City of Oakland
(Last Updated On: July 17, 2019)

“These creative minds working with our city government will help us develop new solutions to old problems,” said Mayor Libby Schaaf. “The Cultural Strategists pilot program moves us closer together as a community, and reminds all residents that in , everyone belongs.”

Cultural Strategists-in-Government are thought partners who understand that sharing their cultural knowledge is a way of serving their community and the greater community of .

Elena Serrano – Department of Transportation

Hodari Davis – Department of Transportation

Michelle “Mush” Lee – Human Services Department

Rosesharon Oates – Human Services Department
Rosesharon is a visual artist, restorative justice consultant and holistic health educator. Rosesharon will work with the Human Services Department to design a creative holistic element to the second cycle of ReCAST ( Resiliency in Communities After Stress and Trauma), where the mission is to build resiliency and equity in communities that have been impacted by high levels of violence, trauma and civil unrest.

Sabereh Kashi – Mayor’s Office on Housing Security

Sabereh is a documentary filmmaker passionate about her community members having equitable access to safe, affordable, and stable housing in . She will work with the Mayor’s Office on Housing Security to encourage dialogue amongst community members about Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs or “in-law units”), share knowledge and inspire property owners to consider the positive community benefits of building ADUs, while developing answers to real questions around the process.

The pilot program began with a call for applications and three informational workshops in early December 2018. More than 50 applications were received before the January 7 deadline. Submitted Cultural Strategist applications were reviewed by Cultural Affairs staff together with the partnering department. In February 2019, eleven finalists were interviewed by a combination of staff from the Cultural Affairs Division and partnering departments.

While initial plans called for the engagement of five Cultural Strategists, strong interest by leadership in the Department of Transportation and the Human Services Department resulted in both of those departments sponsoring one additional placement each.

For their individual engagements, each strategist will receive $10,000. The funding for this program came from a special one-time appropriation by the City Council in the Adopted FY 2018-19 Midcycle Budget.

The CSIG program is one of two pilot initiatives launched as first implementation steps of “Belonging in : A Cultural Development Plan” that was adopted by City Council in July 2018. The other pilot initiative, Neighborhood Voices grant program, resulted in the award of $80,000 in grants to eight -based nonprofit organizations to lift up seldom-heard voices in our neighborhoods by supporting the expression, recognition and understanding of the array of diverse communities that make our city unique, vibrant and resilient.


By Jane Dixon

Jane Dixon is new to blogging in Oakland, but loves The Town!

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