I STARTED PHOTOGRAPHING WEST OAKLAND ON ITS OUTERMOST EDGES, because I love exploring and didn't know what was there. The area that first interested me visually was an old black neighborhood at the southwest edge of the city known as the “Lower Bottoms." Here I found a bit of the Old South: grandparents playing dominoes and chess in the parks, families holding barbecues to raise money for schools and funerals, and old-timers greeting me with a smile or nod. Today that southern charm is going away. Thousands of condo developments are going up, most of the old Victorians and warehouses are being renovated, and vacant lots are becoming community gardens. The mostly white and Asian students and BART commuters moving in say they love the diversity of the neighborhood and the urban hipster vibe; but where are the grocery stores? And why is trash dumped everywhere? And what can a liberal white person do about all the homeless camps, the drugs and the crime? There was a devastating crack epidemic in West Oakland in the late '80s and '90s and its children are still around.