Guest Post: Paying Homage To Montclarions

Over Thanksgiving weekend, your blogging alumna decided to appreciate her old neighbors.  It’s easy to pay homage to Montclarions, who have somehow joined forces to create their unique Valhalla.

Top Ten Reasons To Appreciate Your Valhalla

  1. Amazing people — Everyone seems to have an expansive world view or passion they pursue.  No one’s boring.
  2. Food, real food — Remember those great avocados, fused cuisines, and bakeries?   Even non-foodies eat well.
  3. Political spectrum — While the spectrum’s left-of-center, there’s discourse and range.  You don’t notice it.
  4. Local elections — Bless the energy out there, and congrats to Libby, Jean and Jerry.  Some voters might care.
  5. School funding — At least you try to find money to use.  And you try to figure out better ways to spend it.
  6. Debate is good — On any subject, on any day, in the Hills.  Try that debate in places that are, well, more patriarchal.
  7. Protected nature — Yeah, you have done that forever.  When there’s any available land, it’s ready to protect.
  8. Culture anytime — Check out music, art, readings and other events.  There’s almost too much happening.
  9. Disasters anytime — The “gotta prepare” attitude?  Just live well and through a earthquake, fire or mudslide.
  10. Weather perfection — Cool summers and comfy winters are par, and nothing remarkable for all Oaklanders.

Last summer, your faithful blogger left the Bay Area.  The Utah scenery and cultural mores are other worldly!   However Montclair’s Valhalla is more rooted in the real world.  To my old neighbors, take this time to give thanks for your unsung every-days.

Good News and Goodbye

Dear Today in Montclair members,

As you may know, your faithful blogger started the Today in Montclair site on a lark.  There just wasn’t enough coverage about our Oakland Hills and, as this site grew, it started to fill gaps in local reporting.  Over the past couple years, we somehow entered the firmament of Bay Area sites and are here to stay.  This membership site was also established to share events, listings and social posts here and on the main site.

Although we have been a little quiet, the past two months have been all about transition:  handing the keys to Alex Gronke and his team at The Oakbook.  It’s been a privilege to align with this well-known and respected Oakland publication.  We’re excited about what they have begun doing with the site, especially covering more news along with features.

The Oakbook has a thoughtful and reasoned take on what makes Oakland special.  The writers love Oakland, yet aren’t afraid to report good, bad and ugly aspects about the city.  Reporting about the hills was already attractive to Oakbook’s publisher, who coincidentally had written for The Montclarion more than a decade ago.

So why did your faithful blogger bow out?  While I am missing Oakland terribly now, I left California to accept a VP position at a higher-education marketing company.  My role is to lead marketing and product management, and focus on helping schools and students find each other.  While there’s no appropriate way to say good-bye, our transition is complete — and you are in even better hands now.


Debby Richman

P.S.  Please reach Alex anytime.  He’s on this network, and reachable at as well.

Your Interests Changed This Year

At least your online search interests changed this year vs. last year, when we peered into search terms used to discover Today in Montclair, 94611.  The people have spoken!

During 2009, everything we could unearth and share about the Oakland Bay Bridge was hot stuff.  All the changes, disruptions, accidents and new construction captured so many dependents living here.  Next on the list was the local graffiti, which definitely created a depressing buzz when the latest round hit hard:  “SNS” tags, anyone?

This year, the virtual art shows also were very popular.  Pixs from our local sidewalk festival artisans and grade schoolers created the most traffic.  There was plenty of searching for Bert Monroy, who creates photoshop realism, as well as Marisa Muliadi-Kleiber and Janette MacKinlay.

On a newsier front, we covered Oakland Police Officer Murray Hoyle’s funeral and FC Gold and Olympic Soccer Star Tiffeny Milbrett’s appearance – and you keep searching for them today.  By contrast, our top searches were all about Hans Reiser last year, when he fully confessed about killing and burying his almost-ex, Nina.

During 2008, Montclarions were more focused on fires, crime, voting and home values.  A year later, we hadn’t experienced major flames, above-average burglaries, another U.S. prexy election, or more precipitous declines in real estate prices.  Ergo, your interests and searching activities also mellowed out.

What’s stayed the same?  Despite the 2009 recession, you are still shopping online and remain quite tuned into all the places closing or opening in Montclair Village.  You still love your pizza, and that need for the quick and easy feed makes sense.

Finally, we witnessed Hollywood’s hold on our collective zeitgeist.  As proof, Brad Pitt’s plans to film in Oakland created feverish pitch and then died down quickly.  Plus one little Pixar flick, Up, caused an uptick in anything mentioning Fentons Creamery and the Merritt Bakery’s Hamburger Cake – and we expect that to continue forever.

So Many Weekend Activities…

When we hit the weekend, there’s always too much to do.  We all know about catching up on errands, carting around the kids or going out for a bite to eat.  What gets lost in the noise…is Oakland!  We live in the horn of plenty, with so many weekend activities worth checking out.

Over the past season, Today in Montclair has curated events that sound interesting – whether they’re taking in culture, appreciating nature or supporting good works.  You can see them linked as “our social network” in the right-hand column.  You can also read summaries or else subscribe to a feed.

Today In Montclair's Picks

Why bother? After all, we enjoy the East Bay Express, OakBook and other online (and sometimes print) papers as much as the next guy for art, music, movies, festivals and many more listings.  Yet some activities are still missing, like stairway cleanings or neighborhood meetings.  Also the listings are endless, so we pluck events that catch our fancy.

We also hear from you, a lot.  Montclarions want to promote their gatherings and we’re happy to oblige.  Just send a message to your faithful blogger, and we’ll get your announcement live.  Or you can post ’em yourself at our social network as well.

Let’s get back to this weekend. Although we’re past Labor Day, this coming weekend is chock-a-block with activities that make Oakland the place we heart.  The range is kind of startling, when you step back:

After a while, have these goings-on turned into background noise for you?  We think so, and that’s why we feel duty bound to re-acquaint you with the simpler Oakland pleasures – just in case you can find a few hours here or there.

Checking In: Montclair Social Site

We’re checking in with you about Today in Montclair’s social site this morning.  As you may know, this is an adjunct resource to enable anyone to connect, discuss, post or promote things with neighbors.  It’s become a way to keep up with local events or news lately.

These social capabilities are supplied by a company called “Ning,” and we were pleasantly surprised when they highlighted us recently.  They described how we connected between the social site (pictured below) and the blog site (you are here).

Today in Montclair - Social Site

Maybe these social capabilities could be put to even better use.  Feel free to join and post/request any info about lost pets, where to find local items or services, etc.  You may also request baby, dog or house sitters here, promote your yard sales, or anything else.  There used to be a Yahoo Board for these purposes, but it’s defunct now.

Who will see your posts and requests?  They are already available on this blog, just scroll the right hand column and orange buttons.  You can find them on the social site as well.  More importantly, we have noticed that anyone googling will see these links too.

So we welcome all your mundane, everyday contributions.