October in the Bay Area signals many shifts: students head back to school; it's the month we're most likely to experience temperatures resembling "real" summer; a certain up-and-down baseball team somehow worms its way into the postseason.
With the lion's share of major music festivals in our rearview mirror, fall is also the time when smaller fests and community-oriented parties really shine. And there's none, perhaps, that's seeped in fierce local pride quite like the annual Life is Living Festival, which takes place in Oakland this year on Saturday, Oct. 8.
Now in its ninth year, Life is Living sees West Oakland's DeFremery Park transformed into an admission-free party with a purpose, in which workshops on social and environmental justice, youth access to arts education, and a celebration of this oft-misunderstood neighborhood all come together against a backdrop of live entertainment by local hip-hop artists and poets from Youth Speaks.
This year's fest promises to be a special one: October 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party. The lineup reflects that theme, kicking off with free breakfast at 10am in the "Food Justice Wellness Zone," and culminating with Oakland's reigning hip-hop radicals The Coup headlining the main stage at 5pm. Other can't-miss appearances include a Prince tribute from Ryan Nicole and Soul Mechanix; traditional Senegalese, Congolese, Haitian and West African dances all day in the "Africa in Oakland" stage; two different sets from Azariah Cole-Shephard, aka Oakland's 2016 Youth Poet Laureate; live theater from the Bonfire Makers; and a kids' zone hosted by Emily Butterfly.
Also: after years of locals referring to the park as "Little Bobby Hutton Park" to commemorate the young Black Panther shot by police, the City of Oakland last month officially dedicated a portion of the park as "Bobby Hutton Grove." The rest of October will see a plethora of Black Panther-related events around the Bay Area; watch this space for more.