From UC Berkeley Back to Her East Oakland Home

By Frania Martinez, East Oakland BHC Intern I am an ordinary person who grew up in East Oakland, attended Castlemont High School, went off to college and graduated. Yet many perceive my story as amazing and some even as a miracle. The reason may be that I am one of the many youth of color in Oakland who have been forgotten and neglected. I want to use this opportunity to uplift the incredible work I learned throughout my internship at East Oakland Building Healthy Communities (East Oakland BHC) and the greater East Oakland community. There is a fight for the most vulnerable and marginalized, such as myself, to give East Oakland residents strength and agency to advocate for what we need and truly deserve.... Read more »

CATEGORIES: Blog

African Liberation Day 2017 in East Oakland!

I knew East Oakland was a unique place to hold African Liberation Day (ALD) because of its history of activism, legacy of the Black Panthers and the depth and wealth of cultural-arts.   However, I did not know how much the Elmhurst neighborhood would embrace ALD. The Black and Brown residents that live between 81st and 85th Avenues and crisscrossing the alphabet letter streets of  “A” through “E” turned out, showed up, and were fully engaged for the 6 hour event at Tassafaronga Parks and Recreation Center on May 27th, a Memorial Day Holiday weekend.   This was the first time ALD was held in this beautiful East Oakland neighborhood.... Read more »

CATEGORIES: Blog

The Bay Area: This Beautiful Land, My Home

Lately I have been hearing lots of negative comments about The Bay – all from folks who don’t have deep roots here. Sweeping generalizations. Rising costs, ridiculous rents and negative personality traits shared by all of us. I listen and remind/inform them that The Bay culture has changed partially because of the new residents – including them. My family arrived in the South Bay. I don’t call it by that other stupid name. December of 1974, I was all of 8.5 months old. Mountain View before Google, was overall good. Decent homes with cheap rent (we paid $500 a month for a house with a big ole yard), good jobs (my dad was part of a union for many years) and great schools that had plenty of grass to play on during recess and lunch breaks.... Read more »

CATEGORIES: Blog

Prop 47 Training Presents Opportunities for Reduced Penalties

This month, East Oakland Building Healthy Communities, in partnership with Californians for Safety and Justice offered a free Prop 47 training. This new California legislation reclassifies certain felony offenses to misdemeanors and has the opportunity to benefit over 10,000 individuals and their families in Alameda county. Hillary Blout with Californians for Safety and Justice presented critical information regarding Prop 47 to over 75 participants at the training. Brandon Sturdivant from Oakland Community Organizations and John Jones from Ella Baker Center spoke on the importance of community outreach and engagement during this time to truly reach the thousands of people who can find relief through this amazing opportunity.... Read more »

CATEGORIES: Blog, Economic Opportunity, Jobs, Uncategorized

Recapping Neighbor Day At Rainbow Rec Center in East Oakland

On Saturday, August 1st, I went to Neighbor Day at the Rainbow Recreation Center. The block party featured local artists displaying their crafts, nonprofits doing great work, local musicians, and delicious fried chicken. Over 150 community members from East Oakland were there. I met people like Saul Daniel Silva who described himself as “Oakland-raised with Mexican roots.” Saul is an artist, entrepreneur, and organizer in East Oakland. He showed me some original Oakland t-shirts with the emblematic Oakland tree logo made of Mexican motifs like Nopales (cacti) and Aztec symbols. He also talked to me about several community-changing activities he’s involved in, like the production of a documentary with local hip-hop artist Young Chop that seeks to show a different, more positive side of Oakland.... Read more »

CATEGORIES: Blog, Neighbors, Uncategorized

Urban Gardening: It’s Not That Hard Y’all!

With the high prices of fresh fruits and vegetables at the local farmers’ market or grocery store, having access to quality food can be hard. Folks living in areas of East Oakland have an even harder time buying and accessing good veggies and fruits because there are no grocery stores. Several months ago I saw a talk by a community gardener named Ron Finley who has been growing food on the patches of soil between the sidewalk and streets of South Central Los Angeles. I found his talk to be entertaining because he could be my friend or neighbor,, and eye opening because I have seen many of the same conditions on the streets of East Oakland.... Read more »

CATEGORIES: Blog, Food Access, Health Happens in Neighborhoods, Land Use, People Power

2015 Mini Grants are Announced!

Congrats to the recipients of this year’s Youth Mini Grants! Each summer, our Youth Leadership Board awards grants of up to $2,000 to youth-led projects sponsored by East Oakland schools, churches and nonprofits. The 2015 grantees and projects are: Alternatives in Action – Fremont First Mentors Summer Bridge, a program to help incoming freshman to acclimate to high school. East Oakland Youth Development Center (EOYDC) – Summer enrichment program, healing classes for youth in collaboration with UC Berkeley.   LIFE Academy – MSA project, a multicultural student club to create cultural understanding and bridge divides between African American, Arab, Asian, and Latino students.... Read more »

CATEGORIES: Blog, Daughters & Sisters, Health Happens in Neighborhoods, Neighbors, Sons & Brothers, Youth Mini Grants, Youth Power

Oakland Residents Speak Truth to Mayor Schaaf

“We are an oak tree with deep roots, we do not move with the breeze even when the earth quakes; we still stand strong with battle scars,” said James, a 14-year-old East Oakland resident leader to Mayor Libby Schaaf. On May 19th in the old Eastmont Mall, resident leaders met with Mayor Libby Schaaf to express years of frustrations and negative impacts they have personally experienced while living in East Oakland. Each resident leader began their statements to Mayor Schaaf with “I am Oakland Community Neighborhood Voices.” They were in full force, donning black t-shirts with a hashtag on the front that read: #Health4all.... Read more »

CATEGORIES: Blog, Economic Opportunity, Food Access, Health Access, Health Happens in Neighborhoods, Housing, In Focus, Land Use, Peace Promotion, People Power, Transportation

Hello, Nice to Meet You

Hello, my name is Sergio R. Martinez and I just joined East Oakland Building Healthy Communities. I have been living in Oakland, specifically East Oakland, since 1974. As a matter of fact, I was born at Highland Hospital. My parents and I, briefly lived across the street from Fremont High School on Foothill Boulevard and in 1976 my parents bought their home in the Bella Vista neighborhood where I, and later my two siblings, grew up. I attended a catholic school in the San Antonio neighborhood and consequently befriended many who lived in the surrounding streets.... Read more »

CATEGORIES: Blog, Narrative Change

Erick, Tortas and East Oakland

Hey y’all! I am very excited to announce that I will be one of the bloggers writing about East Oakland and wanted to tell you a little about myself. I’m originally from Chihuahua (yes, like the dog), Mexico, and after growing up in the southwestern desert, I made my way over to the much greener East Bay in 2012. I currently reside in East Oakland, and ever since I set foot here, it’s felt like home as it reflects the largely Latino community I grew up in. I work full-time at Centro Legal de la Raza where I support an amazing team of staff that fights every day to secure justice for the Latino and immigrant communities of the Fruitvale area and beyond.... Read more »

CATEGORIES: Blog, Narrative Change

We Will Not Be Moved: Tenant Organizing for the Right to the City

Original post appeared on Medium.com Gentrification has created a housing crisis for urban, working class, tenants of color that is compounding historic racial and economic fissures. Working class urban dwellers are in crisis. Rising evictions, an aging housing stock that is unsafe and in many cases uninhabitable, soaring housing costs and the dramatic displacement of Black and Latino people. U.S. Census figures show that San Francisco’s population has grown from 776,700 in 2000 to 817,500 in 2013. In that same period, the Black population dramatically dipped from 60,500 to just 48,000; and as a result Blacks currently account for less than 6 percent of the city’s total population.... Read more »

CATEGORIES: Blog, Health Happens in Neighborhoods, Housing, Land Use

#RIPJacka: Oakland at a Crossroads

Our Progressive Movement here in the Bay Area is made up of some of the most courageous and compassionate people I have ever met.  And even yet, I believe that we are struggling to fully comprehend the depth of what’s happening right now in the Oakland Streets. The tragic shooting of the Jacka, a Pittsburg CA resident and one of the Bay Area’s most beloved rappers, on 94th Avenue in East Oakland came as a huge shock last Monday night – a shock from which many have not yet recovered.   For some of my friends who knew him well, his passing means an agonizing loss of camaraderie and brotherhood.  ... Read more »

CATEGORIES: Blog, Health Happens in Neighborhoods, Peace Promotion

Healing the Healers Kicks Off with Launch Ceremony

The comforting smell of burning copal and sage filled every inch of a 6th floor office space as the soft sounds of West African drumming resonated throughout the room. These elements created a spiritual mood upon which an afternoon of learning, reflection, and healing would be built. A group of Oakland youth organizers, direct service workers, and teachers gathered on January 23rd for the launch of the Healing the Healers Project designed to give support to youth workers so that they can, in turn, better support Oakland youth who are in crisis or who have been exposed to trauma.... Read more »

CATEGORIES: Blog, Peace Promotion, Youth Work

A Few Words on Ferguson, Cleveland + NY (A Letter from Our Leadership)

The recent events in Ferguson, Cleveland and New York – the heartbreaking loss of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice, three unarmed black males (two of whom were children, Rice just 12 years old), at the hands of police officers and the strong displays of public outrage that have followed – resonate deeply with us here in Oakland. As a community that has also suffered great loss, we stand with these cities in mourning, in solidarity, and in an effort to organize for change. In the face of these unspeakable injustices, we are called on to find meaning and, despite how difficult it may be, a way forward.... Read more »

CATEGORIES: Blog, Peace Promotion, Sons & Brothers, Youth Work

Residents Take the Lead to Produce A Mayoral Forum of Their Own

East Oakland residents and mayoral candidates recently came together at the Oakland Speaks for Healthy Development Policy Makers Forum to talk about how to ensure all of Oakland is thriving. Planning for the evening began in July 2014 when we convened a group of 30 resident leaders for discussions about what Oakland needs to do to attract better paying jobs, improve transit and housing, and promote safety and clean air. The residents came from every neighborhood of East Oakland. They are teachers, students, advocates, and retirees. They are teenagers and elders. They are black, white, Latino, and Asian.... Read more »

CATEGORIES: Blog, Health Happens in Neighborhoods, People Power

East Oaklanders #GetEnrolled at Home

In March 2014, as the initial Obamacare enrollment deadline approached, we worked with Causa Justa::Just Cause and Alameda County Public Health Nursing to launch a door-to-door enrollment campaign in East Oakland. The unique partnership was a project of our Health Access Work Group, a collaborative comprised of 20 health and community organizations. Our goal was to find and assist individuals and families with the process of registering for a health plan. The assumption was that many East Oaklanders would experience barriers to enrollment. A range of concerns led to the creation of the project: residents wouldn’t know how to enroll or wouldn’t have access to the online forms, there would be language or legal status issues, etc.... Read more »

CATEGORIES: Blog, Health Access, Health Happens with Prevention

Oakland Voices Kicks Off for 2014

We’re excited to share the news that Oakland Voices is back and in full swing. And, we’re proud to say that one of our own Youth Leadership Board members, Sandra Muniz, is participating as one of the correspondents!  The program kicked off over the summer and will wrap up in the spring. Check out the blogs the correspondents have produced so far.  About Oakland Voices Oakland Voices is The Oakland Tribune’s 9-month program that trains East Bay residents to tell the stories of their neighborhoods. The Tribune created Oakland Voices  as a vehicle for community members to become multimedia storytellers, and to be new voices directly shaping the coverage of this region. ... Read more »

CATEGORIES: Blog, Health Happens in Neighborhoods, Narrative Change, People Power

2014 Youth Mini-Grants Announced!

Please join us in congratulating the following youth and their sponsor organizations on receiving a 2014 Youth Mini-Grant! Our Youth Leadership Board has chosen seven projects that address a range of issues: peace promotion, drug prevention, youth employment, and improved health. The primary goal of these projects is to impact the future for East Oakland in a positive way. The grantees are: Brothers on the Rise, Cold Wheels Project – $1000: For this project, youth participants will make a wrecked car driveable again. Open to both male and female participants, Cold Wheels hopes to inspire more gender diversity among the aspiring mechanics.... Read more »

CATEGORIES: Blog, Daughters & Sisters, People Power, Sons & Brothers, Youth Work

The Numbers Behind Lift Up Oakland

A few weeks ago, our partners at Lift Up Oakland held a research briefing that was open to city staff, the media and the public. They presented research by UC Berkeley in support of their ballot initiative for raising the Oakland minimum wage from $8.00 to $12.25 with paid sick days. According to the research: More than one-quarter of all Oakland workers-up to 48,000 people-would directly or indirectly receive a wage increase if the measure passes, and roughly 56,700 would win paid sick days. Between $115 million and $126 million in additional wages would be generated by the measure.... Read more »

CATEGORIES: Blog, Economic Opportunity, Health Happens in Neighborhoods