On July 30th, Wolfman Books closed its doors at 410 13th Street for the last time. Days before, several former staff members, collectively known as Wolfemme+Them, gathered together to say goodbye to the space. But as we burned candles and recounted memories of the community we fostered during the store’s lifespan, we found ourselves asking: what if 410 13th Street didn’t have to stay closed? What if downtown Oakland had a truly BIPOC-led community center?
We shared our dreams of a space full of books by Black, Indigenous, brown, queer, trans, revolutionary, local, and youth writers; a space for literary events where young and emerging writers can share the stage with their mentors, a space for poets and musicians to co-conspire with community organizers; a space for a zine library, a gallery and artist studios; a space for education and activism, plus herbal medicine, free groceries, and resource distribution; a space that prioritizes uplifting and supporting Black folks born and raised in Oakland and the Ohlone people whose stolen land we live on; a space that can shift and grow, ever-expanding to center BIPOC and QTPOC needs, wants, visions, and dreams.
With this goal in mind, the collective formerly known as Wolfemme+Them has officially secured the lease to 410 13th Street. We are launching as a brand new cooperatively run community center for creative collaboration and organizing.
We believe it is absolutely vital as BIPOC and QTPOC that we have a physical space for connecting, building, dreaming, and learning. But in a world still ravaged by racial capitalism—and particularly as BIPOC and QTPOC artists / arts administrators / service workers / organizers who are currently unemployed or underemployed due to COVID-19—we must rely on our communities for financial support to fund the startup costs of opening this space.
Building is going to cost:
One year’s rent: $19,200
One year’s utilities (power, garbage, wifi): $2400
Inventory: ~ $5000
Renovation / furniture / office supplies / etc: ~ $4000
We are officially taking over the space beginning August 15, and hope to be open to visitors and collaborators—with strict social distancing and cleaning guidelines in place—as soon as local COVID stats make it clear that it is safe to do so.
Through this time of upheaval, there are many possibilities for powerful alchemical change. In the ruins of neoliberalism, we can build the abolitionist dreamspaces we need to thrive. We can learn from each other, feed each other, and protect each other here and now. If this is a vision you share, please consider contributing to our fundraiser campaign!
(We are particularly calling on white people and non-Black POC to contribute funds, and only if they can afford to do so in addition to regular contributions to fundraisers for Black trans folks, local bail funds, etc.)
We are five former members of Wolfman Books. We are seeking other QTBIPOC collaborators, with priority to Black Oakland born/raised artists, writers, and organizers.
Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo (she/her/they/them) is a Black, queer artist, activist, educator, storyteller & curator who is now based on Powhatan land (Richmond, VA), after living in Oakland for ten years. Through the processes of story collecting, printmaking, painting, performance, sculpture building and curating, they strive to re-create and re-tell their personal tales and those of the people that surround them. Lukaza was the Visual Arts Editor of the New Life Quarterly, published by Wolfman Books [Oakland, CA] and just released their second art book, We Are All Speaking At The Same Time, published by Endless Editions [New York, NY].
Samantha Maria Espinoza (she/her) is a queer, salvadoran and mexican artist born and raised in Denver and Los Angeles, originally and always Tongva and Arapaho land. She is a printmaker, teacher, organizer, and former Event Coordinator and Zine Consigner at Wolfman Books. Her background is in arts education and has taught youth formally for 6 years in printmaking, painting, design, textiles, leatherworking and other craft arts. Her art and community work are intended only for BIPOC and QTPOC folks, and she intends to continue this work while learning and uplifting other marginalized communities that have come before and will remain after her.
Tara Marsden (she/her) is a queer, mixed filipinx writer raised on Nisenan land (Northern California). She was a founding editor of New Life Quarterly, an arts and culture magazine published by Wolfman Books, as well as the co-editor of New Body, a collection of creative art criticism, with curator Emilia Shafer-Del Valle. She is the organizer behind hyphal network, a BIPOC-centered autonomous learning community focused on environmental justice and decolonization.
Sophia Schultz Rocha (they/them) is a trans nonbinary, mixed colombian filmmaker, photographer, and arts worker born and raised on Calusa and Seminole land (West Central Florida). They are an organizer providing mutual aid for food service workers in the Bay Area during COVID-19. They are also a member of CTRL+SHFT Collective, a women, non-binary, trans, 2S, and queer led exhibition space and studio collective.
Jevohn Tyler Newsome (he/him) is a Black poet, illustrator, and arts/culture worker born and raised in Inglewood, CA on Tongva and near Chumash land...With jazz and other artifacts of the Black imagination as his main motif, Jevohn creates work that seeks to build minor universes and counteract all psychological attack against the African-diaspora. Jevohn is currently developing a literary and visual art/media operation called SupermarketPoet Press, which centers the power of collaborative storytelling projects.