Saturday, January 19, 2008

in motion

One of the more challenging parts in teaching kali is simply finding a space to teach and practice. As each space has a different layout, vibe, energy, you learn different lessons from each space. Lately, it seems like the things I learn from each space change each year as I often find myself these last two Januarys looking for yet another space, both due to consequences and due to a feeling it's time to move on.

I checked out one space last week, a dance studio in Oakland. It was a very beautiful floor and building, well lit and all with a buzzer and gate. But it was also in a decently rough area of Oakland. And while they assured me that their building was safe, and I imagine it was, it was more the idea of having to drive there and back, and not just me but for my students.

Despite the publicity of Oakland's violence, Oakland neighborhoods are interesting in that even in some rather rough areas there are wonderful buildings that feel like an oasis. A remodeled Victorian, this lovely dance studio, a pocket neighborhood where everyone knows each other. All very wonderful places. But it's always what's happening down the street.

Being born and raised in Oakland I'd like to think I'm being fair about my assessment of this neighborhood. And that robbery that left a boy paralyzed happened in what's considered a very safe neighborhood where people walk their dogs and such, so really violence can happen anywhere. But it's not a good sign when my street radar starts going off. I currently teach in Downtown Oakland which can be a desolate place at night, but I've never felt unsafe. But this place, my radar was going off during the day.

In some of the roughest places in Oakland, people really do know their neighbors. And during the boom I watched alot of people not from those neighborhoods buy homes in North Oakland and the like. And they marveled at the convenience to the freeways and the charm of the old Victorians. And at one point I was almost convinced to buy there. A few years later many of these same people have moved out especially after their honeymoon with the neighborhood was over and violence and robbery started hitting much closer to home.

I'm not sure where my class will end up. I'm still looking for a place. I don't want to cancel class, but at the same time I can't be pushed into picking a space that doesn't meet all of my criteria. I'll just have to wait. I'll just have to keep looking.

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