Oakland’s heartbreak

Like many, I was devastated by the news out of Oakland this weekend. Dozens confirmed dead after a massive fire at an artist’s live-work warehouse.

I didn’t know anyone, personally, but there were friends of friends—people whose communities overlapped with mine. Artists and creative spirits looking for a place to experience music and ideas, company and good conversation.

Oakland’s heartbreak is our heartbreak, too.

So many of us have been a part of such scenes—Sacramento has been home to similar spaces over the years. It’s home to them now.

I’ve been to shows and art exhibits and poetry readings at these places, I’ve stood shoulder to shoulder with old friends, admired the creativity of strangers and hugged new friends at the end of the night. Watching scenes from the rubble on TV, I couldn’t help but think, “That could have been me—that could have been someone I know.”

This heartbreak hits so close to home, geographically, personally, creatively and spiritually. It also raises myriad questions about affordable creative hubs and housing, safety and liability, city and business culpability.

It will take time to come up with solutions that provide safe, affordable spaces for outsider communities, artists and audience alike.

We must pursue those solutions. We must challenge those who, knowingly or otherwise, endanger lives by ignoring risks and taking safety shortcuts.

It’s everyone’s responsibility—landlords and the city, artists and audiences—to do everything in our power to never let such heartbreak happen again.