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It's Time Once Again for the Oakland Indie Awards

Annual awards celebrate newbies, greenies, old pillars, and Oakland soul.

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Oakland residents have a long history of supporting the neighborhood mom-and-pops, and funneling money back into the local economy. But in recent years the "buy local" movement picked up steam, especially with the arrival of do-gooder organizations like OneCalifornia Foundation, the non-profit arm of OneCalifornia Bank. With its emphasis on economic development and transparency, OneCalifornia has helped equip Oakland with financial programs that aren't usurious in nature — like alternatives to payday loans, or help setting up bank accounts. The foundation's crowning achievement is the Oakland Indie Awards, which started off as a launch party for the web-based marketplace, OaklandUnwrapped. Now in its fourth year, the ceremony is already an institution.

The Indie awards comprise eight categories, most of which are self-explanatory, according to founder Erin Kilmer-Neel. Among them are "neighborhood dynamo," "best innovator," the "greeny" award, "best newbie," "ripple effect" (for businesses that purchase most of their goods and services from other locals), "pillars" (for old institutions like the Grand Lake Theater), and — perhaps the most abstract — "Oakland Soul." Competition was stiff this year, with more than 700 initial nominations (which boiled down to 250, after event organizers discarded all the duplicates). A jury of local artists and business representatives narrowed that pool down to sixteen finalists. They'll reveal the eight winners on Friday, May 14 at the Oakland Indie Awards ceremony in Jack London Square Pavilion (98 Broadway, Oakland). With restaurant food tastings, local vendors, and DJs spinning a wall-to-wall soundtrack of Oakland music (which could include anything from Big Mama Thornton to Prozack Turner, Kilmer-Neel said), the ceremony makes good on its name. 5:30-9 p.m. $20 OaklandIndieAwards.com

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