Meet the Oakland Originals

Asiya Wadud

Asiya Wadud

Founder of Forage Oakland

The founder of Forage Oakland was drawn to the irresistible bounty of fruit growing over fences and sidewalks in Oakland’s Temescal neighborhood – much of it going to waste. Asiya Wadud’s community barter network brings neighbors together to build stronger communities while harvesting and sharing the riches of their own backyards.

Forage Oakland website – Forage Oakland

Spin-off project – Forage City

Michael Christian

Michael Christian

Metal Sculptor

Did these towering sculptures emerge from the earth or did they touch down from somewhere far, far away? Either way, Michael Christian’s artwork seldom stays put for long. Designed to be transportable, his striking creations invite audiences all over the world to explore in playful and revelatory ways.

Website –

Check out Michael Christian’s Indiegogo campaign and help support his latest creation.

Vanessa Solari Espinoza

Vanessa Solari Espinoza

Graffiti Artist, DJ, Clothing and Jewelry Designer, 3D graphics animator

The Bay Area nurtures amazing graffiti artists, DJs, jewelry makers, educators, clothing designers and 3D animators. But how many individuals are all of these things? Oakland Original Vanessa “Agana” Solari Espinoza is an artist of striking talent, whose prolific work transforms urban landscapes and guides young inner-city youth to channel their powerful emotions into meaningful art.




Tim Monroe

Tim Monroe

Inline Skater

Unassuming software engineer Tim Monroe never planned on conquering mountains. Inline skating in his spare time, he started exploring beyond his own neighborhoods and wondered how far he could go. Could he skate all 837 miles of Oakland city streets—from the hills to the flats—with all the obstacles in between? And what would he discover about himself and his city along the way?



Meet the future Oakland Originals

Oakland is bursting with talent, creativity and interesting characters. We look forward to profiling more of these fascinating individuals in the near future. But we need your help. Please suggest friends, neighbors or Oaklanders that you feel are worth a documentary profile. Make a donation to help make the next round possible!

Meet the Filmmakers

Jim McSilver, producer, director and editor of Oakland Originals, has worked on documentaries, shorts and feature films since 1990.  He has edited documentaries on history, health care, foreign policy, and the environment. He recently produced and directed a series of immersive video experiences for a Youtube 270º surround theater. He edited an episode of Aerial America for the Smithsonian Network; the pilot for the Reality TV series Good Works; and the final episode of the Lucasfilm documentary series Manifest Destiny, which was broadcast internationally and nationally on PBS.

He co-wrote, produced and edited the award-winning PBS documentary, The Split Horn: Life of a Hmong Shaman in America. He cut the investigative documentary Drug Money for CNBC and the historical documentary The Treaty of Versailles for Lucasfilm/Paramount. He has also directed and edited projects for such Fortune-500 clients as Coca-Cola, Intel, Genentech and Oracle.

Erin Palmquist, director of photography and producer for Oakland Originals, has worked for such companies as Lucasfilm, National Geographic Explorer, and PBS.  Versatile and curious Erin’s work as a filmmaker has allowed her to experience and learn from a  variety of fascinating subjects including: the refugee experience, Autism, pioneering girl coders, obsessive inline skaters, artists turning garbage into art, urban fruit foragers, BDSM, and so much more.  She is currently proud to be serving as director of photography on 5 Blocks – a documentary about the revitalization of Central Market Street Project in San Francisco California – and her first feature length documentary, From Baghdad to The Bay, is now in post-production.

East Bay Express Coverage

The East Bay Express featured Oakland Originals and our online release of the documentaries on July 24th with the catchy headline: Oakland Originals Film Series At It Again Read the article here. This was a follow-up on the longer story they did in May 2014....

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About the Project

The first four documentaries were supported by the Oakland City Council and funded in part by the City of Oakland’s Cultural Funding Program.

If you want more Oakland documentaries, support our Kickstarter campaign (get great rewards AND a tax-deduction) or make a  contribution on our Support page

Originals portraits by Sean Donnelly