How to get a 40-year ball rolling when you've only got 36 years left

When Mayor Libby Schaaf agreed to partner with the Oakland FabLab network and commit to the global Fab City initiative, we in Oakland immediately had our work cut out for us. We needed to make Fab City ideas relevant to the Oakland community. We knew we would need to develop strong partnerships. We knew getting to Oakland 2054 would require significant changes in several areas.

We heard from the Fab City global team that we would need to chart our own course in this work - they didn’t have a playbook for these efforts that we could follow.

Elevator Works stepped up to meet this challenge. We started by writing an initial brief on Fab City, which identified three priority work areas: Equity, Entrepreneurship, and Education Integration. We included current immediate challenges: a crisis in housing, an aging skilled workforce, a need to de-incarcerate our citizens and include them in this effort, thriving construction, cannabis and food production industries, Bay Area and Oakland tech industry access. This brief attracted some seed grants to continue the work, and allowed us to form a decision-making body. We recruited and formalized our 2019 board, with E.W. CEO Sal Bednarz serving as board chair. We recognize that our Fab City board will need to grow, to reflect the truly diverse makeup of Oakland, and to represent the needs of strategic partners and funders that emerge in our early work.

Elevator Works built and manages the web presence for Fab City, including a blog and email newsletter which highlights the work of local and global partners. We facilitate regular communications with board members and other partners. .

This early work has led us into several key initiatives in 2019, in education, local policy, community engagement, and housing. The Elevator Works team continues to manage and coordinate these efforts, build strategic partnerships, and lead fundraising activities. We will also conduct several Fab City events in 2019, on a range of topics, with various local partners, and in several locations throughout Oakland/

We see the Oakland Fab City program as truly and deeply complementary to our own mission, and are committed to its early and continuing success.