B’Love shows me around her guesthouse’s backyard garden. In the ground are tomatoes, corn, strawberries, mint, cilantro and beets. Sugar cane and sunflowers reach for the sky. it’s a veritable cornucopia of fruit and vegetables. ‘It’s part of my lifestyle of health and happiness,’ explains B’Love. As a photographer and dancer, B’Love has established the guesthouse in such a way that attracts other artists. The backyard operates as a community hub, children playing in the garden, an outdoor weaving salon where guesthouse assistant manager Esther braids hair in the afternoon sun, and there are weights and exercise areas for those who haven’t been cycling the majority of every day for the past month.
The guesthouse is cannabis positive, meaning that you’ll fit right in sitting quietly in the corner of the garden, sucking on a joint of homegrown, observing as the guesthouse receives its backyard visitors. The rooms are simple, with room four receiving the most light, and open onto the shared kitchen and living area. The bathroom is shared, as are the amenities, fridge, washer and dryer.
It’s hard to argue against West Oakland as the premier location for the budget conscious traveler. At the end of the street—and only a five-minute walk from B’Love’s—is West Oakland BART station; one stop across the bay tunnel from Embarcadero. It’s perfect for those that need to visit San Francisco but are looking to avoid paying San Francisco prices, and find a quiet space to work and create.
West Oakland, like much of the East Bay, is grappling with gentrification. The beauty of the existing Victorian houses and the close proximity to San Francisco is pushing property prices up and the existing community out. This hasn’t gone unnoticed by B’Love, ‘As Oakland continues to change there is a cultural equity that needs to be addressed and preserved. That cool, unique, soulful culture is part of the city’s personality and life force. Attention and support should be given to cultural leaders and not just developers with big bucks.’
B’Love’s maintains a three-night minimum to encourage longer stays. During my time, I shared the space with a young intern from a San Francisco tech company and fresh food evangelist DJ Cavem, whose musical content is a message of fresh, organic vegetables and environmentally friendly living. As if to arouse my interest, he showed me a video of a song advocating for bicycles as a planet saving mode of transportation.