Design Dash was a program led by the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC) that cultivated six resident-led creative projects in West Oakland, California. Community-based project leaders were paired with a designer or artist to help envision and shape a revitalization project along with $1,000 in funding to execute it.
West Oakland has long been a center of systemic exclusion. Once a thriving African American community, it is now a struggling area due to historic redlining, an intrusive highway system, pollution from the Port of Oakland, and dilapidated infrastructure. Just north of downtown, the area finds itself sandwiched between gentrification hotspots as a result of the housing crisis in the Bay Area. However, there is a strong group of artists and creative people who have led amazing grassroots projects in this community. EBALDC sought to empower residents and artists alike through services such as leadership training, individual guidance, affordable housing, meal services, and more. Through community organizing they helped convene residents to decide on community priorities and activities.
Design Dash was able to produce successful projects such as a mural with a series of portraits of seniors on the senior center fence, and a pop-up library project which consisted of a fabricated wooden mobile structure that would give away free books. One of their projects led to a “paint the town” project that engaged more than 50 residents to beautify the dangerous, poorly marked where residents had been struck and killed by speeding cars. Leaders created t-shirts and produced a video to bring awareness that the intersection was dangerous. As a result, the city was convinced to transform this giant intersection and developed plans to add five crosswalks and ramps to create safer use by residents. The development plan for the intersection would take some time, and so the city allowed residents to paint directly on the street. A musical themed mural was chosen because it speaks to the legacy of the neighborhood and all the amazing artists who have grown out of and performed in the historic building at the intersection.
Property Type: Open Space
Project Type/ New Use: Art – Large Scale (e.g. Sculpture; mural), Art – Small Scale (e.g. painting; performance; visual)
Project Purpose: Community engagement; Improve safety
Initial Cost: Unknown
Funding Source: Unknown
Organization Type: Nonprofit - Other
Implementation Partners: Artist(s); Public agencies
Community Type: Urban
Contributions By: Daniel Egusquiza