This is the second interview in a new series of blog posts highlighting the members and organizers of East Bay for Everyone. Read the first post here!
Name and pronouns. Joshua Davis, he/him
What is your housing story? I moved to the Bay Area 5 years ago for work. My company transferred me from their suburban Virginia office to their San Francisco headquarters. I was really excited about being able to live in a city while working in downtown San Francisco, but when I looked at rents I knew there was no way I could afford to spend that much. I wound up moving to Oakland (which in hindsight I realize was a much better choice for way more than just cheaper housing) and have stayed here since.
What do you pay now? My partner and I live in a 1-bedroom apartment in Old Oakland. It is close to BART so we get to be car-free. We pay $2,700 for rent.
How did you hear about EBFE? I first heard about it through Twitter.
What brought you to join EBFE? I started getting angry about the excuses I was hearing for not building housing. I wanted to go beyond liking and retweeting things on the internet and put my energy into organizing for real solutions.
What do you contribute? I show up to councils and commissions and provide my perspective. I’ve noticed that the typical attendee of these meetings is not representative of the broader community. It tends to be people with a lot of time on their hands, so it’s nice to bring an alternative opinion. There’s also more routine work such as tabling events to explain what the EBFE vision looks like. I also donate to EBFE and the YIMBY-friendly candidates who associate with us.
What do you do outside of EBFE? I work at a small machine learning startup as a front-end developer. Outside of work I like relaxing at parks and beaches and traveling when I can.
What’s your favorite thing about EBFE as an organization? People seem to really care about trying to leave the world a better place. You hear that line all the time in tech, but the work we do to affect local politics seems closer to living this out, going beyond just doing your day job.
What’s your least favorite thing about EBFE as an organization? I haven’t seen too many downsides. I like that it is distributed, empowers members, but that does create some barriers for people who want to just show up and don’t have a clear idea what they want to do. How do we make it easy for people to plug into specific workgroups without developing hierarchy?
What do you think about EBFE outside of Oakland? We’re beginning to get more engaged at state-level, SB 827 is a great example. Understanding the state-level political dynamics is a new frontier. It presents an opportunity to work together with groups that we don’t yet have good relationships with at the state-level. Regionally, it’s about connecting the dots with things like UC Berkeley organizers trying to ensure the city/school provide housing for students and our involvement in the proposed Livermore BART extension. There are a lot of opportunities for more community education around how these things connect.
What’s something you’re super proud of in life? There were things that people didn’t expect me to do. My mom was the first person in her family to go to college, but it wasn’t clear that me and my sister would be able to go. We were homeschooled by a single mom who also had to make a living to support us. But both of us got full rides to college and I’m off on an upward track in the tech industry.
What does an East Bay that is truly for Everyone look like? Kind of like Wakanda, but with California’s demographics. There’s high density homes and jobs near high-speed transit. People understand how their daily choices create a better environment and have multiple modes of getting around. The built environment reflects the goals and values of people in this area.