Nina, Marcus, and Benny head on a unique tour of their rapidly changing North Oakland neighborhood. Hit with an unexpected rent hike, they have to find a creative solution to stay in their home.
“You just gotta look at things from a more holistic perspective.” -- Marcus
The North Pole is more than that place atop the world where icebergs float by and Santa kicks it with Rudolph. It’s also the local name for the proud, historic neighborhood of North Oakland, California -- a land where young people of color in the late ‘90s and 2000s started referring to themselves, at school and in rap songs, as Polar Bears.
From the Bay Area to the Arctic Circle, both these ecosystems are experiencing a massive, unmistakable form of “climate change.” While there are of course major differences between global warming and gentrification, there are also important parallels in terms of their root causes -- a violently extractive economy based on unregulated greed and racism -- and the resulting displacement and destruction of local culture and environments.
For both these crises, poor communities and people of color feel the effects first and worst. From Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans to the affordable housing crisis here in the Bay Area, everyone feels the pain at some point – but these frontline communities get hit hardest. In parts of Alaska near the geographic North Pole, the Gwichi’in, Inupiat, and other indigenous communities are seeing their homelands literally melt away as they become some of the first climate refugees on U.S. soil.
Fortunately, the same people at the frontlines of the crisis are also at the forefront of the resistance. Vibrant grassroots movements are challenging government policies and corporations that want to pollute and displace our communities. From Black Lives Matter to Standing Rock to the Climate Justice Alliance, The North Pole isn’t just in Oakland -- it’s everywhere where people are connecting the dots, coming together across communities, and fighting for a just transition to a regenerative, life-affirming economy.