Oakland residents of color and their allies fight the multipronged threats of gentrification, environmental destruction and displacement in "The North Pole," an upcoming web comedy series whose trailer (above) debuted online yesterday (July 13).
The preview introduces audiences to Nina (Reyna Amaya, "All Def Digital TV"), Marcus (Donte Clark, "Romeo is Bleeding") and Benny (newcomer Santiago Rosas), a trio of roommates disturbed by the rising rents, gluten-free donut shops and "trap yoga" workshops permeating their community. Their own landlord's rent increase means they have to take on another roommate: Finn (newcomer Eli Merinthal), a White guy from Minnesota who works for a tech company making "self-sustaining" trees that grow in jars. The characters, who uncover the company's ties to corporate and political bigwigs hostile to Oakland's poor residents and climate justice, must unite to protect their city.
"The North Pole," named after a colloquial term for the North Oakland neighborhood at the center of the show, grounds itself in the East Bay's existing creative and activist communities. Amaya, for instance, is a local comedian and actress. Clark's spoken word poetry and local activism is the focus of the documentary "Romeo is Bleeding."
The web series features cameos from a variety of famous Bay Area residents including W. Kamau Bell ("United Shades of America"), former Black Panther Party leader Ericka Huggins and rappers Mistah F.A.B. and Boots Riley. Writers Chinaka Hodge ("Chasing Mehserle") and Adam Mansbach ("Barry") serve as creative consultants.
Series writer and producer Josh Healey (NPR's "Snap Judgment") works with Movement Generation, a local grassroots organization working on environmental justice issues. He and the series' creative team developed "The North Pole" in conjunction with the organization, and the project incorporates the organization's intersecting environmental and socioeconomic justice concerns. "At a time when whole communities and environments are being displaced and disposed of, 'The North Pole' is our creative picket line-turned-comedy roast—our crazy love letter to Oakland and all the people and places around the world worth defending," writes Healey in an emailed statement.
The creators funded the series in part through a Kickstarter campaign last winter. "The North Pole" premieres September 7 during a special screening at Oakland's Grand Lake Theater, as well as on YouTube.
Watch the trailer above, and learn more at TheNorthPoleShow.com.