Monday, July 1, 2013

Non-Profit Roundtable learns about Oakland’s Hidden Gems

Several times each week, a half dozen or so dedicated residents of and/or workers in Oakland, armed with nets, gloves, claws and several large garbage bags, stake out their territory and begin the highly beneficial act of removing trash from Oakland's historic Lake Merritt. These individuals come on their own, in couples or small groups. Some of them represent the membership of the Oakland Chamber of Commerce, like the sixth graders of St. Paul's Episcopal School ( who have been cleaning the Lake every Thursday afternoon during the school year for more than 15 years.
They are guided by Dr. Richard Bailey, Executive Director of the Lake Merritt Institute(
the non-profit organization charged with maintaining the health of the Lake.

While Oakland's beloved Lake is one of the City's most well-known landmarks and opportunities, the City boasts dozens of lesser known, and sometimes, even hidden gems, like the Lake Merritt Institute. At its June 18th meeting, the Oakland Chamber's Non-Profit Roundtable heard from several of these incredible organizations and how the non-profit, private and even public sectors can utilize them and create collaborations.

Jennifer Wong, Administrative & Marketing Director of Kinetic Arts Center
(, invited attendees to check out her company’s unique approach to fitness, fun and community building. Recently opened in West Oakland, Kinetic Arts is Oakland's unique fitness and circus arts center. The facility offers summer camps for children and classes to kids of all ages in juggling, acrobatics, (static) trapeze, contortion and clowning as well as dance and pilates. The eclectic range of opportunities can be further utilized as team building events (such as a recent Oakland Rotary juggling workshop), or as an opportunity to host a fun party. There are even performances. Wong also notes that several world-class circus acrobats rehearse routines or simply use the facility to keep in shape.

Celebrations on the Bay ( is Oakland’s charter cruise service. Owned and operated by Greg and Sharon Schuyler, Celebrations is a two-deck, riverboat style vessel. The two decks are comprised of a fully enclosed and climate controlled lower deck and a partially enclosed upper deck (with canopy for the winter months). Amenities include room for a band or D.J. and dancing. The boat is wheelchair accessible with deck level boarding, full bar service and state-of-the-art sound system. The Schuyler’s have a list of catering partners and are willing to customize a unique experience for their clients Cruise options for 40 to 100 persons include lunch, dinner or cocktail cruises, corporate events, weddings, other special events, and, of course, fundraisers. For those more skittish on the water, one can use the boat as an event facility at its dock (at Jack London Square). Celebrations also offers public cruises on a variety of themes throughout the year.

The New Parkway (, Oakland’s most recent big gem, opened in the Uptown district in late 2012 and is making quite a name for itself as a specialty movie house, pizza parlor, and event and community center. HR & Outreach Manager Destiny Webster shared that as the New Parkway is still in its formative stages, there are tremendous opportunities for non-profits and companies to take advantage of and even design new programs. The enterprise, which shows second run movies (at $6 per ticket) and special runs (of various prices), boasts two theaters with unique forms of seating (145 and 125, respectively) and a lobby/community space with a rotating art gallery. Webster notes that the establishment is seeking visual artists to showcase. Currently, the theater hosts non-profit events every Sunday afternoon. These events could be a fundraiser (movie, promotion, auction) or merely a screening of a particular film. The venue also features a state-of-the-art sound system and commercial kitchen.

Located on 14th Street between Castro Street and Martin Luther King, Jr. Way, the African American Museum and Library of Oakland ( is a distinctive branch of the Oakland Public Library System. As shared by Rick Moss, the library’s director, the AAMLO is a non-circulating, reference library with an extensive archive that includes a collection of approximately 12,000 volumes by or about African Americans; the diaries of prominent families, pioneers, churches, social and political organizations; numerous newspapers and pamphlets; and an extensive oral history collection. As a museum, the space showcases several exhibitions. The AAMLO holds book signings, public programs and other special events, has its own volunteer friends association and is an available event rental space for up to 200 people. Guided tours for small groups through the exhibits are also available. Oh yes, and the library and museum, are free and open to the public.

 Following the presentations, the 25 attendees shared their own Oakland Gems. In addition to the expected Farmers’ Markets, First Fridays Art Murmur, regional parks, Chabot Space and Science Center, USS Potomac, Children’s Fairyland, incredibly diverse neighborhoods and world-class zoo, other gems recommended included the newly completed Remember Them monument (next to the Fox Theatre), Port View Park (on the farthest western point of the Port of Oakland), Morcom Amphitheatre of Roses (off Grand Avenue near the Piedmont border), Thursday night pirate sing-a-long in the pub of Quinn’s Lighthouse (on Embarcadero), Joaquin Miller Park free movie nights, Spice Monkey (on Webster) fourth Wednesday game nights, and the Julia Morgan-designed Chapel of the Chimes (at the end of Piedmont Avenue).

Our conclusion is that for individuals, non-profits, families, private companies and visitors, Oakland is a fantastic place full of treasures to explore, play, learn, experience, share and partner with each other.

Special thanks to Iryna Oreshkova of Iryna CPA ( for bringing the treats, and Dale Marie Golden of Torrey Pines Bank (, Celebrations on the Bay and Kinetic Arts Center for bringing door prizes.


* * * * *

The next Oakland Chamber Non-Profit Roundtable meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 18, 2013, from 2:30-4:30pm in the Chamber Boardroom.

Co-Chair Âna-Marie Jones, Executive Director of CARD (
Co-Chair Jerry Metzker, Development & Marketing Manager of Biotech Partners (

Chamber Liaison Nikki Mendez, Membership Director (


Labels: , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home