Former Prisoners Could Find Opportunity in Ambitious West Oakland Project

From a trash-strewn vacant lot in West Oakland a group of community leaders hope a “field of dreams” will sprout in an ambitious plan to develop an enterprise to give people coming out of prison a chance at a better life.

Led by former Black Panther Party chairwoman Elaine Brown, the group of organizers, business leaders and investors hopes to have work on an urban farm in the vacant lot at Seventh and Campbell streets started in the next few months.

The lot, across from the post office and surrounding the abandoned Western Service Workers Association building, today is a dusty garden of scattered weeds, abandoned tires and broken glass lined by graffiti-covered walls and rickety fences looped with barbed wire.

But in the run-down lot the founders of the newly-formed nonprofit Oakland and the World Enterprises, Inc. sees not blight but opportunity for convicted criminals trying to find their way after prison, and a future for the once bustling neighborhood.

Read more…