the possibility of what could be. What does Old Oakland want to be?”
He argues that Popuphood, like Oaklandish and Awaken Café, may bring the “cool factor” to downtown Oakland, which was once dominated by “mom and pop” shops and vacant space, he said.
To say the least, the shops Dominguez and Filley “curated” for popuphood are eclectic and hip: Manifesto sells custom fixed gears. Piper & John General Goods offers vintage clothing, jewelry and “reclaimed” décor. Crown 9 is an artisanal jewelry store. Sticks and Stones art gallery will open an accompanying retail shop. And in a shipping container behind the building, you’ll find Turtle & Hare, an design-and-build furniture shop.
But apart from its trendy offerings, Kendall said Popuphood’s greatest strength will be its founders’ ability to market the project, set themselves apart from other area businesses and reach people who wouldn’t normally go downtown to shop.
“People will travel for restaurants and bars,” Kendall said. “But people aren’t necessarily going to travel for shoes.”
But Filley is optimistic.
“The restaurants and bars around here are fantastic and have a following, so the only thing missing in this neighborhood is retail,” she said. Clustering shops, restaurants and bars can benefit everyone involved, she added.
“Knowing that you have other neighbors that are doing it with you, that can bring marketing and foot traffic and followers was really the tipping point for a lot of them,” Filley said of the other business owners. “To know that you can pool your resources together and ask ‘Where do you get your sign made? How do you use Iphone commerce?’…That’s valuable.”

November 26, 2011

November 25, 2011

Scariest Street in San Francisco

I unfortunately just walked down Jessie Street between 5th and 6th in San Francisco at 10pm. Since I am friendly and foolishly fearless, I asked some very scary folks for directions to the dance club at which I am meeting my friend Lynn. Thankfully these folks were very friendly and I was personally escorted by one man. As we walked down the very active alley he told me not to worry because the worst I would see is people smoking crack. As we chit-chatted during our journey one lively character said I was a hot one. Suddenly I realized that I could be on the way to a very unhappy ending. Thankfully, my escort brought me to the club door and I gave him a tip. Unfortunately, they would not let me into the club until Lynn arrives since her name is on the VIP list and she could be bringing someone else. They then turned away from me as if I were dirt. That was pretty crappy after my escort had demanded that I get special treatment. When they told me I had to wait in the Alley all I could think was that my luck could run out.

So, I am now eating a very expensive dinner at a nearby restaurant as I wait for Lynn. Usually I am in bed at this hour.

November 24, 2011

Alice's Restaurant

Listening via Skype with my family in CT and me in Oakland.

November 22, 2011

Grateful for Tomorrow's Leaders

Every night before I go to bed I think about the day and reflect on the "roses" - meaningful interactions with friends, fellow yogis, co-workers, or even strangers. This practice puts a beautiful ending on each day and helps me sleep better. You may notice that in my list of roses, I did not include students. This is because when I leave the classroom I deliberately close the door on thinking about my 100 students. 

However, the first thought I had this morning when I awoke was about the work my students did in yesterday's Executive Leadership class. Their assignment was to create six criteria by which they would determine if someone is a Level 5 leader, defined by Jim Collins, the author of Good to Greatas person "who operates first and foremost with genuine humility." The students were assigned to then use their criteria to evaluate a leader of their choice to determine if in fact this person were a Level 5 leader. When I explained the in-class assignment there were long sighs and rolling of eyes from half the class. The other half of the students moved quickly into groups and immediately started sharing ideas about leaders they wanted to evaluate and the criteria they would use to create their evaluation system. 

As I listened to the working groups and watched how the teams interacted I noticed that the enthusiastic teams were deep in conversation and studiously researching on the Internet. I heard "yes!" and "aha!" as they shared ideas and drew conclusions. At one point a student in a group at the far end of the room said, "should they demonstrate compassion and empathy?" and I sang across the room, "Excellent!"

At the end of class the groups presented their conclusions and I was absolutely blown away by the quality of the work. The students had thoughtfully created evaluation criteria. Then they had either imagined that they were the leader answering their questionnaire or they found quotes by and about the person that allowed the team to rate his or her leadership qualities. 

Some of the teams went further, demonstrating thought leadership and professionalism that I rarely see in people twice their age. I am grateful that these students went beyond the obvious, challenging their assumptions about what makes someone a great leader. It warms my heart to know that in a few years these students will be out in the world making a difference. 

In the November 21, 2011 edition of  The New York Times, the article "A Serving of Gratitude May Save the Day" by John Tierney discusses various research studies that indicate gratefulness can improve your spirits and your health. Yesterday's teaching experience has inspired me to add my students to the list of roses on which I will reflect before sleeping each night. My definition of roses is now expanding to gratitude - a reflection on moments from the day for which I am grateful. 

November 18, 2011

My Favorite Mistake by Ricki Lake

This piece by Ricki Lake, featured in the latest edition of Newsweek, reminds me to love myself first and not try to "find a relationship" for love. Ricki was already at the top of my list of amazing women because of her hard work on Dancing with the Stars where she demonstrates integrity and generosity - clearly an open-hearted woman.  

My Favorite Mistake

Ricki Lake on falling hard for a jerk she met online.

When I was single two years ago, I decided I wanted a boyfriend for my birthday. My friends thought I was crazy for online dating. For somebody famous, it’s weird anyway to meet someone, because they have a preconceived notion of who you are. There was something anonymous that I liked about being online.
I found this narcissist online and started a whirlwind relationship where I was delusional. I was with a guy who was a total user and liar. He was English and considered himself a poet. He was more charismatic than physically beautiful, but I became infatuated with him very quickly. I was out of my mind in some ways. I wanted it so badly. I lost all clarity. I met with an immigration lawyer. I was going to marry him so he could get a green card. I even went to England with him and met his mother.
He was such a bad guy. I was the only one who didn’t see the signs. I found out from my housekeeper that he would be nice to my children in front of my face but would cringe about them behind my back. When we went to dinner, he was notorious for ordering the most expensive thing on the menu. He wanted me to introduce him to my agent. I have been on my own since I was 18, but I was letting this guy tell me what to do.Ricki Lake

Ricki Lake., Art Streiber

After six weeks, I looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize myself. I had lost all sense of who I was. I realized it was not working. As soon as I saw the light, it was over. I didn’t cry a tear about this guy. I dumped him. The next day, I caught him with another woman on Facebook. This woman was a friend of a friend, and she had posted a new profile of her cheek to cheek with this guy. I was like, “Oh, my god! He left me and went to the beach with her!” I was in shock.
I was going to make a documentary called Six Weeks of Poor Judgment, but I never did. I learned my own value. It’s not about having someone. It’s about having the right someone. I reached a point where I thought, Look, I need to be my own advocate. Two years later, I’m with the most amazing man who is absolutely right for me. I’m getting married next year. He’s selfless and kind, and he’s not looking to further his career through his lover. I’m with the right person. I had to go through a couple of dirtbags to get to him.

November 15, 2011

November 14, 2011

Being Generous with Touching

I'm quite shy about people touching me, unless of course I am romantically involved with the person. But now that I'm in the Yoga Advanced Study Program, taking anatomy and standing poses, I am feeling the benefit of touch. A simple placement of your hand on a partner's ribcage can awaken their body to lengthen into a pose or even relax in an area. I'm also starting to wear tighter and fewer clothes to class so that it is easier for my classmates to see my anatomy and help me improve my poses. It is nice not to think about being too fat or lumpy - none of us think that way. We see past the superficial and are noticing alignment and structure.

I feel that this yoga practice requires generosity and I believe that will be my theme for next year. Generosity can be applied to me and how I treat myself and of course how I treat others. This is my intention for 2012.

I Don't Understand Occupy Oakland

According to the article "cops dismantle Occupy Oakland, arrest 32, a protester stated the following:

"If they take over the camp, we're going to reoccupy. Our objective is for them to keep spending money. We are not going to stop."

Whose money does the protester think the city is spending? This is not fat cat money, this is taxpayer money. Every penny the city spends related to the Occupy Oakland protest is money that is not going to maintaining and perhaps improving the city itself. The 99% lose out in this protest if the objective is to spend taxpayers' money in this way.

November 13, 2011

New Chickens

My friend Leah's new chickens are the perfect experiment in urban farming.

November 12, 2011

Jim Kweskin at Freight & Salvage

Awesome, once again.

In Honor of 11.11.11

To celebrate the date I had a couple of lovely women over to my place last night for dinner. Rachel brought me her Spinal Tap dolls which are now on loan for dating inspiration. Looks like I will attract a rocking dude into my life with the karma of these three characters.

November 10, 2011

Spare Change for a Frappuccino?

That's what a homeless man asked me outside the Starbuck's on Market at 9th. He was already holding a frappuccino! Now that's what I call customer loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing.

November 9, 2011

La Raza Chronicles Radio Archive

If you want to hear me on KPFA's La Raza Chronicles talking about Flyaway Productions' 10 Women Campaign on November 8, visit this link. I'm on at about 35-40 minutes into the show. It was a good broadcast. Too bad the host butchered my name. Then again, I butchered the Spanish language.

Goal for 2012: Learn to speak Spanish!

November 8, 2011

Inside the KPFA Studio

Getting ready to be on the air at 88.1FM.

Hear Me on La Raza Chronicles Tonight

This evening I will be representing Flyaway Productions on the radio during KPFA's La Raza Chronicles, 7pm at 94.1FM and 89.3FM. Now to learn Spanish in the next twelve hours.

November 5, 2011

Organized Oakland

We are getting a tour of this ad hoc city. There is a library, infirmary, kitchen, compost area, kids zone and more. I am amazed.

Occupy Oakland

Deanne and I are in downtown Oakland so we checked out the cold, wet scene. Seems peaceful this evening.

November 4, 2011

Gluten Free Mac and Cheese

I made my first creamy, baked Mac and Cheese with quinoa pasta, basil, butter, masa flour (!), for cheeses and lots of dry vermouth. Plus, turkey bacon. Oh yes, life is good.

Les Femmes du Maroc

My friend Margaret and I wandered past the Jenkins Johnson Gallery off of Union Square this afternoon and were stopped in out tracks by the photography of Lalla Essaydi. You can view her images here:

There is no easy way to describe her work except that it gives you goose bumps - both for its poetic beauty and because you have to wonder what life entails for the women who are literally captured in her images.

November 3, 2011

Owning a Food Truck

Food Trucks use to be called roach coaches but now they are the hottest trend in small businesses with high earning potential. I love the idea that you can cook it up and serve out on the move. The concept combines travel and culinary while building community. Plus, it taps into the extreme excitement I felt as a child, and still experience, every time I see "the ice cream man".

This is a photo of the food trucks circling at UN Plaza in preparation for Thursday's market. Cuisines range from Kung Fu Tacos to BBQ and Cupcakes.

Now to design my ideal food truck.