The Buddha of Oakland

A friend and I took a wrong turn in Oakland once and accidentally stumbled on this shrine in an otherwise unremarkable cul-de-sac. This unsanctioned intervention began when a local resident Dan Stevenson, fed up with illegal dumping and graffiti, had the idea of installing a Buddha statue to calm things down. Stevenson is not a Buddhist, but the statue was adopted by the Vietnamese community and what started out as a modest gesture became something much bigger. The short video above tells this amazing story. You can hear more about the “Buddha of Oakland” on this episode of 99% Invisible.

Here in Southern California shrines and murals of the Virgin of Guadalupe fulfill a similar role.

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We need more of these sacred surprises in our cities.

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  1. This was very interesting. I have seen lots of shrines over SoCa and AZ but never one that was as loved and cared for as this one. Sometimes it is just a very small thing that makes a difference. Thank you for sharing.

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