Rachelle Annechino is a research associate at the Prevention Research Center at PIRE and a recent graduate from the School of Information at UC Berkeley. She also works with the Center for Digital Storytelling. Rachelle is a regular contributor to Ethnography Matters, an ethnographic research blog focusing on human experiences in context. You can find her at surrogatekey.com.
Following the raid on Occupy Oakland a couple weeks ago, I was struck by the vacuum left in my downtown/uptown Oakland neighborhood, where protesters had been camped out for weeks. All that remained of Frank Ogawa Plaza was a lawn strewn with shredded protest signs. What remained from the raid was a mere space – some empty benches, a lawn in close proximity to City Hall, a mess to be cleaned up – but Oscar Grant Plaza was a place with its own cultural practices and a fledgling community that interacted with the larger neighborhood.