COMMONS ARCHIVE thrives on the support of many North Oakland, CA organizations, community groups and neighbors.  We acknowledge and honor that North Oakland sits on the land of the Ohlone people, today politically represented by the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe of the San Francisco Bay Area. We recognize the Muwekma Ohlone people past and present who have settled, nurtured and loved this land, and are grateful to live here.

Initiated in 2014 by marksearch, Commons Archive began as part of Kala Art Institute’s Print Public, a dynamic program supporting artists to create interdisciplinary projects that animate public space, build local partnerships, and deepen neighborhood ties. Now in its sixth year, Commons Archive has created: photo and text installations at the Golden Gate Library; skill-building and workshops led by local historians, activists community organizations; and large scale-neighborhood celebrations centering local music, culture and stories.




The Golden Gate Branch of the Oakland Public Library, located at 5606 San Pablo Avenue in Oakland,  is one of I6 neighborhood branch libraries. The Golden Gate Branch has a collection of approximately 41,000 items. Circulating materials are largely of popular interest with a strong emphasis on fiction and jazz music.


Heidi Herrera (on left in photo), an Oakland-based designer, writer, and educator, leads Commons Archive outreach and social media. She recently received her MA in art history from UC Davis. Her multidisciplinary research and writing embraces art history, visual studies, and cultural studies, as well as feminist and queer theory. Heidi began her partnership with Commons Archive in 2018 as a community engagement intern with Kala Art Institute. She now manages the project’s social media strategy, designs visual materials, and supports local organizers to build community networks.


Started in 2007, Phat Beets food justice group "aims  to create a healthier, more equitable food system in Oakland and beyond through providing affordable access to fresh produce, facilitating youth leadership in health and nutrition education, and connecting small farmers to urban communities." They support the community through farmers markets, community edible gardens, youth entrepreneurship and weekly community supported agriculture. We’re grateful to Phat Beets for providing incredibly delicious organic fruit and snacks for Commons Archive workshops and celebrations.


Kala Art Institute, based in Berkeley, CA, is a community art-making hub and artist residency program offering professional facilities across print and digital media. Kala’s mission is to help artists sustain their creative work and to engage the community through exhibitions, public programs, and education. A spirit of exchange and education is nurtured through all Kala’s community programs.

Launched in 2014, Kala’s Print Public program supports artists in creating temporary public art along the San Pablo Avenue corridor, meeting people where they are, on the street, at bus stops, markets, shops, and in the neighborhood, connecting artists and the community. marksearch began Commons Archive as part of the first iteration of Print Public.


PLACE for Sustainable Living is a public serving, experiential learning center that showcases and advocates for urban homesteading, community resiliency, social justice and artistic expression. The grounds include demonstration gardens and educational exhibits, an urban farm, several shops equipped with tools and machinery, and a co-working space. Since 2011 they have offered workshops, gatherings and celebrations to share skills and honor community.



Saturu Ned is one of the co-founders of the newly formed Black Panther Party Alumni Legacy Network. Composed of original Black Panther Party members,  the BPPALN supports the Black Panther Party’s original survival programs for economic stability and freedom. Saturu Ned, aka James Mott, joined the Black Panther Party while attending Sacramento City College in 1968. A longtime educator and community architect, leads skill-sharing workshops about the Black Panther Party for Commons Archive, local colleges and organizations.


The Longfellow Community Association (LCA) began in 2009 when a group of neighbors got together to plant in the 40th Street medians. Neighbors formed an association to better advocate for the community's needs. The LCA's monthly meetings share vital neighborhood and city information, organize social events, and engage in community service. From annual pie and chili cook-offs to organizing blood drives and food distribution, the LCA has fun while building community. During the COVID-19 shelter-in-place, the LCA has adapted creative ways to support neighbors, like virtual coffee gatherings and front-porch happy hours.


Emeryville Historical Society publishes a well-researched quarterly journal focusing on North Oakland and Emeryville early history (late 1800s to early 1900s).  Started in 1988 by a group of librarians, photographers and history buffs, the group continues to produce photo exhibits for Oakland Public Library’s Oakland History Room.  A full collection of their journals, not yet digitized, can be found at the Oakland History Room.


Oakland Wiki is like Wikipedia, but it’s a wiki all about Oakland. It is a free website about Oakland that anyone can edit. There was nothing here when the site was first launched in July, 2012.  All of the content on this wiki has been built by contributors. Through a short training, anyone can learn how to add content. The wiki group holds edit sessions at Oakland Public Libraries.


Since 2000, Oakland-based 'marksearch' has been designing interactive opportunities for communities to publicly share personal histories for empowerment. Cultural researcher, literacy educator and artist Sue Mark is interested in untold, over-looked stories. Partnering with husband Bruce Douglas, an engineer and inventor passionate about repurposing materials, 'marksearch' blends their diverse skills and shared life. 'marksearch' has implemented interdisciplinary projects with neighbor groups, community organizations, historians, urban planners, anthropologists and municipalities throughout Oakland, nationally and across the globe. Neighbor-led walking discussions, sidewalk performances, commemorative plaques recognizing generations' old collective knowledge, collaborative murals and citizen-historian publications amplify and preserve multi-faceted neighborhood narratives.

Kala Art Institute's mission is to help artists sustain their creative work over time through its Artist-in-Residence and Fellowship Programs, and to engage the community through exhibitions, public programs, and education.

Your Oakland Public Library empowers all people to explore, connect, and grow.

This project was made possible in part by a grant from The Creative Work Fund, a program of the Walter and Elise Haas Fund that also is supported by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit

This activity is funded in part by the California Arts Council, a state agency.

Kenneth Rainin Foundation is a private family foundation dedicated to enhancing quality of life by championing and sustaining the arts, promoting early childhood literacy and supporting research to cure chronic disease. Collaboration and innovation are at the heart of all its programs. Its vision is guided by the belief that change is possible through inquiry, creativity and compassion.

Commons Archive is supported by a grant from the San Francisco Foundation.  The foundation is committed to expanding opportunity and ensuring a more equitable future for all in the Bay Area.