Health of the Hood: Ivy Hill – Clean, Serene, Not Too Mean

Nathalie Huerta, self-described "Chief of Making Shit Happen," making sure the LGBT gym on Park Boulevard near 7th Avenue is ready for opening on Monday, December 4th. Photograph: Oakland Voices/ Debora Gordon December 2012
Nathalie Huerta, “Chief of Making Shit Happen,” getting the LGBT gym at Park Blvd & 7th Avenue ready to open this month. Photo: Debora Gordon, Oakland Voices 2012.

By Debora Gordon

I went looking for signs of bad news around my neighborhood, such as an absence of fresh food options, or liquor stores or no street lights.

Maybe a strong police presence, trash on the streets, loud music or cars, or unkempt parks.

I had to look pretty hard, because my Ivy Hill neighborhood is pretty much clean and serene. I found mostly well-kept homes, tree-lined streets and quiet and calm on a Saturday afternoon.

The only real trash I saw was collecting around a sewer at the intersection of Park Boulevard and Seventh Avenue.

There are two convenience stores that sell liquor but they also sell produce, baked goods, and household goods, though I do not vouch either way for the quality or price of these items.

I found three massage parlors within a three-block stretch, and a few instances of random graffiti and tagging.

There were three abandoned storefronts, two along Park Boulevard and one at East 24th Street and 11th Avenue.

Beyond this, there is not a lot of obvious degradation or blight.

I saw no boarded-up homes or other signs of foreclosure.


There were no groups of people loitering, and in the past three-and-a-half years that I have lived there, I have heard no gunshots, cries for help or sounds of violence, nor have I seen signs of car windows being smashed or other vandalism.

When I looking for signs of good news, in contrast, I found signs everywhere of a neighborhood very much not in distress were everywhere from the tree-lined streets to the community garden on Park Boulevard to a brand new LGBT gym opened on Monday, December 4th. 



This store at East 24th Street and 11th Avenue has been abandoned for months. Photo: Debora Gordon, Oakland Voices 2012

When I saw the proposed gym on Saturday afternoon looking very much not ready for prime time, the self-described “Chief of Making Shit Happen,” Nathalie Huerta assured me that both heaven and earth would be moved for the 6:00 a.m. Monday, December 4th opening.







The view from my window is beautiful, and streets are clean and clear of debris except for fallen leaves.

A few blocks away, the entrance to Bella Vista Elementary School looks inviting for students and visitors. 

Oakland is probably full of hidden gems like Ivy Hill, where the residents lively in peaceful harmony.  Alas, this rarely makes the news but probably should be held in contrast to the usual litany of homicide statistics, reports of failing schools and critiques of the mayor’s office.

Colorful tree-lined streets add to the feeling of peace and beauty in my Ivy Hill neighborhood.
Photo: Debora Gordon, Oakland Voices 2012
Author Profile

Debora Gordon is a writer, artist, educator and non-violence activist. She has been living in Oakland since 1991, moving here to become a teacher in the Oakland Unified School District. In all of these roles, Debora is interested in developing a life of the mind. “As a mere human living in these simultaneously thrilling and troubled times,” Debora says, “I try to tread lightly, live thoughtfully, teach peace, and not take myself too seriously.”

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