Christening The California Writers Circle

“Going Through a Stage”

A public service announcement 

from the 

Joaquin Miller Park Writer-in-Residence for the Berkeley Branch of the California Writers Club

The Fire Circle in Joaquin Miller Park is now being called the California Writers Circle. It is visible and shareable on Google Maps, and a great place to meet for picnics, meetings, and literary readings. It is exactly 247 steps from street parking along Joaquin Miller Road. It was christened on a makeshift stage in the rain by members of the Berkeley Branch of the CWC and members of Friends of Joaquin Miller Park.

A few things to know about this special spot:

After Joaquin Miller died, his daughter Juanita held nightly readings of his works, possibly in this very spot. She was a special community character known as “Oakland’s White Witch” and was instrumental in bringing the WPA project to the Park, resulting in the Woodminster Amphitheater and Cascades.

For several decades, members of the California Writers Club, which was also instrumental in that project, has rekindled a relationship with this space, which is also where its association originated. We currently host an annual literary picnic each year during California Writers Week, sometimes featuring a literary cake decorating contest nicknamed “LitCake.”

In January of 2023, the five mature sentinel Cypress trees that harbored around this space fell in a storm that decimated the Park’s trees. It is now an open meadow with some shade until about 1pm.

In the future, we hope to refresh the old BBQ structure with a stage instead of a fire pit. This is a concept for a temporary upgrade until a plan can be made. Simply filling in the fire pit with cement or reclaimed wood will allow it to be used by the community for this purpose. I hope to take this idea to the city soon. 

In the meantime, the portable panels used to create a temporary stage for A Circle of Voices are available  to anyone hosting a performance in this space. Contact Kristen Caven if you would like to use them at wir.cwc.berkeley at, or if you would like to be part of this project. The city requires a permit for all organized events, details here. To reserve this space, log into the city’s reservation website.

Kristen Caven is the first CWC Writer in Residence at Joaquin Miller Park. This honor is granted to a club member who wishes to serve the community while working on a writing project at a weekly retreat in Oakland’s historic jewel of a city park. Ask any board member for more information.  Read Kristen’s blog, Walkin’ with Joaquin!

1 Comment

  • comment-avatar
    Linda Brown 12/29/2023 (4:48 am)

    What an accomplishment! Just today as I cleared papers I found the first proposal for this name change-year 2010.

    Good work!

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