Last Thursday WYV founder, Ravneet Vohra, and I attended the ‘This Is Oakland: A Guide to the City’s Most Interesting Places’ book signing and PIC Oakland contest reception at Gondola Servizio, located at the ever-picturesque Lake Chalet on Lake Merritt. ‘This is Oakland’ is taking the town by storm, and while it’s flying off the shelf so quickly the publishers can scarcely keep up with the demand, it can be found at many of the restaurants and boutiques featured in the book.

This is Oakland! Team - Melissa Davis (author) & Kristen Loken (photographer)

This is Oakland! Team – Melissa Davis (author) & Kristen Loken (photographer)

If you haven’t already, check out Ash’s article on the book and author Melissa Davis!


Because ‘This Is Oakland’ features such amazing photography and supports and promotes local businesses, the book signing fit perfectly with the PIC Oakland contest, put on by Gondola Servizio and Shift Local. Gondola Servizio provided free gondola rides to attendees throughout the event, and is owned by local business advocate, April Quinn, who also owns the gift shop at the Lake Chalet, which features severals local designers.

Gondola Servizio at Lake Chalet

Gondola Servizio at Lake Chalet

Founded by lovebirds Marc and Mari, Shift Local is an organization dedicated to promoting the local economy by encouraging Oakland residents to support their local businesses. Accordingly, many local small business owners and lovers of Oakland came to celebrate.

Julia of Maple Street Denim & Kerri of Marion and Rose

Julia of Maple Street Denim & Kerri of Marion and Rose

Cari Borja & daughter. Designer, foodie, fashion blogger of cariborja.com

Cari Borja & daughter. Designer, foodie, fashion blogger of cariborja.com

Chelsea Snyder and partner kangapooch.com

Chelsea Snyder and partner

The PIC Oakland photo contest asked local photographers to submit photos that capture why they picked Oakland to live, work, eat, play, or shop. Shift Local received a huge number of submissions, making the decision all the harder for judges Allen Mendez, Kelly Patrick Dugan, Kristen Loken (photographer for ‘This Is Oakland’), and Allen Mendez.

The judges - Allan Mendez (www.abmendez.com) Kristen Loken (www.kristenloken.com) Kelly Patrick Dugan (www.kellypatrickdugan.com)

The judges – Allan Mendez (www.abmendez.com) Kristen Loken (www.kristenloken.com) Kelly Patrick Dugan (www.kellypatrickdugan.com)

Photos submitted by the top ten finalists were displayed at the event so that attendees could vote for the people’s choice winner, and those top ten entries will be printed by Panorama Custom Picture Framing and featured in the PIC Oakland exhibition, which will rotate through six Oakland galleries in 2015.



Since Oakland is the shit and offers such a diverse range of attractions, the top ten submissions captured a broad range of subjects, ranging from snail rails, a Bart station, a beautiful Redwood grove, a man dancing in the street, a particularly photogenic dog, a man walking on water at Lake Merritt, and more. The top ten finalists were: Jen Vista’s ‘Lost in the Woods’, Emily Tinkey’s ‘Snail Rails’, Brian DeSimone’s ‘Lake Merritt is Majestic’, Mike McGee’s ‘Twisted Kaiser’, Jess’s ‘#Gondola#sunset#vscocam’, David Meza’s ‘Live to Dance in Oakland’, Mike Acosta’s ‘#perspective#macarthur#bart’, Damon Tighe’s ‘Sunset Approaches Knowland Park’, Michael & Chelsea Snyder’s ‘Issa, the Queen of West Oakland’, and Robert Reeves’s ‘Gone When the Smoke Cleared’.

ZapInc photography-001

All of the entries that made it into the final ten were amazing, but the judges ultimately chose David Meza’s photo, ‘Live To Dance In Oakland’ (shown above), as the winner, while the people’s choice winner was ‘Lake Merritt is Majestic’ by Brian DeSimone (shown below).

Winning second place

People’s Choice Winner, Brian DeSimone, with his photo “Lake Merritt is Majestic”

Both David and Brian simply happened upon their subjects unexpectedly during photo shoots. David Meza (who also shot the photos featured in this article) was doing a photo shoot for Suru Clothing, when the man featured in his photo snatched a Suru hoodie, and darted into the middle of Telegraph Ave. to dance for a photo that was meant to be. Brian went to Lake Merritt one evening after a rainfall, and positioned himself low to the ground, knowing that the sky’s reflection on the wet ground would create an amazing foreground. Before Brian could ask, the man pictured insisted he take his photo. These are the types of people and moments that happen in Oakland — a city that encourages spontaneous connection within the community.

David Meza in action

David Meza in action

In addition to accolades, David won some great swag from local shops, a Gondola Servizio wine and cheese tour, and a $50 gift certificate to Lake Chalet.



But he wasn’t the only winner — a few other attendees who had the raffle magic working in their favor received excellent prizes from local shops, including the gift shop at Lake Chalet and Rare Bird.


Be sure to stay tuned for Shift Locals next contest, Ideal Date Night, beginning October 10th!

April Quinn, winner David Meza & Marc Mari Shift

April Quinn, raffle winner David Meza & Marc from Shift Local