The Organic City is some kind of awesome hybrid of mapping software and community blog. Or something. Clearly, I don't understand the technicalities, but I can tell you that the heart of the site is an interactive map which you can click on to hear, read, or watch stories based in corresponding Oakland neighborhoods. Part of the charm is the brevity of the stories – each small enough to give you a flavor, an impression. This home movie of bird-chasing at Lake Merritt is one of the best examples. I can almost feel my Oakland childhood in some of those shots. (Although mine was probably much less-hip than the little girl in the clips - her name is Song, and actually, I even knew another kid named Song when I was growing up here!) There are also some fine videos of Oakland history walking tours. William Wong, who has his own great Oakland Chinatown History site is a featured 'tour guide'. Here's a clip.
In a similar vein is Deep Oakland. Also organized by neighborhood (but including a wider range of 'hoods), and with a beautiful interface, Deep Oakland includes stories, photos, and audio clips. There are some real gems – particularly the interviews with long-time Oaklanders. My favorites so far is the snipped of an interview with Lewis Mahlmann, the now-retired master puppeteer at Children's Fairlyland. If you haven't had the chance to take in a show at Fairyland, here's a taste – with Mahlmann voicing the greedy Oswald Bear (warning: intense moralism ahead):
Next up: local history zines!