Gnomes in the City

photo from

You've got to love a city that fights to keep hand painted gnomes on it's utility poles! The city of Oakland, California fought for just such a thing recently. Now, when I think of Oakland I certainly don't think of whimsical gnomes and fairy toadstools- perhaps it has an unfair reputation but Oakland brings lots of other things to mind and none of them light hearted or reminiscent of a forest, and that my friends is the very reason why I love this story and felt compelled to write about it!

Inspired by the  Dutch book "The Book of Gnomes", by Wil Huygen, the artist (who wishes to remain anonymous- not out of fear but because he feels that no one person should be identified with them. He feels that the gnomes belong to the community and not one man.) began putting his gnome paintings on the utilities poles on the block in which he calls home. After overhearing that the young children from the pre-school across the street had named the gnomes and given them elaborate stories the artist realized that he was doing more than just himself and his neighborhood a service, that it went farther which in turn meant he needed to spread them farther- spreading the cheer really! Who wouldn't love that? I for one would be delighted if I had a little gnome painting nailed to the utility pole outside my window!

What I love is that the artist has personalized each gnome to the area of Oakland that they reside- for example: the gnomes in front of a tattoo parlour have tattoos on their arms, the ones down by water have bermuda shorts, the ones in the hills of Oakland wear kilts- indicating they are "highlanders".

My favorite part of the story? When PG&E was planning on taking then down, appeals from the community were made and the energy giant declared the area where the gnomes are located "gnome-man's land".  Yes!

As my husband recently said to me, "this guy is your hero!" No truer words were ever spoken!


  1. I heard this wonderful story on NPR and was delighted! Thanks for sharing it here.

    1. Rudianne brought it to my attention! I just love it!!

      oh and I just realized I didn't reply to your email!! I'm so sorry! I'll get right on that tomorrow!! Have a great night Cricket!


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