In 2000, a group of young black artists, entrepreneurs, and community organizers got together with the vision of restoring the historic West Oakland Lower Bottoms neighborhood and returning it once again into a vibrant commercial and residential hub. They purchased commercial buildings, homes and vacant lots on Pine and Wood Streets, relocated the Black Dot Artists Collective’s headquarters, and launched the Black New World performance venue.
This bottom-up approach to urban planning with its emphasis on cultural roots has models ranging from San Francisco’s Chinatown and Little Italy to New York’s 1920s Harlem, to New Orleans’ French Quarter.
Working cooperatively, Black Dot Artists Inc, Village Bottoms Neighborhood Association, Village Bottoms Community Development Corporation and Ecocity Builders all share the belief that in order to achieve long-term sustainability, a comprehensive and integrated approach is needed. If successful, this cooperative model could guide a transition of Oakland’s built environment into a new regional vision of economically, environmentally, and socially healthy “urban villages.”
They have entered into a partnership agreement to support each others efforts and to help advance the vision of a neighborhood sustainable cultural district in the Lower Bottoms Neighborhood of West Oakland.
The history of the neighborhood and of the people, as well as the vision for the future is outlined in the Village Bottoms Cultural District Plan [PDF]. Current projects include the Village Bottoms Movable Farm and Cultural District [PDF].
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