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Introduction and Team

Aging is not a problem to be solved. The problem is the range of barriers—physical, social, financial, and cultural—that make it difficult to grow older with dignity and in community. Older people in the United States are often either isolated at home or subjected to institutionalized forms of care. Aging Against the Machine advocates for alternative housing and community development scenarios for aging that open up multiple options for care, improve physical access to the city, enhance resource sharing, and strengthen community ties.

In West Oakland, a culturally and racially diverse neighborhood, older residents are faced with precarious living conditions, insufficient public infrastructure and amenities, and limited caregiving options—effects of decades of disinvestment in social programs and the legacies of redlining. Despite these challenges, residents are working together to resist predatory real estate practices and advance the common good.

The area has long been a testing ground for civil rights movements and counterculture communities, producing alternative housing models, mutual aid networks, and initiatives—from historical Black Panthers programs to work inspired by Center for Independent Living resources for people with disabilities. Individual and collective initiatives continue to improve the neighborhood, including the community development work of the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC) and San Pablo Area Revitalization Collaborative (SPARC).

Aging Against the Machine builds upon this past and ongoing work. The project has been developed in solidarity with local residents, who contributed through a series of roundtables and conversations. Making visible, connecting, and expanding local initiatives and amplifying resident voices, the project manifests through proposals in a range of scales—from interior home renovations to collective land ownership models and intergenerational housing projects. Diverse spaces for commoning and networks of care at the scale of the building and the neighborhood are integrated with public social programs and mutual aid initiatives, ultimately contributing to an intersectional, community-based approach to aging.

Installation view of a gallery wall with text and images, with a shelf that has 3D architectural models on it.
Photo: Asya Gorovits

Visual Description

Photograph of room in gallery with wall and shelf extending into the room. The wall the photograph is focused on is white with seven sets of black text and images. The shelf begins below the text and extends into the room. On the shelf are 3D models of structures. The focus of the photograph is the large model on the flat right side of the shelf. The model shows the interior of a house with dark green and white walls. To the left of the large model, the rest of the shelf sits on an angle allowing the models to be seen from the top down. The model adjacent to the large house interior is a complex of structures with visible interiors. The other two models are out of view.

Project Team

  • Neeraj Bhatia, THE OPEN WORKSHOP, California College of the Arts
  • Ignacio G. Galan, Barnard College Columbia University
  • Karen Kubey, Pratt Institute, Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation



  • Todd Levon Brown, The University of Texas at Austin
  • Lindsay A. Goldman, Grantmakers in Aging
  • Annie Ledbury, East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation
  • Katharina Sauermann (Research Assistant)
  • Pablo Saiz del Rio and Vivian Rotie (Model Makers)
  • Cesar Adrian Lopez, THE OPEN WORKSHOP, University of New Mexico (Drawings)
  • David Peters, Black Liberation Walking Tour (Resident Liaison)


Resident Collaborators:

  • Juanita Nevis Cross
  • Ernest Johnson
  • Madlynn Johnson
  • Secret Peeples
  • Jackie Peters
  • Jesse Williams


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