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Poet Kristin Palm collaborated with Jeremy Liu, Hiroko Kikuchi, and DataCenter on Oakland: Observatory. The project invited Oakland residents to map their neighborhoods by creating writing and artworks based in detailed observations. Workshop participants worked together to identify what they could see, smell, hear, or feel in their neighborhoods. DataCenter’s participation brought a social justice lens and framework to the project. The collaborators intended to build shared visions for changing neighborhoods by putting community knowledge at those visions’ center. This project began as a collaboration with East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC), but was switched (with the Fund’s permission) to DataCenter, when EBALDC’s leadership changed.

Throughout the spring and summer of 2013, the project team conducted pilot workshops at housing centers and public libraries. They honed their curriculum–considering how the work could enhance community organizing. They also connected with West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, which uses a participatory research models to explore ways that low income neighborhoods are disproportionately impacted by pollution.

While much good work was done, the project’s culmination–publication of a book–did not occur. Kristin Palm had to leave the Bay Area to care for an acutely ill family member and, ultimately, relocated to Michigan. A portion of the grant was returned to the Creative Work Fund.

Kristin Palm’s writings focus on community, memory, and environments. She holds advanced degrees in both creative writing and urban planning. Hiroko Kikuchi combines conceptual and performance methodologies in Fluxus-inspired instruction work and performance art. Her solo performances have been presented internationally. DataCenter is a national research and training center serving social justice movements and community organizing.