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San Fran tech types: what you need to know to move to Oakland

Well, before I went, I thought it was going to be fun.  An invite to a Tech Stars-sponsored book party, specifically for Tech Stars alums and friends of the author, in Emeryville right on the Oakland border, at a loft that an Oakland start-up founder lived in. As a Tech Stars alum (co-founder, People’s Software, class of 2008), who recently launched a local tech site, the event seemed perfect: go reconnect with other Tech Stars alums, learn more about this new book, which was a thriller set in the Boulder, CO tech start-up community, and meet the author, who’d returned to Oakland after a spin at Tech Stars Boulder and time as an Entrepreneur in Residence at a venture fund. Dude invited me to come, I accepted, and the plan was to swing by the loft, grub some Arizmendi pizza and Linden Street Brewery beer, say hi, and then head out out to the rest of my Friday.

The first fifteen minutes at the invite-only party were good: I eyeballed the lavishly casual loft with the amazing bathroom and the vintage fruit crates in the kitchen holding piles of linen napkins, introduced myself to the smiling young author/guest of honor, and  laughed when I saw the immense stacks of pizza boxes, all holding Arizmendi pies and the dudes shovelling pizza in–at Techstars Boulder, I’d eaten so much pizza during evening programs I later quit for a couple years.

I took a slice of pizza from a man passing a box around, surveyed the crowd, and thought about how to plunge in.

“Hey, do you know the folks who live here?” I said to the late-twenties-ish guy next to me in an rakish pork-pie hat.

“No, not really,” he replied, and turned away to get a beer.

“You have a web site? Do you hire photographers?” another young man standing near me said, and then we chatted for a bit about photography, San Francisco and how he now came to Oakland all the time before we exchanged contact info.

By the time photog guy and I were done, the room was full of people: guys in t-shirts that said Box and Stack Overflow, many with well-trimmed beards and nifty leather shoes, young women with shiny hair and excellent designer glasses. There were even two dogs, one a black poodle, the other a pitbull-ish mutt, that waited respectfully for bits of the pizza to drop before diving for them. I thought that the folks at this party were spiffier than the guys photographed waiting to ride the Google buses south from San Fran to Silicon Valley every day; their nice shoulder bags suggested they wanted people to know they’d been successful at making things happen.

“Great, I want to meet some company founders,” I thought as I circled the crowded room a bit, looking for folks to connect with, but it didn’t go well.

I have strong social skills, but in this crowd no eyes were met, no conversations broadened, no greetings proffered, no smiles given. These young men were busy talking to each other, and they had no side eyes for me.

And the few women in the group, chic dresses and nice sweaters, were no better.  I might be a person with good social skills, I might be a Tech Stars co-founder, a media entrepreneur, etc. but I was being looked past, made invisible. For these folks, most of whom looked to be white and 26-35 ish, I pretty much seemed to be a person of no interest to anyone there, something I hadn’t experienced in a while.

And that was the moment I decided to make my way across the room to try to find someone to talk to one more time.

There was a woman in the far corner I thought  looked interesting, one of the few people (like me) past 50 in attendance at this gathering.  She had wise eyes and a cool smile, and I thought she might turn out to be the CEO of a neat tech company, maybe one operating right here in Oakland.

So I made my way across the room, through the bustling crowd, to this mature lady who looked friendly. “So what brings you here?” I said when I got to her, after we exchanged greetings.

“Oh I’m Eliot’s mother,” she replied. “The author.”

And then I got it. The Mom thing.

I was at a book party for Tech Stars founders and friends in Emeryville and because I was over 50 and didn’t look like the young ones, I’d been profiled by them as a Mom, a Mom just like their Moms.

It was the “Mom wouldn’t possibly get it “ thing young male founders do when they talk about making their products easy to understand, but they were applying it to me while I was right in the room –based on how I looked to them I was seen as a person who was not cool and would not get what they were talking about.

I also realized that now that I’d moved into the Mom corner of the party and was chatting with the real mom of the author/Tech Stars alum, my chances of talking to anyone there about their company, their experience at Tech Stars, or any of the other things I’d gone there thinking I’d talk about (like finding founders to profile for Live Work Oakland) had likely dropped to zero.

If these folks were judging me–and classifying me–by my age and how I looked, chatting with Eliot’s Mom had just confirmed all their impressions and I would be ignored even further, so I slipped out.

And when I got outside the nice loft, and stood for a sec watching the guys play soccer after work in the park across the street, I thought about what it felt like to be so invisible in a crowd I’d thought I’d belong in.

And I thought about how in Silicon Valley, as Catherine Bracy so brilliantly pointed out, women make 49 cents on the dollar to what men make, and almost no investment goes to founders who are African-American.

And I thought about the growing network of Google and Yahoo buses picking up their workers in West Oakland and on Market Street, and I started to feel like I had to say something to these mostly white, mostly male, clearly privileged start-up folks who were now starting to show up in Oakland.

I wanted to tell them–Dudes, are you really so young that you really you think everyone with access to capital is a white guy who looks like you, only maybe ten years older?

 The people with the investment capital in Oakland are women (many over 50), African-Americans, and Latinos  (think DBL Investors, Claremont Creek Ventures, Kapor Capitol, Base Ventures, for starters).

And do you think your insular thing is going to fly in the Oakland scene?  You’re now in a place where entrepreneurs and founders of all ages, races, sizes, genders, sexual preferences, and yes, economic classes, are seen and supported as part of a growing tech ecosystem. So, WTF?

When tech folks from other places–Silicon Valley and San Francisco in particular–come into my city and join me and my friends and colleagues already working here–I’d like them to have the good sense to chill out and become more open like us and less closed like where they came from.

I’d like them to be committed to providing return on investment and profitable exits to their investors, since money is what motivates so many people today in tech, but I’d also like them to care about providing jobs to people in Oakland, not just their buddies from elsewhere.

I’d like them to start companies that build products that solve problems and create value, not just be a bunch of men with incredibly expensive degrees building tools to fix their own problems, or the 100th version of something someone else has already patented (and funded.)

 And yes, I’d like them to see me, over 50, needing to loose a few pounds, and female.

And most importantly,  I’d like these young dudes coming to my town to actually see ALL the people coming up in tech in Oakland around me–the many Black, Latino, queer, female, and trans folks who, like all of us, show up in so many different ages, styles, and sizes, but who have a place, just like the white bros do.

And  if these new folks coming into Oakland can’t see the folks who are already here, can’t change, I’d like them to just get the F* out of the way and take one of those corporate buses right back to where they came from .

What we want to build in Oakland isn’t just another corridor for tech, easing the shortages and expense in Silicon Valley and San Francisco, it’s a more inclusive tech ecosystem, one that lacks the clueless hauteur and insularity of bro culture.

Yes, the Oakland tech scene is starting to take off, but that doesn’t mean we want to swap out what we have begun to create for the bad behaviors of bigger tech communities.  Rockbot co-founder Garrett Dodge–whose company is expanding in Oakland- recently told a reporter, ”the sense of place here isn’t about tech–it’s a sense of  community with our friends,” and that’s the way I hope the growing Oakland tech ecosystem rolls. 

As a city with a history of supporting labor, strong African-American leadership, an amazingly diverse workforce (170 different languages spoken here!), and one of the largest queer women’s communities in the Bay, Oakland can meet the need for accessible real estate and offer a talent pool for growing software and advanced manufacturing companies without becoming as insular as Silicon Valley or as arrogant as parts of San Francisco.

And we can do it by including everyone who has the skills to participate and wants to work in this new economy, not just the people that a bunch of young white men expect to be talking to–because, in Oakland, we’ve got a wide variety of people doing the work-and we’re not leaving.

Image from book launch party, March 28,  from @JamiLiM, https://twitter.com/JamiLiM/status/449749547602821120/photo/1

Editor’s update, March 31, 12 noon: Brad Thorson and the Techstars team asked us to point out that this party wasn’t really officially a Techstars event, and that, actually, part of the disconnect was that most of the folks in attendance at the party were friends of the author (which suggests they were there to celebrate, not to network).

Susan Mernit

Susan Mernit is editor & publisher of Oakland Local (oaklandlocal.com) a news & community hub for Oakland, CA. A former VP at AOL & Netscape, & former! Yahoo Senior Director, Mernit was consulting program manager for The Knight News Challenge, 2008-09; was a 2012 Stanford Carlos McClatchy Fellow; and is a board adviser to The Center for Health Reporting at USC, Annenberg School of Journalism. She has consulted with many non-profit organizations on strategy, product development and social media/engagement, including Salon.com, TechSoup Global, Public Radio International and the Institute for Policy Studies/Economic Hardship Reporting Project, led by Barbara Ehrenreich.

36 comments

Steve Kopff - March 31, 2014 Reply

Amen! We don’t want to turn into another SF. We need businesses to move into Oakland and set up shop here. But we need to do it differently than SF- we need the businesses to invest in our communities and it’s people so that we all can share in the prosperity.

Naomi - March 31, 2014 Reply

This is perfect, Susan

Pam - March 31, 2014 Reply

You go, girl!

Frank - March 31, 2014 Reply

Susan, what you experienced at the party has nothing to do with the tech world and everything to do with our society in general. Women over forty are invisible in our society. I’m sure this is not the first time you have noticed this. It’s not right and I’m sorry to hear of your unfortunate experience, but to attribute this behavior to just the tech industry is a stretch. Heck the tech industry has a problem with women of any age.

I understand the tension of lot of Oakland to the coming wave of tech people invading our city, but as I said before, what you experienced would happen at just about any party, in any industry, with mostly young people. You and me are older and sadly devalued, but its always been that way and not just in the tech sector.

Susan Mernit - March 31, 2014 Reply

Frank, I disagree. It may amaze you, but I actually haven’t had experiences like this because I am over 40 and I think that turning it back on me is a red herring–don’t you think everyone-especially in what was touted as a networking party for a book–should have some basic social skills and kindness? I do–and I bet you do, too.

Andrei Soroker - March 31, 2014 Reply

Hi Susan,

I’m taking the picture in the photo above.

I immigrated to SF in 1994 with zero English – from Russia, with my parents and sister. We sold our apartment, so we had $16K to get us started. We were on food stamps for about 5 months, before my mom found a job (she is a biochemist). My parents bought a house in Oakland in 2002. I bought a house in W. Oakland in 2006. I founded my company last year – after 10 years of contributing to the US economy as a software engineer – and managed to get VC money to get it up an running. Out of 7 Kato employees 3 are in their 20s, 2 in 30s, 1 in 40s, 1 in 50s, and 1 in 60s. Kato is based in W. Oakland. My wife and three kids are black.

Be careful who you put up on your blogs to represent the typical San Francisco tech douchebags.

Andrei

Suzanne - March 31, 2014 Reply

really value the message you’ve expressed here. Thanks, Susan!

Susan Mernit - March 31, 2014 Reply

@andre– you write “Be careful who you put up on your blogs to represent the typical San Francisco tech douchebags.” I never used the word douchebags and I posted a picture-with permission–actually taken at the party. I went to the party as an alum and a media entrepreneur, because I thought it was an opportunity to meet folks like you, who have great tech companies. Obviously, that didn’t happen for me. I would be really sad if you thought the experience I described here–and my wish for a more equitable tech scene in Oakland, meant I was against tech, software development or coding. As a former product developer who ran product and revenue optimization for Yahoo! and banged my head against the wall in a messaging/social start-up, I’d have to hate myself to feel that. But I WAS dismayed to be overlooked so dramatically–it’s actually something I have not experienced in Oakland before.

Deena Lahn - March 31, 2014 Reply

Thank you for writing this! I work in a non profit in a building in San Francisco that has been upgraded and now mostly serves the tech sector. I can’t know what is going on in their minds, but I observe their behavior, – which is that everyone else who works in the building (non profits) or for the building (janitors, etc.) isn’t even worth making eye contact with. I am sure that there are individual exceptions, of course, but as a whole the group appears to have no interest in any one not of their demographic and certainly not in women over 50 . I used to feel grateful that they kept our city economically viable, but recently I feel displaced from my own home. San Francisco wasn’t always like this, and you don’t want Oakland to become like this…..

Eliot Peper - March 31, 2014 Reply

This article contains numerous factually incorrect statements in addition to being as poorly researched as it is insulting. As a born-and-bred local Oakland writer and lifelong evangelist for the city, I’m deeply hurt by Susan’s words. Check out the other side of the story here if you’re interested in knowing the truth:

http://www.eliotpeper.com/2014/03/thankful-angry-sad-confused-and.html

Susan Mernit - March 31, 2014 Reply

Eliot–I understand you and your friends weren’t trying to be unpleasant. As I said on your blog post, I did say hi to you at the party, I met your mom and her sister, and thought they were terrific. But saying that my experience is factually incorrect and inacurate is itself inaccurate. And I don’t know how one researches attending a book party.

Basically, you’re telling me that because you feel bad about what I said, I must be a liar, because what happened to me, in your view, can’t be true.

Dude, this is the height of privilege and you’re the only person who’s communicated with me about my experience at this event, publically or privately, who suggested that my experience was “inaccurate” in some way.

Sadly, there is no truth–there are people who go about their lives and learn from the experiences they have. #ownit

Andrea - March 31, 2014 Reply

@ Susan: I’m confused as to why you had such a hard time speaking with people. You say you have strong social skills, can you share how you used them to try meet the people you refer to as ‘dudes’ there? Did you try to speak with the women at the party as well? The launch party was a celebration of publishing a book, and friends, family as well as tech star alumni attended to join a simple celebration of the publication of the book. There was nothing else to it (there was a photo contest if we want to get technical here).

When I read your article, I get the impression that the room was full of ‘dudes’ when my personal experience at the party was very different: the crowd was diverse, interesting and I always got a smile! I spoke with an Indian CEO of a start-up (woman), I spoke with a German woman who lives in North Oakland and works at an Oakland clean energy company, I spoke with a store owner who runs her business in The Mission (yet another woman) and I shared travel stories with a local resident from Rockridge who was well into his 60s and spoke Spanish with an excellent accent. I met people there from Oakland, Emeryville, San Francisco, Palo Alto, San Diego and even Sacramento. I thought it was great to be with a diverse group of people who simply wanted to get together and congratulate the author on his first book.

As far as facts go, I agree with you, personal experiences cannot really be inaccurate. However, I also wanted to point out that you did not get all the facts straight: one important one, for example, is that the author is not a Tech Stars alumnus. Regarding the dogs, I’m pretty sure one of the dogs was a Portuguese Waterdog, not a Poodle.

Full disclosure: I’m Latina, I immigrated to this amazing country in the mid-90s and worked very hard to learn English, to attend college and to build my professional life in the United States. I recently moved to Oakland from Southern California (where I have felt extremely welcome) and I will be marrying the author of the book, Eliot, in a few months.

tinfoil hattie - April 8, 2014 Reply

That’s pretty f-ed up that she got the dog breed wrong. Good on you for calling her out on this!

Say, how old are all the fabulous people you met?

RC Hunter - March 31, 2014 Reply

I’m an AA male and software developer. I’ll join the chorus of folks thanking you. What you observed is something that I have had to deal with since the first tech boom. I lived in Temescal in the late 90’s when my fellow developers were reluctant to cross the Bay bridge, even to attend my own birthday party…in Temescal! After the tech crash, like many others, I relocated. I chose the Denver/Boulder area. I worked at an agency that actually hosted an early TechStars. Since I was a little bit older, I experienced the same invisibility from the young “entrpreneurs” who were given resources for ideas that weren’t all that impressive to me. Now I’ve returned to the Bay area, only to find that their numbers have grown. I couldn’t wait to get back to Oakland. Only, imagine my surprise when I saw the “new” Temescal. and the “new” Uptown Oakland. and the changes in West Oakland. The idea that Oakland has been “discovered” just turns my stomach. And these guys think they are just going to “bulldoze” into Oakland and flaunt their privilege throughout the East Bay? Good luck with that. They need to contribute to the communities that they’re moving into. And stop being so damned self-centered. I do not dislike All young white male tech pups, just the ones that think the world revolves around them.

Jerry West - March 31, 2014 Reply

Susan: Thank you for the excellent article. As good journalism tends to do, it talks about circumstances and experiences far beyond an afternoon party. In particular, it talks also about the milieu in flux of our community. The “G” word has been a hot topic of discussion in Oakland for several years now. In part it is the pushing aside of existing community structures and organizations, but in also the rather forcible injection of new values, mores and standards. These changes have predictably raised ire in the established communities and neighborhoods. The unconscious sense of judgment, entitlement, supremacy, arrogance, and “still-wet-behind-the-ears” self importance reeks from too many of these newbies. I applaud their mastery of coding, establishing systems to make money, pushing into undiscovered worlds, but dude, step outside of your safe clique on occasion and be part of a larger society. You are not the only star in the universe.

Adam - March 31, 2014 Reply

I was the host of this event. I did not meet Susan because she never introduced herself to me and having opened our doors to 50+ people (many of them strangers) – I was not able to personally introduce myself to everyone that was there. Needless to say – Susan, if you felt it important to meet the hosts you could have tried a bit harder. I have my Master’s Degree in Urban Planning and have focused on community engagement and development for over 9 years. My finance is fighting the battles of being a female CEO in a male-centric tech community. Her company Elihuu is helping manufacturers increase their business by easily connecting them with entrepreneurs that need manufacturing services – ultimately leading to more manufacturing jobs. We just moved to the East Bay from Denver. Seems like we could have been some of the people you wanted to speak with if you wouldn’t have judged the entire group based on a couple of bad conversations and left with such bad opinions. Or maybe because we just moved to the East Bay we are automatically terrible people that wear too much hair product and don’t have the time of day for anyone else….

Some of the previous posts and a lot of Susan’s rhetoric speaks about Oakland’s history, diversity, and the fact that it is a very unique and cultural city – inclusivity. Inclusivity is not judgments. It is about taking time to have conversations, listen, build relationships, build trust and allowing multiple sides to move forward as one unit. During times of change, it is hard for longtime residents to see vast changes happen overnight. There is a sense of earned entitlement that “newbies” cannot come in here and take over what was built by the community in the past. “newbies” cannot have a sense of entitlement that says just because they are here now that a starbucks and whole foods should be next in line. But reality and history should teach us all that compromise usually makes both sides as happy as possible. Respect is needed – it is also earned and not a given.

Susan, I believe that you shared your opinions in a fashion that ultimately will fuel the fire of what you are describing. If you want to be accepted by other people – then you need to be accepting of them. If Oakland does not want “SF Techies” to take over the East Bay – then Oakland residents need to set aside a bit of their pride and realize that it has already started. If you meet your new neighbor with open arms and help guide an education of what your community is like – I trust that you will help to build a stronger community. If you judge everyone that moves to town – or everyone at a party and silo them into buckets of stereotypes then you are in for one hell of an uphill battle – and good luck, you will need it.

What was it that learned a few years back… oh – if you don’t have anything nice to say – don’t say anything at all…. no that wasn’t it. oh ya – treat other people as you would like to be treated….

And – yes, the dog was a portuguese water dog and the other dog was not a pit bull (why that would matter) but a boxer/lab mix – and neither of them are allowed to eat pizza :)

We were happy to host Eliot and help celebrate his new book with a diverse group of people from SF, the east bay, and places around the world. We were happy to share food and drinks with men, women, old people, young people, gay people, straight people, tech people, and people that were as far removed from that seen as possible.

Congrats to Eliot – that is the true takeaway of the evening.

Susan Mernit - March 31, 2014 Reply

Adam, I would have loved to have met you and your fiance. I did come to the party to meet people. However, it’s concerning to me that there’s an implication I did something wrong. I was at the party for a good while and seriously found that no one under, say 50, was making eye contact with me. And as I said, I found that odd. And I am sure that no one meant to overlook me and that if I had run up to someone and buttonholed them and tried to talk, words would have been exchanged. But would that change the fact I wasn’t able to make eye contact or verbal contact as I circulated?

I don’t know what stereotypes I put people at the party into–I talked about their behaviors, not who they are–since I was unsuccessful in meeting folks that night.

I do notice that not a single person who was at this party has publically–though some did privately–said, “Wow, I feel sorry you felt excluded, that wasn’t my intention at all.”

Instead, there’s this huge effort to say “It’s not us, Susan–it’s you.”

Rather than pass blame back and forth, I’d like to think this is a chance to move on and be more thoughtful. I’d be happy to meet you and your fiance–I asked someone at the party if you two were present, because I wanted to meet you–and the person said you weren’t there.

Shannon - April 6, 2014 Reply

Susan,

I haven’t said this publicly yet because I just stumbled across this. But I AM sorry I didn’t meet you. I think I knew 4 people in the whole place. I spent the majority of the night meeting new people. Yes – I sometimes stood around for a few minutes hoping for eye contact that didn’t materialize. But I didn’t feel that it was people avoiding me (I’m a woman north of your referenced under 35 demo) – I felt it was because everyone was engaged in conversation, and no one else was glancing around the room like I was. Sometimes I just resorted to hovering and forcing my way into a conversation. It wasn’t elegant, but I don’t believe anyone held that against me.

At the end of the day, it sounds like you felt excluded. I never got the impression that anyone was intentionally excluding me, and I would have happily chatted with you (although as someone not in the tech startup world I may not have been someone you were looking to engage with). I hope that one unsatisfying party does not forever sour you on this group.

tinfoil hattie - April 8, 2014 Reply

“Shut up and be nice. Women aren’t allowed to criticize or have negative opinions.”

Kam - April 26, 2014 Reply

Wow, this was a whole bunch of smug and entitlement.

Laura Dambrosio - March 31, 2014 Reply

Hi Susan and readers, I was also at the party. Susan, unfortunately sometimes we tend to look outwardly to address internal issues. You have admirable goals in supporting diversity, but your attempt to relate them to a casual book launch party–which, contrary to what your chosen image suggests, was reasonably diverse–kills your credibility.

Especially when you’re trying to be clever.

“dudes shovelling pizza” = pizza was served at the party

“young women with shiny hair and excellent designer glasses” = women were there, some with glasses

“I was being looked past, made invisible” = I was not making loud noises, nor drawing attention to myself

To be fair, there are parties at which your statements might hold up. But this wasn’t even close, which tells me you’re just fishing for gratuitous “yeah, you tell ‘em!” comments. I hope you can learn to identify the difference between your own shortcomings and those of others. Maybe next time, say hi and we’ll have a nice conversation!

Susan Mernit - March 31, 2014 Reply

Thanks for ‘splaining me. I needed that.

reggie - March 31, 2014 Reply

This whole article is stupid. You kept saying “my town” and then talk about people destroying the community. You don’t own this town nor does any tech company. Fuck the tech industry. Dont compare this disconnected tech party vibe. How dare you compare this little moment of insecurity you got to how the rest of Oakland feels. This community is more about art, music, expression, social justice, racial struggle, powerful uprising and showing the rest of america how to fight for the community you live in. You and the people you are talking about can leave. Oakland has culture that can never be measured or counted by a computer. You and the rest of the techies can go back to silicon valley and while you are there you can go fuck your self! Oh, and take the burning man people with you!!!

Brian Donahue - March 31, 2014 Reply

We’re great, you suck. San Fran sucks and so does Reggie. Eliot’s great and Susan sucks. Black people and tech people suck. Oakland sucks and Laura’s great but Adam and Eliot both suck. Fuck you’s to Oakland Local, San Francisco White people and Tech Stars. People over 50 are great!

brokeland - March 31, 2014 Reply

Editor’s update, March 31, 12 noon: Brad Thorson and the Techstars team asked us to point out that this party wasn’t really officially a Techstars event, and that, actually, part of the disconnect was that most of the folks in attendance at the party were friends of the author (which suggests they were there to celebrate, not to network).

"Person of Color" - April 1, 2014 Reply

This post and all the comments have shown me that White folks have problems too.

Pizza Shoveler - April 1, 2014 Reply

Normally I’d take the time to address why the author made me so mad and why she is misguided, but it’s pretty clear that (a) the handful of people who read this blog have already commented and the headline alone was just retweet bait for people who want to blame tech workers for everything wrong with everything in Oakland, and (b) there is no argument that would make Susan change her mind that she was intentionally snubbed by a bunch of privileged, ageist, sexist, homophobic, white, colonialist, neo-imperialist, patriarchial oppressors. The hosts seem like nice progressive people with serious Oakland cred who love this town and are genuinely mortified someone would accuse them of marginalizing someone, but Susan has made up her mind.

You can’t even invite people to a party in your own goddamn house now without someone questioning whether you deserve to live here. This whole post makes me want to stay quiet around strangers and try to avoid the sanctimonious twits who think they have any right to tell me where to live, where to work, how to run a business, or how to throw a party if you don’t want to ruin Oakland.

PS – Props to Reggie for reminding us that white women are hugely privileged, and that it’s shameful to complain about a cliquey book launch party when kids in East Oakland are worried about walking to school without getting shot

PPS – First person to write the blog post “White Women in Non-Profit Work: What You Need to Know to Not Go Through Life Resentful of Everyone Around You” gets a pizza

PPPS – The dog was a Yorkshire-Grayhound mix, the girls were wearing sunglasses, and the pizza was actually gluten-free calzones

Susan Mernit - April 1, 2014 Reply

I am really amused how people who were at this party have so much trouble accepting any responsibility for the behaviors I experienced that I am a being portrayed as a crazy lady, have issues, etc. This post is trying so hard to be inflammatory, but it’s actually coming across as more of a childish rant, sorry.

tinfoil hattie - April 8, 2014 Reply

White dudes hate, hate, HATE having to anything besides being white dudes.

Pizza Shoveler - April 1, 2014 Reply

No, I agree completely: your post was trying really hard to be inflammatory, but it came across as more of a childish rant about people at a party not paying enough attention to you

Ric - April 1, 2014 Reply

Bravo, Susan for pointing out what should be obvious.

I run a tech company in Oakland, and think Oakland SHOULD be the next big tech hub (note all the vacancies around City Center). And, you’re right, residents of Oakland are far and away more open minded and chill.

Stevo - April 1, 2014 Reply

Susan, I support you. This movement is killing Oakland. All of these white privileged smart ass hipsters are NOT going to change MY city! They all need to leave and take there crap music and stupid clothes and beards and vegan food with them. Let Oakland be what it IS and what is was born to be. DIVERSE. COMMUNITY. Not ruined by some smart people who JUDGE us indigenous original residents. WE own this city, WE started this city, WE OWN this city. These dudes need some real welcome to OAkland if you know what I’m saying. This is the REAL Oakland: http://youtu.be/pvTEBYgGjvk?t=25s WELCOME to OAKL@ND:

Patricia - April 4, 2014 Reply

Susan, Perhaps you are going through menopause and the hormones make you particularly sensitive and irritable. This is not an insult in any way, it is a fact at our age. I know this 50th birthday thing can be difficult (as I am approaching mine in 2 weeks) and so can be the estrogen low. Or maybe there is another explanation but you simply got this whole article and the facts of the party wrong. The people and situations you describe in your article are not at all what Eliot Pepper and Andrea Castillo are about.

I am a personal friend of Eliot’s fiancé and I know the author as well and some of the guest at the party. Our age difference has never been an issue for any type of interaction… from intellectual conversations, to travels in south east Asia, to entertaining together, parties, talks on books, etc. The author, Andrea and their social group are actually an amazing example of generosity, kindness and deep respect for cultural diversity, individual freedom and humanism. I highly recommend you take time to meet Eliot and Andrea, see their life story, the partners they have chosen for their business and life adventures… and then write a more accurate profile as they both can be a source of tremendous inspiration and role models for up and coming younger people in Oakland or anywhere. And an immense source of pride and hope in the future of humanity for those in our age group. Honestly one does not need many social skills to interact at a party hosted by Eliot and Adrea beacuse they have lots of social skills and they are atractive, talkative, fun, smart people. If nobody talked to you at the party… Susan ask yourself something (honestly) if among all those people of all ages, colors, genders ( yes, there was gender diversity as well), social standing and nationalities….. nobody wanted to talk to you. Do you think it was you? or them? They all seemed happy meeting each other.

Tracy B - April 5, 2014 Reply

Haha. A “diverse” tech gathering of all ages (25-35), all colors (of hair, on an overwhelmingly white crowd) and genders (of still mostly white people between the ages of 25-35 who are actually still mostly very straight), and you really want to blame noticing how insular they are on menopause? Wow. I hope Susan knows you personally and that when she sees you again, she dispenses with the niceties and punches every one of your teeth out of your head for this condescending insult. Your lies about the social dynamic among these invaders and their intents are nothing short of Orwellian. These “up-and-coming” young people are here to exploit economic disparities, pure and simple, regardless of how they and you position their activities as inspiring, kind, and respectful. Already the rents and property values are pushing the working class and poor further onto the margins of society. That’s inspiring, that’s generous? To whom? Oakland needs a moral economy, not more of the same thinking that’s made SF a mecca of pricy mediocrity. “They all seemed happy meeting each other.” Yes, we’re all sure they did, and that’s the point, silly. But that nonsense of cultural exclusivity isn’t wanted here. Let all the pretty white visionaries ride their privilege into an adventure far from here, back to whatever dump they crawled out of to work their magic of tech solutionism there. You like ‘em so much? You go with them. (Oh, by the way, if you find yourself itching to pen a tut-tut response to my post, be warned: I can do this all day. Gentrification affects me personally, so apologist b.s. like you’re peddling? Not gonna fly. Seriously. But try me out if you want. Up to you.)

keith - April 5, 2014 Reply

“Susan, Perhaps you are going through menopause and the hormones make you particularly sensitive and irritable. This is not an insult in any way.” The author HAS to be joking, right? I wasn’t there, I just happened upon these posting, and if YOUR post is an example of inclusion and understanding, yikes.

tinfoil hattie - April 8, 2014 Reply

Hysterical woman! It’s probably hormonal. You know, “the change.” Or “the PMS and the mood swings,” as Marc Rudov so eloquently put it once upon a time.

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