Story Share: Longfellow Community Association

Saturday, Feb 22, 2020

Hip Hop Juice Box
3960 Adeline Street
Emeryville CA

How does neighborhood culture both remain intact and evolve?

Neighbors, many who had just met that Saturday morning, came together at the Hip Hop Juice Box to share and learn. This was the first of several deep-listening circles we convened in February. Commons Archive is rooted in supporting community resilience and creating opportunities for deep listening is one way to do this.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it feels like we’re in a state of suspended animation. But it wasn’t too long ago that our daily pace left little room for neighborly conversations. Bringing neighbors together in small groups to preserve stories on the verge of disappearing supports cultural sustainability. Now more than ever we need to lean in to support our neighbors and our immediate communities.

Read here to learn more about Commons Archive’s new effort to generate block-by-block phone trees.

"We come together to maintain our legacy"

Darlis, following her parents and her grandparents before them, is one of the leaders of the long standing '900-Block Apgar Group'.  While they do have earthquake and community safety teams, building fellowship has always been their focus. Neighbors on this tight-knight block regularly care for elders, cook for those in need, and help out with home improvement projects.

For generations, this North Oakland micro-region, now known as Longfellow, has had block clubs. Back in 2009, a group of neighbors began to meet regularly to care for the 40th Street medians. This led to the creation of the Longfellow Community Association (LCA), that advocates for the community’s needs. From annual pie and chili cook-offs to organizing blood drives and food distribution, the LCA infuses building community with joy.

"I wanted a place for our community."

Located where Oakland and Emeryville overlap, Hip Hop Juice Box is a newcomer to North Oakland’s food scene. With original murals and DJs regularly spinning, the spot has a casual club vibe. Featuring creative smoothies and cafe treats, Eric Turner launched the cafe in 2019. But he’s had the project in mind for a long time:

"'Growing up, there were no healthy options to eat. When I was younger, I went to the gas station and got chips or went to McDonald’s,' Eric said. 'I wanted a place for our community... Somewhere to listen to music, talk about different hip-hop albums.'"

Honoring Eric’s hip hop heroes, the cafe features fresh squeezed juices and smoothies with names like 'Bompton', 'Beets by Dre' and 'The Chronic'. The cafe provides jobs for local folks who want to work in the food industry. Eric continues to put the community first during the COVID-19 pandemic with curbside service. Read more about Hip Hop Juice Box’s origins. Thanks Eric for hosting this Longfellow neighbor story share!