Every Saturday for the past three months, volunteers with the Adams Point Neighborhood Group have been working on a beautification project along Grand Avenue, the main thoroughfare in their district.
Identifying the neighborhood's heavily used city-issued curbside trash cans as needing a makeover, the group applied for funds from the Keep Oakland Beautiful Program, sponsored by the city's Public Works Agency.
Now, covering the sides of some of the containers are distinctive mosaic tiles. The spruce-up is a definite improvement.
Zach Seal, a transportation planner and four-year Adams Point resident, took me on a tour recently, showing off the half-dozen or so receptacles that have been worked on. He explained that volunteers were looking to enhance the pedestrian experience for people walking along Grand.
"We applied for the grant to pay for materials -- tile pieces, mortar and grout. We received training from a tile artist named Roberto Costa, who previously helped other Oakland neighborhoods with similar mosaic projects," he said.
Group members came up with the tile designs. "People seemed to especially like the one we did near the entrance to Lakeside Park at Bellevue," Seal said. "We chose symbols of Fairyland for that one."
Further along Grand, we saw one, almost finished, showing a Canada goose, certainly one of the more familiar symbols of the lake. "For each container, the prep and installation takes several
New volunteers are signing up as well, he said.
"We even have an email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, and also a Facebook page, if folks want to help us beautify more trash cans."
The group holds monthly meetings at the historic Bellevue Club, a landmark built in 1928 overlooking the lake, to chart the course for future projects.
The Adams Point neighborhood has an interesting history. Edson Adams, born in Connecticut in 1824, was the area's first resident. He married Hannah Jayne, Oakland's first schoolteacher, in 1850. Along with his associate Horace Carpentier, Adams plotted and incorporated the town of Oakland on land belonging to the Peralta family. The courts would later have to sort out the legality of what happened.
The district just north of the lake was where the Adams family staked their claim.
Edson Adams died in 1888, and his civic engagement was carried on by his son, Edson Jr. He donated land where the Veterans Building/Senior Center now stands. What is now Lakeside Park was set aside for public picnic grounds where, after the 1906 earthquake and fire, refugees fleeing San Francisco stayed in temporary tents. Homes and apartment buildings north of Grand began to appear in the 1920s and '30s.
Applications are being accepted for the next round of Keep Oakland Beautiful funding; the deadline is Sept. 30. If you have an idea for your neighborhood, go to the KOP page on the city's website, www.oaklandnet.com, to learn more.