We’re kicking off this week’s event roundup with a reminder that the next installment of Culture Makers, our quarterly live-event series, is taking place this Thursday, June 22, at 6 p.m. The theme of the event is Oakland youth, and I’ll be in conversation with three young people making a big impact in our city: Oakland Kids First organizer Ixchel Arista, Oakland Tech basketball state champion Erin Sellers, and YouthALIVE! peer educator Xavier Tillery. We’ll also have a live performance by up-and-coming East Oakland rapper Paris Nights. 

Are you an OUSD alum? Show your pride! Come dressed in your school colors or team gear to rep your school!

If there’s an event you’d like me to consider for this roundup, email me at azucena@oaklandside.org. If there’s an event that you’d like to promote on our calendar, you can use the self-submission form on our events page.

Pablo’s Alley happy hour summer series

A vendor at last year’s launch of the Pablo’s Alley summer series. Credit: Oakland Central

Every third Wednesday through October, Frank Ogawa Plaza will transform into an outdoor market with local vendors and live performances. This summer series, now in its second year, aims to support vendors at the plaza and other businesses in the surrounding area by drawing in passersby and people who work downtown. The series kicks off this Wednesday with DJ sets from Good Peoples—a Bay Area-based collective of DJs founded by Brayo and Koko, and Dr. Sax, and an afro-dance choreography by Nigerian American, multidisciplinary artist MIKO.

Wednesday, June 21, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., free to attend, 1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza

Town Nights

Town Nights take place every Friday through July 21, 2023. Credit: Town Nights

Now in its second year, Town Nights—an initiative of Oakland’s Department of Violence Prevention—kicked off last Friday with several family events at rec centers and parks across town. Each event is hosted by a trusted community organization, like Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice (CURYJ), and offers a place where friends and families can gather safely to listen to live music, participate in activities, get free food, and even win prizes. Last week, the City Council’s Public Safety Committee voted unanimously to extend the Department of Violence Prevention’s current contracts and grant agreements with community-based organizations to continue Town Nights and other activities through September 30. But the future of the program is in question, with the department’s budget set to be cut under Mayor Sheng Thao’s proposed two-year budget. The council will vote to finalize the mayor’s budget later this week.

Every Friday through July 21, free to attend, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., see website for locations 

Live in the Laurel

Clockwise: left: Anaís Azul, Arnoldo Garcia, and Keenan D. Webster. Credit: Courtesy of the Laurel District Association

Residents and visitors alike can listen to live music, dine, and shop in the Laurel District during Live in the Laurel, a music series where local artists perform at businesses along MacArthur Boulevard between 35th Avenue and High Street. This weekend, Peruvian singer-songwriter Anaís Azul will perform at the retail shop Beast Oakland, musician Keenan D. Webster will bring his West African sounds to the art gallery RBA Creative, and guitarist and poet Arnoldo Garcia will appear at World Ground Cafe. 

Saturday, June 24, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., free to attend, various locations in the Laurel 

Insect Discovery Lab

An Insect Discovery Lab event at the Brookfield branch last summer. Credit: Doug Zimmerman

Are you looking for summer activities for your little ones? Look no further than the Oakland Public Library. This weekend, members of Save Nature, a wildlife preservation organization, will be at the Melrose and César Chávez branches to teach kids about the vast and diverse world of arthropods and the role these critters play in our daily lives. The Insect Discovery Lab events will continue at other branches on different dates through July 19.

Saturday, June 24, 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., free to attend, Melrose and César Chávez public library branches

Citywide Peace Summit at Laney College

Dr. César A. Cruz of Homies Empowerment 1
Dr. César A. Cruz of Homies Empowerment poses for a photo inside of the grassroots org’s office and learning center in East Oakland. Credit: Amir Aziz

Cesar Cruz, co-founder of Homies Empowerment, Antoine Towers of YouthALIVE!, and Oakland rapper Kamaiyah are among the panelists who will be in conversation with Rev. Zac Carey of True Vine Ministries at the Citywide Peace Summit. The event is being organized by the Oakland Prevention Coalition—comprised of individuals and local groups affected by and working to prevent violence—so that victims of crime can have a space to talk about potential solutions to violence in Oakland. The information and recommendations gathered at the summit will then be presented to City Council. 

Saturday, June 24, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., free to attend, register online, Laney College, 900 Fallon St.

Azucena Rasilla is a bilingual journalist from East Oakland reporting in Spanish and in English, and a longtime reporter on Oakland arts, culture and community. As an independent local journalist, she has reported for KQED Arts, The Bold Italic, Zora and The San Francisco Chronicle. She was a writer and social media editor for the East Bay Express, helping readers navigate Oakland’s rich artistic and creative landscapes through a wide range of innovative digital approaches.