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For more than two decades, Oakland-based 'marksearch', led by cultural researcher, artist, and literacy educator Sue Mark, has been designing interactive opportunities for communities to amplify and preserve neighborhood narratives in Oakland, across California, nationally and internationally. Often partnering with husband Bruce Douglas, Engineer and inventor passionate about repurposing materials, 'marksearch' creates dynamic situations for listening, learning and making visible local culture at risk of erasure.

Communities need opportunities to access their narratives in offline, face-to-face contexts. We explore neighborly relationships and tensions that arise from local economic and cultural shifts. Through engaged dialogue, 'marksearch' projects collaboratively explore: whose knowledge is valued; ways to connect longtime and new neighbors; strategies to navigate change while preserving the past; when and how a neighborhood becomes a community. Living in the same place doesn't mean we know how to live together.

Our location-specific actions highlight fluid neighborhood narratives to nurture resiliency. We meet people at public gathering spaces: libraries, parks, sidewalks, farmers markets, recreation centers, community meetings, and block parties. We create sculptural tools that inspire curiosity and encourage engagement --- a pushcart that converts into a mobile park, a travelling billboard towed by tandem bike, a grassroots archive embedded in a neighborhood branch library. 'marksearch' projects provide a social armature for communities to record, reflect on and imagine their identities. Neighbor-led walking discussions, community celebrations, skill-sharing workshops, interactive story-telling and published community scholarship uplift the expertise of everyday people. Everyone has a story tell. People want to know what they say and think matters especially during destabilizing times.

'marksearch' is honored to be fellows at Berkeley's Kala Art Institute (2014-2022) and with the US Japan Friendship Commission (2019-2021). 'marksearch' has received generous support from many foundations including: The Fulbright Commission, National Endowment for the Arts, The Creative Work Fund, The Kenneth Rainin Foundation, Oakland's Cultural Funding Program, and The California Humanities.


When the Sky is Our Roof, Berkeley, CA: Partnerships with unhoused communities to share neighbor stories. 2023-24

One Day, One Action, San Jose, CA: Digital platforms to engage communities in environmentally positive collective action. 2021-23

HEAR HERE Community Billboard Truck, Oakland, CA: Artist-designed EV truck to share stories & build belonging. 2019-Present

Journey Itself Home, 2021 Tokyo Olympics: Sound memorials honoring survivors 10 years after the Fukushima disaster. 2019-21

Commons Archive: Golden Gate Library Local Collection, the first neighborhood-based reference collection in the Oakland Public Library. 2018-20

Commons Archive, Oakland/Emeryville, CA: A permanent, participatory, grassroots neighbor archive at the local library. 2017-Present

Neighbors' Edge, Oakland, CA: Creation of mobile staging & programming with youth journalists showcasing local change. 2018

Commons Archive: The Lasartemays, Berkeley, CA: Interactive research room showcasing local African American historians. 2017

Silver Speaks, Silver City, NV: A collective archive preserving a disappearing way of life in a back-to-the-land refuge. 2017

Onishi Impressions, Gunma, Japan: Community generated ceramic tile mural honoring the region's natural resources. 2016

Sakura Machi Portraits, Kanazawa, Japan: Installation of neighbor images & stories about cleanliness philosophies & tools. 2016

Communities' Crossing, Oakland, CA: Improvisational performance explorations of neighborhood history & gentrification. 2014-15

Power Call, Oakland, CA: A nomadic, human-generated energy public commons for mobile device users. 2015

Finding Klinkner, Oakland, CA: Shared cultural research about a neighborhood's early real estate development. 2014

WOW: Robert Akeley, Oakland, CA: Interviews, photos, barn parties, & exhibition about a neighborhood octogenarian icon. 2013

Hands That Do All, Tondela, Portugal: A permanent cultural commemoration of craftspeople & agriculturalists. 2012

Walking the Invisible City, Oakland, CA: A permanent self-guided walking tour & podcast of neighbors' stories. 2010-11

Mobile Messaging, San Jose, CA: An interactive community bulletin board towed by tandem bike. SJ ZERO1, 2010

10,000 Steps, Oakland, CA: A collaboration with city agencies & community groups to explore downtown historic parks. 2007-10

CAlabama Peddlers, York, AL: An ecotourist exploration to develop & present town slogans for a rural town. 2007

Temescal Seed Swap, Oakland, CA: An interactive neighborhood exchange to share local seeds & stories. 2005-10

WE Riders, Oakland, CA: A collaborative bike exploration to culturally define & physically locate Oakland neighborhoods. 2005-06

A Place for History, Sofia, Bulgaria: An interactive oral history audio installation & series of performances. 2003

Bulgaria Time, Oakland, CA: Weekly neighborhood performances to broaden Oakland residents' knowledge of Bulgaria. 2002-03

Who Made This in China?, NYC, NY: An interactive performance to raise awareness about the production of everyday goods. 2002

Spoken Memory Maps, Sofia, Bulgaria: Multimedia oral history about post-communism for radio & local broadcast. 1998-2001

You Are Here, San Francisco, CA: Transformation of a vacant lot in Civic Center into a community landmark. 1996-97