After the Ghost Ship Fire, Looking Back on Thirty Years in the Warehouses of Oakland
As cookie-cutter condos rise around us, we need DIY community spaces now more than ever.
Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images
The fire arrived as news, like any other news these days: elliptical, and mostly based on rumors circulating on social media. A fire in a warehouse in Oakland, still smoldering when I woke up and opened my laptop and began scrolling through reports. At first it was unclear whether anyone died, but too soon my gut clenched as I understood the reality. Many, many people are gone, and many still missing. And it wasn’t just any warehouse; it was one of the many collective live/work spaces that have been havens for artists and musicians in Oakland for decades. Nearly three decades ago, I became one of those artists.
My family has lived in Oakland for a long time, over a hundred years on my father’s side. But I didn’t fall in love with the city until I returned to it after my first year of college in 1990, in the wake of my father’s death, unmoored and miserable.
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