There are more than 3,000 local jails in the United States and another few thousand courthouses. In some people’s eyes, these institutions are monuments to public safety; to others, they represent the forces driving mass incarceration. This fall, a building will open in Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood that hopes to become a different sort of community landmark, dedicated both to keeping the community safe and to breaking the cycle of poverty and imprisonment.
For years, the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, a local nonprofit focused on community-building and reducing incarceration, and the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC United), which fights for fair wages for restaurant workers, collaborated to develop the concept for Restore Oakland, a nonprofit hub and community center. In a 20,000-square-foot building catty-corner from the Fruitvale BART station, Restore Oakland will house local organizations and provide job training and housing assistance. A fine-dining restaurant called COLORS—whose staff will include formerly incarcerated people—a café, and a kitchen with space for entrepreneurs to run incubators will open on the ground floor.