Black and blue room with a table, chairs, and television at Restore Oakland

Restore Oakland

Located in the Fruitvale District of East Oakland, Restore is the first center for restorative justice (RJ) and restorative economics in the United States. ROC United will have its first Oakland restaurant on the ground floor, where individuals will be trained for front-of-house jobs and businesses from low-income communities of color will be incubated. Restore will also serve as a hub for the Ella Baker Center’s initiatives to end mass incarceration and provide dedicated space for Alameda County’s RJ programs.

DJDS worked with Restore Oakland LLC to locate the project site and negotiate the purchase and sale agreement of the property. Through a series of design workshops with partner organizations, DJDS developed a design and renderings for fundraising. The DJDS team then provided full architectural services for the project through construction.

Cause

Restore Oakland addresses three problems: (1) the need for dedicated space and infrastructure to support restorative justice and restorative economics in cities; (2) the need that Bay Area nonprofits have for stable, affordable office space and/or ownership of their own space; and (3) space that is shared among multiple social justice organizations both spatially and operationally.

Restore Oakland was designed to meet the needs of Oakland communities for trauma-informed building designs and to support RJ uses as well as restorative economic activities. Restore includes a dedicated RJ space, a restaurant with teaching kitchen for workforce development, and shared communal spaces.

Method

One of the most impactful of the community-engagement events was a workshop to amplify the voices of youth ages 14–21 to design an RJ space where they felt comfortable and welcome. Participants shared their stories and the values they wanted the space to communicate through collage, physical model making, and drawing. The results were a collection of thoughtful ideas that communicated the tactile and spatial qualities for a youth-led RJ space. Similar workshops were held with RJ practitioners to develop a combined aesthetic and emotional vision for the space.

DJDS developed custom engagement tools to help visualize the community’s programming needs. Participants placed blocks with symbols representing programming needs like education, mental health counseling, fitness, and daily-needs retail on a map of Fruitvale. They were also able to experience Restore Oakland and the surrounding neighborhood in virtual reality using Google cardboard glasses.

Impact

The presence of Restore Oakland has strengthened the presence of RJ in the local communities. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become clear that the building is nurturing an RJ ecosystem in Oakland, one that exists digitally as well as physically. Ownership of the building anchors the energy and resources of the building’s nonprofit tenants, providing them with the opportunity to expand and develop equitable strategies.