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Re: “You Don't Know Jack

Hi Max, I certainly understand you're upset with what happened, you have every right to find out who did this to you and settle this within the legal system. But I'm not quite sure why we're holding a trial here on the comments board of the local paper. What is there to be gained by anyone, including yourself, other than further defamation and distrust? Obviously folks here feel very strongly about their neighborhood on all sides of this issue and nobody is going to just go away, no matter what the outcome of this particular issue. Why not take the high road, settle this thing in the court of law you're already in, and then try to heal some of the rifts?

I've only been involved with the Village Bottoms since the summer, when I did the historical research for the plan/booklet that Kirstin linked to above, but I have to say I've been so inspired by the enthusiasm and positive energy brought toward revitalizing the neighborhood that it breaks my heart to see the whole vision on trial. And btw, having read so much of the history of the neighborhood I understand why there's sometimes anger and frustration among African Americans, but that's why having art and performance spaces to process, vent and have a dialog is so important to transform that energy into creative expression.

What's your vision for the Village Bottoms? Why not share it with everyone? I'd be surprised if it is drastically different from what the VBNA and Ecocity Builders came up with. Bike paths? Urban farms (more than one)? Performance spaces? Cultural Center? Pedestrian traffic? Safe streets? You seem like the kind of guy who would really groove on that. I really believe that if everyone were to just move an inch closer to one another, Village Bottoms could be well on the way to becoming the kind of place that people from all over and of all ethnic backgrounds would be psyched to visit. Perhaps you and Marcel could start: Have a cup of tea, unload all the gripes you have with one another, then find the things you have in common. You know, just like Gandhi said: "Be the change you wish to see in the world."

peace & blessings,

Posted by seedplanter on 11/28/2009 at 12:07 AM

Re: “You Don't Know Jack

Amen P.! You really touched on so many of the deeper issues involved here with great eloquence. I hope people can feel the wisdom and care in your words.

Posted by seedplanter on 11/25/2009 at 12:52 AM

Re: “You Don't Know Jack

disinterested3rdparty, the article quotes Raymond Willis saying "that anyone could have sent the racist e-mail because it came from a wireless account that's available to the public at Diallo's Black Dot Cafe." It goes on to say that "the wireless access also was probably available to others in the immediate vicinity." The writer then makes the case against that possibility because it was done at 2:47 a.m. and "thus likely didn't come from the cafe because it isn't open at that hour." The big problem with this line of reasoning is that the Cafe doesn't have to be open for anyone to gain access, anyone sitting in their car outside could just log on. The second point the writer uses to supposedly "prove" that only Diallo could have been the author of the email is an even bigger straw man. In fact, the statement that "the cafe and Diallo's nearby home are in a sparsely populated neighborhood, thereby severely restricting the number of people who could have used the wireless access — and known Allstadt" doesn't make any sense at all. BECAUSE it is the only internet access anywhere nearby, a lot of people from the neighborhood use it, and yes, the password is widely known because it's meant to be available to the community. Even I know it, and I've never even used the internet there. And what does it matter anyway if it's a sparsely populated neighborhood -- all it takes is ONE person who doesn't like Marcel to set this up, which -- again -- was easy to do, and judging from this thread here, there seem to be enough of them, even in the "sparsely populated" neighborhood.

But since you've already made up your mind and somehow apply some really weird logic that in defamation cases there's no need to prove someone guilty but that all you need to do is make an accusation, I won't bother to continue this discussion, since in this court right here, the court of EBE punditry and anonymous internet posturings, the case has obviously been settled. Me, I'm going to wait to see how this plays out in real life where each party will get to make their case and get a fair hearing before making any kind of judgment. See you out on the street, the farms, the cafes!

PS: oh, and lightseeker, I'd love to have an adult conversation with you some time about race in America, but comparing a BlackDot meeting to a Klan rally is not a good starting point for the "adult" part. What's next, a Hitler mustache on Marcel's photo? Anyway, onward, love to all, have fun down thread.

Posted by seedplanter on 11/22/2009 at 5:28 PM

Re: “You Don't Know Jack

disinterested3rdparty, as you say, if you only allow the evidence presented in this article into the court in your head and base your judgment of Marcel Diallo solely on that, then you are clearly not interested in the concept of justice. We've heard from the self-appointed prosecutor here, Robert Gammon, who not only accuses Marcel Diallo of fraud but goes out of his way to paint him as a lowlife scam artist undeserving of our trust because of things like using an artist name or having fallen on hard financial times. As you may have read in some of the comments above, ANYBODY had access to the wifi at Black Dot that is registered under Marcel's name. Think about it: Why would Marcel log into an account registered in his own name to commit an act of defamation that would surely be investigated? Whoever did this should be held accountable, but it is for a real court to decide what happened and who did what when, not the opinion section of the local paper.

As far as "I guess I just don't understand how any of what you are saying is relevant to the subject of this article," that's just disingenuous. You can't have it both ways, disinterested3rdparty, when you dedicate two thirds of your article to drag someone's name through the mud to support a very specific charge you can't expect for people to just stay focused on the specific charge. If you were sitting on a jury bench for this case, wouldn't you want to hear what the other side had to say? At this point you seem to say, "Thank you, Mr. Prosecutor, that Marcel Diallo surely is a disreputable scoundrel, this is all I need to find him guilty." That's not how it works in this country, and if you can't allow the concept of "innocent until proven guilty" in your head, I can't take anything you write seriously.

Posted by seedplanter on 11/22/2009 at 7:25 AM

Re: “You Don't Know Jack

len raphael, part of why a lot of folks (not just Marcel) were angry was that right before the vote was taken on Village Bottoms Farms' proposal Allstadt's associate on the Board announced to everyone that if they did recommend the VB Farms proposal, HUD (the federal funder) would most likely revoke all funding from Oakland's CDBG programs because the Farm was proposing to set up an enterprise that would create jobs to sell produce for a profit. That, of course, is a lie. HUD WANTS to support local job creation and boost local economies through business development. However, the alarmist announcement created visible confusion and a hesitancy among the Board. The proposal was voted down a few minutes later and City Slickers got the grant. Now I personally think City Slickers Farm is awesome and there should be as many urban farms as we can possibly create, not just in Oakland but around the country. But it seems that the vote was taken under a false premise, which I think adds a bit more context to Robert Gammon's skewed account of making Marcel look like he was just a sore loser. There's of course no telling whether VB would have got the grant or not but the proposal was very solid, based on the principles of urban farming and aquaponics with MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant" recipient Will Allen and his organization, Growing Power (check out Allen is the nation's leading expert on low cost aquaponics, a method of growing fish and greens affordably on brownfield sites in a closed loop, stacked system, and members of the Village Bottoms Farm and Ecocity Builders had traveled to Milwaukee to study with Mr. Allen. Now obviously City Slickers Farms has been in existence much longer and thus has a longer "track record" but if that were the only criteria to award grants then no new and promising projects would ever get off the ground. I can't help but think that the folks at City Slickers would be psyched to have more urban gardens sprouting up, we need as many farmers in this city as we can get to feed our communities and so I think it's important to support the ones that are just starting out. But just so you know, the project has been getting off the ground anyway, the farm compost system is up and running with the red wiggler worms getting nice and fat, and the first aquaponics systems has been built. Once the greenhouse is finished they'll be able to add fish to the tanks. Now that's all without any money, just imagine what a bit of grant funds would do. Anyway, there's so much more, you should go down there and talk to the folks sometime, they are very passionate about farming and feeding their community fresh healthy food.

Posted by seedplanter on 11/21/2009 at 9:32 PM

Re: “You Don't Know Jack

The Village Bottoms community IS a positive interactive community who has been very welcoming to me. As a white musician I would love to see an African American Cultural District there. I live in the Mission in SF and I love all the Latino culture and events and I'm always welcomed with open arms. That's how it's been in the Village Bottoms and I think it would benefit EVERYONE if we invested in this community, its cultural roots, its arts and music. It's about so much more than Marcel Diallo or Max Allstadt. It's about creating a neighborhood that is creative and inspiring that people want to come to and visit and bring their business and support to. Please all go down there and talk to some of the kids at the Soulfoods store or the Black Dot Cafe, they are amazing human beings thirsty for creating a very special and meaningful place. You don't have to like Marcel Diallo to support a vision of a neighborhood that embraces cultural history, arts and music. Think bigger: If everyone works together rather than focusing on petty personal grievances there will only be winners in this undertaking.

Posted by seedplanter on 11/20/2009 at 3:55 PM

Re: “You Don't Know Jack

As someone who has got to know Marcel and the Village Bottoms community from working with them on the above-mentioned plan to revitalize this historic neighborhood I have to say that this kind of article doesn't really help anyone and only perpetuates existing stereotypes. There are a lot more people than just Marcel who are working hard on rebuilding the community, and they are some of the most inspiring, gracious and welcoming folks I've ever met. Diminishing this whole issue into a story of personal vendettas and character assassination hurts everybody on all sides of the debate. I like the idea of everyone getting up from behind their computer screens and coming out to meet in public and work out their differences. What I don't understand though is how anyone calling themselves a journalist could write such a blatantly one-sided and sophomoric attack piece without bothering to talk to anyone in the community? Just that whole shtick about Marcel's name is laughable to the point where any objective reader wouldn't even continue with the article. And you're holding it against against him that he's poor and got hit hard by the current housing crisis. Gee, if only he had a trust fund while growing up in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the country, we'd cut him some slack. But no, who on earth does he think he is, trying to get loans to buy and remodel property and revive the neighborhood he and generations of his family grew up in? And that whole email thing sounds just too much like a set-up. For one, I don't think Marcel is that petty or stupid. Also, anyone can log into the Black Dot wi-fi, it's the only one nearby and everybody knows the password. It could have been anybody. The least we can all do is to withhold judgment until somebody is proven guilty. In the meantime, why not come out and be a part of the solution?

Posted by seedplanter on 11/19/2009 at 9:33 PM

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