Building Community: Flavors of Oakland

What makes your community stronger?

What makes your community stronger? We recently posed that question to our patrons after the violence in Charlottesville and posted their responses in our branch. It's also a question I've been pondering for a while.

A few weeks ago we hosted Anya Ku and Elazar Sontag at the Dimond Branch for a discussion about the making of their book Flavors of Oakland and shared some of the recipes. After listening to the authors talk it became clear to me that projects like these make our communities stronger.

Anya, a photographer, and Elazar, a writer, began their collaborative project when they were 16 and 18 years old. As part of the project the two shared meals with home cooks throughout Oakland and learned their personal histories. Many of the people they met were immigrants from countries such as Eritrea, Taiwan, India, Vietnam and Russia. Some were born and raised in Oakland. One thing we all have in common is that we all have a story to share. Anya and Elazar learned they were able to break down cultural barriers and share stories by cooking and eating together. The result of this community building project is Flavors of Oakland, a cookbook and so much more. Each recipe in the book is accompanied by the cook's personal story and photographs of the food in various stages of preparation as well as the final product. Anya and Elazar were intentional in making sure they included all areas of Oakland so nearly every neighborhood is represented.

This project is just one example of the many ways in which people come together to build community and to make those communities stronger. What makes your community stronger? I'd love to hear from you! 


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