Three years ago, Arbor Café opened up in the spot that used to house Sadie Dey's Café, a kid-friendly sanctuary for mothers in need of caffeine and Wi-Fi. Since then, Arbor has been honing a decidedly different atmosphere. In lieu of a changing table and squeezable, squeakable toys, the space houses a growing cross-section of the self-employed freelancing crowd — equally likely to be chipping away on laptops as scratching personal manifestos into Moleskines. In lieu of retail shelves, there's upright indoor bike parking. Instead of matching chairs, there are flea market finds. This is not where coders come to code, but where dissidents come to think and dream, where part-time poets work, where doulas come to study, where the timeless battle between capitalists and anarchists reaches a fever pitch on the back of the bathroom door. The food is simple, the coffee dark and strong, and the libations are ripe for nursing the heart of Oakland's fringe.
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