Peerless Coffee and Tea is an Oakland institution and an unpretentious artisan coffee powerhouse. Family owned and operated since 1924, Peerless has been one of the premier specialty coffee roasters since its inception. It is the house coffee for Gary Danko, Cyrus, Pebble Beach resort, Four Seasons & many others.
The Vukasian family has contributed much to Oakland, with participation in civic organizations such as Chamber, City Council, and Coliseum Board where George Sr. helped bring the Raiders back to Oakland from LA. They have donated to help rebuild health clinics & schools in El Salvador & Colombia after earthquakes, offer a Peerless Coffee scholarship at UC Berkeley, donate to many other causes, and made significant investments and operational changes to become one of the first businesses in Oakland to be green certified (in 2001).
The Joyce Gordon Gallery is a commercial fine art gallery located in the Midtown Oakland Arts district. It exhibits art that reflects the social and cultural diversity of the Bay Area as well as international artists. The aim of the gallery is to respect the creative pursuits of the individual and it seeks to make such work accessible to a broad audience. The gallery has been in Oakland for 7 years, and during that time Joyce has served as a vehicle to let enable the voices of artists of all ages and backgrounds to be heard!
Plaid Friday celebrates the diversity and creativity of Bay Area independent businesses. Envisioned to be the independent business alternative to the big box store “Black Friday”, Plaid Friday is designed to help raise awareness about shopping local and supporting the local economy. Since its 2009 launch, Plaid Friday has received national attention and serves as a template for other buy local initiatives. This grassroots movement was collectively spearheaded by Lena and Matt Reynoso, founders of the Compound Gallery, and Kerri Johnson and Nicole Neditch, co-founders of The Bay Area Visual Arts Network (BayVan).
Glynn Washington is the host and creator of the brand new NPR program, Snap Judgment. Snap Judgment is an Oakland-grown radio show about the decisions people make that change everything. The show captures Oakland’s diversity through storytelling that ignites the emotions and changes policy. Snap Judgment provides a platform for storytellers using a variety of multimedia so that everyone can get their story told.
INatural Home Cleaning Professionals is a green cleaning cooperative. Operating since 2003, it provides 34 Latina immigrants with the chance to
work in a green, safe environment while co-owning their business and earning a living wage. The women receive full benefits and training on environmentally and physically safe cleaning methods and sound business practices as a part of the Eco-Friendly Cleaning Network, formed by the non-profit WAGES.
Ryan Duke is an independent industrial designer based in the Grand Lake neighborhood. His passion lies in the nexus of Person, Product and Place. Ryan has spent most of his professional career working as part of pro bono design teams and with non-profit organizations in Oakland such as St. Vincent de Paul and the International Rescue Committee. In these contexts, Ryan has taken discarded materials and dying crafts, breathed new life into them and created beautiful and functional objects that have benefitted wheelchair users in developing countries, political refugees in the U.S., and women in South Africa. Ryan has also used his design and reuse skills to create furniture prototypes, write construction details and develop a training program in order to provide a valuable skillset and employment opportunities for local community members who are formerly incarcerated, have limited English or have other barriers to employment.
Oaklandish began as a civic pride arts project in 2004 and has grown into a popular clothing and accessory line. They engage with and support programs in the community that are integral to the Oaklandish creed. They don’t consider it “giving back” to the community; it is being a part of the community. Oaklandish community support initiatives include: Oakland Innovators Award Fund, Local Arts-In-Action Grant, and Event & Fundraising Sponsorships. Youth groups make up the majority of the Innovators Award recipient pool, including Town Park skate park, Bay Area Girls Rock Camp, Scraper Bikes, On the Bricks, and East Bay Asian Youth Center. Check out their gear and ongoing involvement in the community at their website.
Owners Giovanna Tanzillo and Lisandro Allende have built a body shop known for its integrity, quality work and customer service, that is also calming, architecturally beautiful and open to the community. Uptown hopes to help naturally distraught customers forget why they came by filling their welcoming
waiting area with tea, classical music, and a library ranging from the playful books of SARK to art and architecture. Uptown is most known in the community because it provides its sparkling clean 400-capacity garage space free to local organizations for fundraisers and art exhibitions. One nominator said that if you go to an event at Uptown, “you will find Giovanna greeting people, picking up trash or helping in some other way. This woman is my idea of a neighborhood hero.”