Monday, June 9, 2008

WHYs Up!

Got wisdom about the Bay Area? Get it here!

This website was created by 25 high school students from East Oakland between the ages of 14 and 18, and their two teachers. From May 19th, 2008 to June 10, 2008, they took trains, buses, the ferry and paddle-boats to get to places all around the Bay. When they got there, they interviewed strangers, took notes and photos of safety, health and accessibility, economics, aesthetics, food, and diversity. They asked the "whys" that define their community: Why are people afraid of Oakland? Is it really better in other neighborhoods, like Berkeley and San Francisco? What do people in other Bay Area neighborhoods think of Oakland? It was these questions - and many more - that set us out around the Bay Area to explore and interview people, and then write all about it on this blog.

These are students who have stereotypes written about them, but they also had many stereotypes and ideas about their own - and other - communities. Over the three weeks of this project, they changed their ideas about community and diversity, found things about their own community that they loved, discovered things in other communities that they wanted to emulate, and found out that there are people all over the Bay that wanted to hear what they thought about their world and themselves.

There were eight locations: Walnut Creek, Frutivale (our neighborhood), Chinatown, Old Oakland, Lakeside, Rockridge, The Castro, and Alameda. After each visit, the groups would write up a digest of what they discovered from their visit, the interviews they conducted, and their own observations. They also kept their own personal blogs along the way, which you can see by clicking on the links below (in the "contributors" section).

In the end, they wrote their final pieces on their topic, a look at the Bay Area through the viewpoint of one topic, and then wrote letters to council members, senators, members of congress, the governor, and local community members that might be able to help them improve their community, and even gave specific ideas for change. By this time, they had many.

Our kids' own stereotypes of the Bay Area and it's people were broken. We hope that, after reading this blog, your stereotypes about Oakland youth are broken, too. We hope you will see and hear the voices of these students -- who are truly remarkable -- and learn more about our amazing, dynamic city in this wonderful and eclectic place: Oakland, and the Bay Area.

Mrs. Fitzgerald and Mr. Lee, teachers

Diversity in the Bay Area

By Juven, Claudia, Jasmin and Daniela

The Bay Area is known for its diversity. Some people say that it is the most diverse city in the whole United States! Now, we visited different locations in the Bay Area to figure out if that opinion was completely true. Here is what we figured out. When we visited Castro for the first time, we automatically knew when we stepped into that community. The rainbow flags that hanged from buildings and stores declared the unity and support that the homosexual community of the Castro District has.

As we interviewed storeowners and pedestrians, some claimed that the Castro community was very “diverse.” What kind of diversity are they actually talking about? The Castro District was not a very diverse place in our opinions, because this is a homosexual community. Because of that we know that it is not diverse in sexual orientation. It was also not diverse in race since the majority were white men. It also felt like they are not diverse in age groups because adult stores do not contain “ 18 or older” signs outside to warn teens like us. The reason why we feel that this community is mostly homosexuals is because they have established a community where they are seen as equal individuals, where they can walk the streets without hearing bad comments, and not have to deal with homophobia. In addition, when we visited Lakeshore we also felt like it was not very diverse because the majority these were whites. The reason behind this might be because housing these is also more expensive than in other areas in Oakland. Another reason why they might not have minorities in this area is because, just like the Castro, those people have created communities were they fit in. This is the case for Latinos in the Fruitvale Area and Asians in Chinatown: they all want to create a place where they belong. But now we wonder, does finding people of your own race to live with to be more comfortable create segregation between races?

During our Field Trip to Alameda we saw a lot of diversity, for example I saw a lot of white people and some Mexicans and also Chinese ones. We also saw diversity at Chinatown and in here we saw a lot of Chinese people, 2 or 3 white people and like 3 or 4 Mexicans. Some differences that we saw between Chinatown and Alameda were that, in Alameda the streets are very clean and in Chinatown they were not. Another thing that we saw was that in Chinatown there's a lot of Graffiti and in Alameda we didn't see Graffiti. Secondly, we saw that in Chinatown people were littering and in Alameda they weren't.

We also saw some similarities, like in Chinatown we saw a lot of Fast food restaurants and in Alameda there's also Fast food restaurants. We believe that the reason why there are fast food restaurants instead of healthier organic places is due to the fact that most people there are low income, in comparison to other places.

The diversity in the Fruitvale community was all kinds. There were people of all kinds there were mostly Hispanics and African Americans, there were not many white people but there were some Asian people around working. In the Fruitvale community there were people of the lower class, and middle class. In this community there were people of different religions as well, but the most common religion around the Fruitvale community was Catholic, with Saint Elisabeth’s church in Fruitvale.

Since in the Fruitvale most people were Hispanics there were many Mexican food restaurants and some Chinese food places. Again, just like in the Castro District, people come together to a community where they belong, where they fit in, to live more comfortable. This community was in some parts clean and some places were trashed the parts were it was clean it was probably because people care and clean and others don’t. The diversity in old Oakland’s community was mostly Asian people and whites, and some African Americans. There were mostly people of lower and middle class. The community was clean and there were not to many places to go. In this community there were mostly food stores mostly organic and hand made material.My experience when we went to Walnut Creek is that there were a lot of Caucasian people. The ethnicities that our group mostly didn't see where Latinos and other minorities, because of the high economical class that surrounds this city.

The reason that we think that minorities don't live in Walnut Creek is because it’s too expensive to live there regarding their salaries. In Rockridge its more diverse that in Walnut Creek. The religion that they mostly have is Catholic, Buddhist and Atheist. In Rockridge its not that economically diverse everything that they sale their is too expensive. Did you hear about the plain white-T that cost $133? Overall, the Bay Area is diverse as a whole because we have different races, cultures, sexual orientations, religions and much more. But, when you look at parts of Oakland, we found that it is not necessarily as diverse as it could be.

Health and Accessibilty around the Bay Area

By Jackie B, Valeria, Yesenia, Miguel

In different places that we went to visit, we noticed that they have different ways of getting from one place to another. In Walnut Creek most people would walk from one place to another. Some people in Walnut Creek would also drive to places. In Chinatown it was mostly the same, you would see people walking and driving. In Alameda people would ride their bikes, walk and take the bus to places. In Walnut Creek the bus was free and in the other parts that we went to visit we had to pay to get from one place to another or we would have to walk around.

When comparing the amount of free clinics of the Castro District in San Francisco and the Lakeshore Area in Oakland, there was a big difference. In the Castro, a lot of people told us that there was a very large amount of free clinics in that area. However, not everybody was educated about them. In Lakeshore, not a single person said that there were free clinics in the area, but most said they wish there were.

Another thing we noticed about the different areas was that the Castro had stop lights, but there wasn’t any way that a blind person would know when to cross because it emanated no sound! In the Lakeshore area (and in Fruitvale as well), that was not the case. Actually, we were surprised when no one else noticed this because we almost missed our chance to cross the street in the Castro because we weren't used to not hearing the sound.

There are places where there is healthier restaurants, and others where it's just unhealthy. The reason for why there are communities with an unhealthy lifestyle is the food that's being sold and the activities that people involve themselves in. For example Rockridge is a place in where you would see people out in the streets riding their bikes or walking out with their dogs, which is something that helps residents there be healthy. There were also many restaurants and grocery stores around, some sold organic food, salads and healthy food, although there was also unhealthy food. That is probably why they have a healthier life. Compared to Fruitvale it is the complete opposite, while walking around this community you would se many fast food places such as McDonalds, Jack in the Box, Pizza places and other kind of unhealthy food. You would hardly see people buying salads or drinking water, instead you would see people eating other things, probably is because fast food is much cheaper than organic food or just in general healthy food. It seemed that people in this community are surrounded by all this unhealthy food that they have just got used to eating this food.

The difference between Old Oakland and Fruitvale's food is that in Old Oakland the food is healthier than the food in Fruitvale. Like in Old Oakland they have a farmer’s market every Friday. So if you want to get fresh fruit and healthy snacks and foods you should go there. And in Fruitvale, the food there is more like fast food joints. They have taco trucks, Chinese food, and Puerto Rican restaurants. And the food in old Oakland is healthier for you than the ones in Fruitvale.

Food around the Bay Area

By Alejandra, Brian, Vanessa.B, and Amairani

Both Walnut Creek and Fruitvale are two places that have a lot of restaurants and food stalls around with a variety of pricing, and a variety of different foods. Walnut Creek has Mexican, Italian, French, Japanese, Korean, Fast food, and Mediterranean, Greek, Thai, and Chinese food. Fruitvale has mainly Latino food but it also has pizza, fast food, and Japanese food. Some people that were interviewed said that there are all kinds of food, and that the prices at Walnut Creek were affordable and some were not. The prices range from $2- $65. In the place where they sell crepes, the prices were from $2-$6, which is really affordable, and the food was really good. In other places the food would be really expensive, like some salads were $15 or more. The prices in Fruitvale are really affordable for everyone. You can buy an extra large pizza for only $13 and you get a free 2-litter soda with that. The tacos cost $1.25 for each, burritos cost $4, and quesadillas are $4 too. In a Chinese food place you can get mainly one choice of food for like $1.25. Other food places are really affordable, too. This shows that there is a really big difference between Walnut Creek and Fruitvale.

When we went to Alameda, the food tasted the same as in Oakland but when we went to Old Oakland it tasted different. At the Farmers' Market there, they were giving us food to try out. We tried it and we liked, it even though it looked nasty we still tried it and it was good. When we went to the Castro, the pizza there tasted different than when we went to Rockridge... because the crust wasn't as good as the one in Rockridge. Also, the Mexican restaurant in the Castro didn't taste the same as the one in Oakland, because people have different ways of doing their food, and people make it in a way that they think their customers want it.

Lakeshore and Rockridge have some things in common, like the fact that they have some healthy food places to go to. We guess that people cared about their health since they were seeing that health can be a problem and they wanted to address it. The government collects extra taxes in both Lakeshore and Rockridge to provide the customers better quality food that people wanted, like the Trader Joes (a cheap grocery store that offers organic food). In reading the blogs from other groups in Rockridge, something that stood out was that the taqueria stated “fine Mexican food” and only one Mexican women was working in this restaurant - the rest were Asians. In East Oakland it is much better: it is really Mexican food.

In Rockridge, we noticed that the majority of people purchasing Mexican food were white, African American, and Asians. They were the only Mexican people in thatr estaurant so it kind of felt awkward. In Rockridge, there are no liquor stores, but in East Oakland there are a lot of liquor stores and maybe that contributes to unhealthy food. In Rockridge and Lakeshore there is organic food, which is food that has not being sprayedwith pesticides and is natural. This organic food is much healthier than fast food. In the areas we visited the ones that were not healthy were The Castro, Chinatown, Alameda, and Fruitvale, but the ones that were less healthy were Old Oakland, Lakeshore, and Rockridge. Someone who left a comment for us on our blog said that the City Councilperson, Pat Kernighan supported a community fight for better food, and got a Trader Joe;s there.

Things that we remember from the Castro District in San Francisco are that many restaurants everywhere from many different cultures like Asian, Mexican, Italian, Japanese, and a lot of diners where they sold burgers and hot dogs as well as many cafes and fast food restaurants. They were really diverse in foods and they had a little bit of everything. The things that people talked about the most in their blogs were about the specialty stores where they sold things that were special to the Castro, and the pizzerias because there were so many of them. The food was also very expensive, like we paid almost $10 for acheeseburger and fries at a diner, which would usually cost about $5 at a regular fast food restaurant. They also had little markets and stores where they sold healthy and nutritious foods. We think that they had such a wide variety of foods because there are a wide variety of races and cultures in the Castro and it is so diverse, it is one of the most diverse places we've ever been to. It’s probably so diverse because the people who live there are so open about themselves and who they are, and it is a very close community. People could definitely feel the sense of community as soon as you step in the Castro, which we think is probablywhy so many people from everywhere in the countrywants to live in Frisco. The Castro District is totally different from Oakland’s Chinatown in everyway, because Castro has all types of foods and cultures while Chinatown doesn’t for the simple fact that it is mostly Chinese and Asian people there, therefore they want to have authentic Asian groceries and markets, and restaurants, and little shops and things like that.

Just like in East Oakland in Fruitvale, there are mostly Latinos, so there are mostly Mexican grocery storesand restaurants. We believe that it is tha tway because like people like to have their own piece of home. Many of them migrated from another place and want to make their new community feel like home.

Economics in the Bay Area

By Delilah, Cinthia, Jessica and Alejandro

In Fruitvale, our neighborhood, the landscape and general look of it is not as nice as it could be, like in Walnut Creek, Rockridge, and Alameda. There are a lot of cracks in the streets and not so much attention paid to the architecture and it's dirty here. There are also not as many ramps like there are in Alameda and Walnut Creek for handicapped people to use, or for people who use strollers and ride bikes.

There are small business stores in Fruitvale but they wouldn't have big brand stores like in Rockridge. There were some similarities between Fruitvale with Old Oakland and Lakeshore since there was tagging there and the buildings there aren't so new. In Fruitvale there might not be so much attention paid to its landscape because people might feel that it's not ready for it to have things like an apple store and a Tiffany's store since they might get robbed easily. And some of things aren't so affordable for a lot of people since they are not so wealthy as compared to the other places. We believe that the way people in the places we've been can show how expensive a place is. The people in places like the Castro, Walnut Creek and Rockridge, you could tell that the people there have money. We noticed that they wore things like business suits and name-brand clothes that you wouldn't see often in places like East Oakland or the Fruitvale district. We see people in the Fruitvale district wearing thing like discount jeans and t-shirts.

Most of the stores in the Fruitvale district are small business clothing stores that aren't big name brands like some of the stores in Walnut Creek like Tiffany's. The reason why we believe we don't have big name-brand stores in East Oakland and urban communities is because people in that community may not be ready or able to handle having a store like Tiffany's. And the reason why places like Walnut Creek don't have a lot of small business clothing store is because the people who live there have the money to buy clothing that's name band.

Rather the clothing people wear are expensive or cheap, people who are in the clothing business are going to appeal to the consumers of that certain community. So it's not a surprise that big name clothing companies go to places like Walnut Creek because they know that those types of neighborhood are going to but their clothes, whereas they wouldn't put a name brand clothing store in East Oakland because they think people wouldn't buy their clothing .

The price of things in each of the cities we went to was different becaus, like in Walnut Creek, the jewelery that they had at the stores were way expensive if you live in Walnut Creek you won't think it is a lot of money to waste on a piece of jewelery. But if you come from East Oakland you will think that is really expensive because the people that live in East Oakland some people live in poverty and they struggle to keep up their families. Even for a shirt out there they charge you around 70 dollars, for the same dress shirt that we saw at a store in East Oakland for 25 dollars. The stuff they sell out there is way expensive because they sell food plates for up to 20 dollars a plate, whereas people buy it in East Oakland for cheap: you can get a burrito for four dollars in in Walnut Creek you get it fro at least 8 the same size as a four dollar burrito.

Thinking back to all the trips that we've been on, we've noticed that a lot of the places have some things in common. The houses and types of cars that people in placesl ike Rockridge, The Castro, and Walnut Creek have are really nice. The houses cost a lot more and the cars are shiny, new, and dent-free. It would cost a lot to be able to afford a place in a really rich and nicec ommunity. It shows that people there are wealthy because they are able to afford those nice things. They probably feel like they aren't going to be robbed because it's a wealthy community. What's the point of robbing someone when you're wealthy yourself? Some other places that were similar were Old Oakland and Fruitvale. People at those places were dressed casually. They weren't driving fancy cars. In fact, the majority of the people at those places were taking the bus or walking. This shows that they can't afford nice things. They would rather use the money that they have to buy food and other necessities. They don't have that extra spending money like people in Rockridge, The Castro,and Walnut Creek. Two other places that looked similar to us were Alameda and Lakeshore. There were shops that sold expensive things, but the people there worecasual clothing. This shows that they are probably middle class people who save all those fancy stuff for parties and special events. Even though these places are close by, their economic status differ from each other in many ways.

Safety in the Bay Area

by Olivia, Jackie P. and Henry

There are a lot of place around the world that have different beliefs and thoughts about whether or not they think their community is safe. When we visited Walnut Creek, the Castro, Alameda, Chinatown, Fruitvale, Lakeshore, Old Oakland and Rockridge.

After we visited different places, we compared the different places about what people thought about the police presence. Most of them had said that they feel that their community is safe because they see a lot of police patrolling around; they live by the police station. Other places said that their community was safe because their police does a good job on taking care of it. They feel that the residents there are willing to help out and take care of their community.

The only community that we saw that had the most trouble with the police presence was Fruitvale because people there thought that they needed more cops in their community. So from what we noticed about the different communities we visited, we say that most of the people that feel safe in their community feel that way because they like their neighbors and how their police take care of it.

For those that do not feel safe it may be for different reasons, like the lack of not having cops around were they live. When you think about the safety of a community, the people that are actually part of that community and visit that community impact your perspective. After visiting the eight different communities we noticed that depending on who was surrounding us determined whether we felt safe or not. Places like Alameda, Rockridge, Walnut Creek, Old Oakland, and Lakeshore made us feel safer because there were places that were definitely family-oriented. You could see a lot of parents walking around with their kids with strollers. When we see families like that we could only imagine that the neighborhood is safe enough to have their children there.

Also the presence of business people make you feel like the neighborhood is pretty professional and safe. If you have business people walking around with business suits and expensive cars you can imagine that they feel comfortable and safe around there. In neighborhoods like Lakeshore, Alameda, Walnut Creek and Rockridge we saw a lot of business people going out to lunch. In neighborhoods like Fruitvale, Chinatown and the Castro, it wasn’t often that you would see business people in suits or a lot of families just talking a walk. These seem like more busy neighborhoods. Chinatown has mostly Asians that are always on-the-go walking in and out of the shops. Castro is the gay capital of the world so the environment there is just different all together, although there were some parents and kids around. Fruitvale is just a lot more Hispanic-oriented with a lot of young teens around there throughout the day.

When we went to all the different cities, we saw homeless people in Walnut Creek, Rockridge, the Castro, Alameda, old Oakland, and Lakeshore. We saw more homeless people in Fruitvale and Rockridge than the other places. We think because its Oakland. But we know that there are a lot of homeless people in Berkeley, too. We think the reason why they are homeless is because they buy drugs and they get addicted to it and they start buying it more and more and they start losing there money and family and then they lose their homes.

Aesthetics in the Bay Area

By Maria, Laura, Vanessa and Beatriz

While doing all these interviews around the Bay Area, we learned a lot from all kinds of people’s perspectives. Some people thought their community was clean, others didn’t.

Focusing on aesthetics, one of the main points was graffiti. Some people didn’t like the fact that the teens would 'destroy' the city this way, others would think that graffiti was 'art'. When we were interviewing people in Fruitvale village, we interviewed Pete Villasenor, a librarian. He said that in his opinion graffiti was an art and that he would like more people to pay teens to paint murals around the town. In other places around, Fruitvale people said that this kids who do this kind of vandalism are kids who are not educated by their parents, and that it was all about how the parents raised their children to respect property.

In Chinatown, and Lake Merritt, we also saw graffiti, compared to other places like Walnut Creek, Alameda, Castro Street, and Old Oakland, where the graffiti in walls was very rare. We think this is because this are wealthier cities were people paymore taxes and the money is use to maintain a clean city, they also use the money and spend the time to paint over the graffiti. Meanwhile in Oakland people are using the money to make the city safer and add more cops.

The Chinatown buildings in Downtown Oakland looked old. They looked like they were almost ready to fall down, not all of them but most of them. They didn't look that clean compared to the other buildings we saw. The Fruitvale buildings, is not that they look old is just that they look kind of dirty, not all of them, though some buildings in the Fruitvale area are new and they're pretty clean. In the Rockridge area the buildings didn't look old or new: they were in good shape and they didn't look dirty or like they had any tagging on them.

In Old Oakland the buildings were really old. The buildings in Old Oakland are one of the oldest buildings in the Bay Area. They don't look dirty is just the fact that there old that makes them look kind of mess up. Lake Merritt buildings seem like they’re in pretty good shape. Some of them were old and some of them were new. They were building more new buildings too. The buildings in Lakeshore were old but taken care of. They keep the buildings in good shape and make them look new.

In the Castro, some buildings were pretty old, but then again some looked new. They kept their buildings in good shape as well and they are very colorful and different. The buildings in the Castro have a lot color and even though some buildings looked old like the theater they had something about it that made it look new.

Overall, most of the buildings were in good shape. Fruitvale is a place that the Latino community identifies with. There are a lot of Mexican restaurants, and there are mostly Latinos around. The language you mostly hear is Spanish. In Fruitvale we are used to each other, and we are not scared when we see eachother's face. We have simple clothes. We don't have a lot of money to have nicer expensive clothes. In Chinatown, it was an Asian community where the elderly didn't speak much English. In Rockridge there was diversity, but not a lot compared to other parts of Oakland. The people there were dressed professionally, and were nice. In Old Oakland there was a lot of different people because it was the Farmers' Market day, and people from different cities came.

The Castro was a different community. In Fruitvale you rarely see a homosexual men walking around. In Castro that's pretty much all you saw. The people there looked like they had money based on how they were dressed. In Walnut Creek people were walking around in their suits and professional clothes. Most of the people we saw in Walnut Creek were Caucasian. They were not used to seeing minorities. It was clear they believed in the stereotypes that people said about minorities. The clear example that showed they were absorbed into stereotypes was that, when our male group-member approached a white lady, she grabbed her purse and looked really scared. We believe this because they haven't had the chance to interact with minorities, and they go based on what they hear in the media.

While visiting Fruitvale we noticed that the streets were really dirty. In the Fruitvale drains there was a bag of chips, soda cans and more other trash. There was people picking up cans and bottles (to get money for recycling them), but they weren't picking up thash. We think that Fruitvale was dirty is because theres' a lot of people that are lazy to look for a trash can and just throw it in the ground. In Rockridge it was very different from Fruitvale: the streets were much cleaner and there was no garbage in the drains. We think that it was clean because people care for their environment and don't want a dirty environment. Another reason is because there are a lot of rich people and they have pay higher taxes.

In Alameda, the part that we went to was clean. We think that there are parts in the community that are dirty. It was clean because people are clean and want people to see their community as a clean one. The Castro was different because it's right next door to the Mission, where the streets are super dirty, but in the Castro, they were much cleaner than the Mission. We think that in Castro it was sort of clean because some people cared about their community (though not all of them). In Lakeshore, their community was clean because there was a lot of trash cans around. In Walnut Creek the streets were much cleaner than in Old Oakland probably because some people don't care and some do. We think that if people make a change of not littering the streets can be much cleaner. In Chinatown, the streets had gum on the ground and we walked past a garbage can that was in the ground and there was thrash next to it, probably because it couldn't fit anymore garbage.

Alameda: June 6, 2008

Our last field trip was a trip to Alameda (marked with an "A"), a small island city within walking distance of our neighborhood (less than a mile from our school). Most of us have been here before, but we never went up to interview people there before today!

Alameda: Safety

By Cynthia, Yesenia, Olivia and Miguel

While interviewing in Alameda, we thought that we did a pretty good job with approching people and asking them if they wanted to get interviewed. Something that actually helped in our interviews was when we told them that they were going to be interviewed about safety. Their responses were really good: people in Alameda thought that their community was pretty safe in many ways. Most of the residents there have been living in Alameda for practically all their lives, and they haven’t felt insecure about living there.

Many residents at Alameda felt that their community there was really safe. There was people that even felt that they could walk around the streets at what ever time during the day or night, and not be afraid of anything. Even women. Overall it seemed that people at Alameda felt really safe in their community.

In Alameda, we got a lot of interviews than what we were "supposed" to have, because people were really friendly and seemed to like our topic. One lady compared to where they use to live (Lakeside) with Alameda. In her old neighborhood, she got mugged. She thinks it's much safer in Alameda, and that there are a lot of safety resources and there (like more police). The safety resources we found were many, since there was a fire department and a police department nearby and we would see cops patrolling the streets, driving around there. We even had a chance to interview a security officer and take a picture with him. In other places we would most likely find cops that wouldn’t want to get interviewed or even get a picture taken because of security.

Alameda: Diversity

By Alejandra, Laura and Brian

Our topic was diversity, so on our trip to Alameda we had to see if it was diverse or not. We thought that Alameda was diverse because we saw different races. When the high school students went out to lunch, we saw a mixture in races, maybe there was a few more white people then any other race but there were still a lot of African Americans and Latinos. Alameda is more diverse then any other place we went on field trips to. It would either be more of one race or less of another race, but Alameda seemed pretty balanced when it came to diversity.

In Alameda we saw trash, but not that much like in Oakland. We also saw a park we past by, but it wasn't like the one in Oakland: the park in Alameda didn't have any swings or a playground for kids to play, all it had was just benchs, trees and grass. Another thing that we saw was that the beach was kind of dirty, not like the beach at Point Reyes or Half Moon Bay. It's okay, but not great. One thing that surprised us was that there were a lot of kids our age passing by us and smoking. Hardly any kids at our school smoke, so it was weird to see so many teenagers smoking.

We interviewed this guy who worked in a bookstore. He was very friendly and good-looking (ha, ha!). He was white, in his 20s, and he let us use the video camera record him, which a lot of people don’t like; they prefer just the audio recorder. He told us that he thinks Alameda is a very diverse place and that he didn’t really see a specific race more than another, he said there was a pretty even mix of all races put together. He had recently moved to Alameda about 2 years ago from Oakland. He said that he liked Oakland and that it was ok, but he definitely mentioned the crime rates right away, saying that he came to Alameda to feel more safe. He also shared with us that he had been mugged twice, so that was a big part of the reason why he decided to move to Alameda. He said that the reason why he loved living in Alameda so much was because it’s a safe place where he doesn’t have to worry about getting mugged or scared that something dangerous can happen to him. He feels so safe there that he isn’t afraid to walk down the streets at 2am,which is something that we think most people would agree isn’t very safe to do in Oakland! He also loves it there because he feels a sense of community, and everyone is friendly.

Alameda: Economics

By Jackie.P, Ernesto and Amairani

Economically speaking, Alameda is quite diverse. If you walk down Park St. you find so many little shops that are all different. There’s clothing stores, shoe stores, kids toy stores, coffee shops, ice creamshops, nail shops, antique stores, retail stores, bookstores, comic book shops, a karate school, differentr estaurants and much more. They all vary in price range. Some boutiques and antique stores might be a little more on the expensive side, but you even see bookstores giving away free children’s books and smoothie shops giving away free children’s smoothies on Mondays.

It is important for students to start saving when they are young so that they could have enough money to pay the bills and for retirement, and there were posters on the bank to open accounts for kids to start saving. Most people that we interviewed had a separate saving account where they put some money. We didn’t go inside the banks to ask them how to invest our money, but one person we interviewed said that we should put 10% of your paycheck aside.

The prices were the same like Oakland but there were more clothing and food stores than our neighborhood. We think that the prices vary: there can be stores that might be expensive and others that can be affordable to people. The stores in Alameda can be competitive to making the most profit since people can easily walk to their competitor's store: for example Starbucks is right across the street from Peet’s Coffee (an East Bay coffee franchise). Most people said that ther job pays enough to pay the bills that they receive, and save money.

Alameda: Health and Accessibility

By Vanessa, Juvan, Jessica, and Valeria

On yesterday’s fieldtrip, we got a lot of interviews. We asked, “What do you think about the accessibility for the handicapped in this area?” A storeowner told us that she made the aisles wider so people in wheelchairs could have an easier time shopping. In a beads shop, a lady told us that she had bought ramps for wheelchairs so they could come in and out a lot easier. She told us that she had a difficult time looking for them though. You don't really know where to start looking for stuff like that!

In Alameda, we saw a lot of food stores and only one health food store. One restaurant was selling only salads, but we saw a lot of Fast Food restaurants. We thought that Alameda was one of the healthiest places we've seen, but some people that we interviewed said that Alameda was not very healthy at all.

While we were walking around Alameda after we finished lunch, we got to a crosswalk and saw something very interesting. We pressed the button for us to cross, but there were no lights indicating if we could walk or not so we had to watch out for the cars ourselves. When we looked at the ground, there were some flashing lights. We figured out that the lights were there to warn oncoming cars of pedestrians crossing. We thought it was really cool because we’ve never seen anything like that before in Oakland. It also helps out a lot because sometimes, drivers can’t see pedestrians who are about to cross. For example, those who are in wheelchairs are sometimes hard to see because they aren’t able to stand at their full height. We think that there should be more of those contraptions here in Oakland, as well as other places.

Something that we noticed about Alameda is that they have a little ramp on every sidewalk for disabled people to go up and down on their wheelchair. Also their sidewalks are wider so the people won’t crash with someone that’s on a wheelchair. The sidewalks also don’t have that many big cracks on them. We think the sidewalks are taken very good care of. We think that they think about the disabled people a lot because everything looks as if it is made especially for them.

Alameda: Food

By Delilah, Vanessa, Alejandro and Lesley

The people that we got to interview in Alameda were really nice. We asked people that didn't look busy. Most people said that they really like the food that's there in Alameda. Most of them were teenagers from the high school, on lunch from the high school nearby, and of them were going toplaces like Jack 'n' the Box and the pizza place. There were also a lot of kids in the Starbucks. We saw that most of the food places were affordable. Wet hink that this is probably because of the high school nearby.

Overall, the interviews that we did get were okay. We feel that wecould have gotten more interviews. We only got four. Maybe this was because it was around lunch time, and people didn't want to give up their time.

Alameda: Aesthetics

By Jackie B., Henry and Maria

Alameda is very different from Oakland. They don't have graffiti on the walls and the streets are more clean. Some people were nice and others were very rude. When we were walking around, they didn't really look at us funny, though, probably because teens that look like us go to Alameda High and Encinal High.

Oakland and Alameda have their similarities and differences. The differences were that Alameda looked nicer and cleaner. The houses were bigger and in better condition. The streets looked cleaner. The people around looked different and with different clothing styles. Most people there were white and asian. A similarity between Oakland and Alameda was the park. The park in Alameda had benches and tables, and they were all tagged up (like Oakland).

Everyone we interviewed in Alameda said the same thing about their community; it’s safe, pretty, clean, and the people are nice (some said that there was a lot of tagging on the park benches, but that was it). That was kind of boring. Not to say that Alameda isn’t all those things, it’s just that it doesn’t seem very interesting to be there. I wish that they would have told us more about what they liked in particular (their favorite places and what not), but they all seemed to like everything about their community! It really makes us wish we found someone who isn’t from Alameda to tell us what they liked, and how it compared to their community. Then the trip wouldn’t have felt like a complete waste of our time (that is, not so interesting).

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Castro: June 3, 2008

Today, we went to the Castro District of San Francisco (marked with an "A"), 15.3 miles from our neighborhood and completely different from anything we've really seen before. Some of us were uncomfortable to be in such a different place, but there were many people who wanted to talk to us, answer our questions and make us feel welcome.

The Castro: Diversity

By Daniela and Olivia (Ernesto and Amairani were absent)

Yesterday we went to San Francisco to visit The Castro Area. Most of us have never been there before, but we could definitely tell when we stepped into that area. There were many rainbow flags representing the homosexual community. The flags really added a sense of unity in that area, because there were flags everywhere, even at a local Walgreen’s. Before we went to The Castro, we watched a video about it, and we saw the same stores there (Cliff's Variety store). The reason why we feel like that community was united, besides sexual orientation, is because the stores that are located in that area have been there for a longtime. People become familiar with the stores and the people that are working there too, and people feel connected to people and placed they know.

When it comes to diversity, The Castro is not really very diverse -- after all, it is a homosexual community. Although there might be heterosexuals there, it is definitely not the majority of the population. We asked ourselves, “how did it become a homosexual community?” The only thing that came in our minds was that people unite with those that they can relate too, just like the Fruitvale Area, where the majority of the population is Latinos, and in Oakland Chinatown, the majority are Asians. In the Castro, they have established a safe community for homosexuals, so that as they walk down the street holding hands, and people don't look at them weird ot think it's odd. They can be who they are without being judged in this place.

Our group feels like this is not a diverse area, not only in sexual orientation but also in race and gender. While we were at Castro street in San Francisco, we we hardly saw any African Americans or Mexicans. The majority of the population there were white men. Although you did see other races it was not seen as frequently as whites.

When we interviewed people, some of them said that the Castro was diverse because of sexual orientation, and because the Castro was becoming more of a family community. But what we learned when we interviewed the people was that, in their perspective, the Castro is starting to change to have more diversity. By having a family community, they mention that homosexualf amilies with children were moving into that area, which created a better feel to the Castro. On theo ther hand, others claimed that the Castro is primarily an area of men whom are homosexuals.

The Castro: Safety

By Jasmin, Yesenia, Brian and Jessica

In the Castro community people said they felt safe in the daylight morning and afternoon. Some people said they felt safe because there were not a lot of people around in the morning and others said they felt safe because there were people around. In the Castro community, people said some stores have been robbed but it does not happen a lot, like in Oakland. This community is pretty much safe and not too many things happen around there.

When we interviewed people, we asked them how they felt while walking on the streets and a lot of them said they felt safer during the day. We asked them why and they said that it was because people tend to get drunk at night and cause "mayhem". There are a couple bars in the Castro District and there are people who like to go out at night and party. They end up getting drunk and do reckless things. When they walk around at night, they have to "watch their backs" in case a drunk person might do something. There have been cases of robberies and pickpocketing in The Castro.

When we went to the Castro in San Francisco, we interviewed people if they think the police are doing their job. Most of the people told us that they thought the police were doing their job, but when we asked a shopkeeper, he told us that he didn't think that the police were doing thier job: last time he got robbed, he called the police and they took two hours to get to him.

The Castro District in San Francisco seemed like a very nice community to visit. The people that got interviewed there thought that it was a really safe neighborhood. Though some people said that the night clubs and bars made it unsafe at night. But other than that, everyone there thought that it was a really safe neighborhood... but it could also be unsafe depending on what situation you involve yourself in.

The Castro: Aesthetics

By Cinthia, Juven and Claudia

When we went to the Casto district, we were really surprised because there were a lot of different people that we weren't used to seeing in our neighborhood. There were mostly white people, but there were other ethnicities, too. People mostly looked like they had a lot of money to spend on their clothes, and wanted to look good. Also, the might be spending money on gym memberships, or maybe they just walk a lot. There were some people that were't fit, but, mostly, the people looked like the worked out a lot.

Around the streets, things seemed clean and decorated. They also had a lot of colorful rainbow flags, which we had never seen before. At least not that many. They were on every lamp post, and on the fronts of stores.

In the Castro, they have a lot of different stores and they sell different things that Oakland doesn't really have. The landscape was mostly flat with some hilly streets here and there, around San Francisco. There was some view of mountains nearby. The interviewees said that they would like more interesting buildings and architecture added to the Castro. Also, people who worry about the environment think that the landscape needs to be greener.

Outside of our topic, it was interesting that we interviewed six people very easily. Everyone we asked said yes. This was weird to us because they were all saying yes to us and nobody said no. That's never happened to us! Something else that was interesting was that the people we interviewed said that they came to live in the Castro because, there, nobody calls makes fun of them for being gay.

The Castro: Food

By Jackie B., Henry, Laura, (Alejandra)

On our trip to the Castro District we saw a lot of different food. One place that we would recommend to eat if you ever go to the Castro, or are in the San Francisco area is Marcello’s Pizzeria. When one of us went there yesterday, they got a cheese slice and let me tell you…it was so good. Not to mention the price; on slice (depending on what you get) is pretty cheap. We got a slice for $2.95; it sounds like a lot, but the slices are like two in one. And they even have a thin crust (original style) and the thick slices (Sicilian style). We're definitely going there again.

One of us ate at a different pizza place at the Castro (forgot the name of it). The pizza was good, but the workers seemed rude. They look like they do get business; and, well who can blame them? They have good pizza. The workers don't look like they like working there, though. Actually, the kitchen looked dirty. And the oven where they heat up the pizza slices looks dirty. We would recommend going to eat there because the food is good, but then, at the same time, we wouldn't because we don't know the name of it and because it looks unsanitary.

There were also a lot of specialty food and candy stores there, selling little things that were special to the Castro. They had a candy shop called Hot Cookie that sold candy, cookies, and popsicles shaped like body parts. (It was like a banana with chocolate on top of it.) It was a really colorful store: they had colorful pictures of people eating their candy, and red boxer-shorts on the outside of the store with some rainbow strings. There was also a chocolate store where they sold a lot of different chocolates. It was eye-catching and very different than what we see in our neighborhood. From all the paints and colors around, you can tell they have a lot of pride in their street.

The Castro: Health and Accessibiltiy

By Vanessa B., Maria, Beatriz and Miguel

We noticed that the food on offer around the Castro was pretty healthy, and there were a lot of different choices. Most of the food was from restaurants and cafes, and there were hardly any take-outs or fast food places. If fact, we didn’t notice any fast food restaurants around the Castro district (we passed some in the Mission on the way to the Castro, though!).

The people around looked pretty fit and healthy. There were a lot of people running, riding their bikes, and walking quickly around the Castro. We even saw people running up the hilly streets, and lots of people walking dogs.

We interviewed people and we asked them what they do to eat healthy and they said they eat vegetables and organic food, and do a lot of exercise. We were really amazed because people in this district of San Francisco seem to care about their health and fitness. One person told us that San Francisco was nominated as one of the healthiest cities in the USA. In the Castro, we can see that focus on health is there. There are parks and places you can go visit and have fun with your family. Many people were in the park with us later, walking dogs and playing sports or just sitting in the sun and reading a book.

In the Castro district we found out there are several free clinic around the area, but not everyone we asked knew where they were. This shows that maybe those people don't live there, or aren't educated well enough about the clinics. Another person we interviewed said that he goes to a free clinic in that area, and the free clinics have a lot of patients and not enough staff. Others said that they paid health insurance and have their own doctor, but it would be better if there were more of these free clinics around to benefit others who really can't afford health insurance and medication.

The Castro: Economics

By Delilah, Alejandro, Lesley and Vanessa R.

The Castro District of San Francisco is a very good-looking place. It is very clean and colorful, with lots of rainbow flags everywhere and bright colors on the shop fronts. There are also a lot of houses that look like they have been renovated, and money spent on them.

Some of the people we interviewed said that a lot of money has been spent in that part of San Francisco. People invest a lot of money there because they want to keep the neighborhood clean and safe. Most people said that there was mostly middle and upper class people there (people earning a higher income, and often earning two incomes per household). They also said, and we agree, that the stores are kind of expensive there.

The people we spoke to in the Castro District were really nice and were very quick to say yes to an interview. We really liked how the people were not negative towards our group. Some of them really expressed interest in our project and wanted to make sure we had all our questions answered. They were friendly to us, and didn't seem to be afraid of us, or think anything of us coming from Oakland.

There were a lot of different stores in the Castro. Most of them were way out of our price range. One store, where we were interviewing the clerk, had this really pretty jacket, but the store clerk said "your not gonna want it when you see what the price is!" We didn't check the price. He laughed and said that the Castro is an expensive place, maybe because people there are more willing to spend money to look the way they want, and have more money to spend on the things they want. One thing we couldn't help notice was that there were many adult stores there that sell things. There were also a lot of home stores, flower stores and cafes. We have flowers in Oakland, too, but not as expensive.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Lakeshore: June 2, 2008

Today, we went to the Lakeshore district of Oakland. Lakeshore is to the north of Lake Merritt, near Piedmont (a small island city within Oakland, that is a lot wealthier than Oakland).

Lakeshore is different than East Oakland, but it still felt like Oakland to us.

Lakeshore: Food

By Laura, Jackie, Alejandra, and Henry

On Monday, the WHYs Up crew went to the Lake Shore area of Oakland. While we were there we got something to eat. Some of us went to Noah’s Bagels and purchased a bacon and cheddar bagel. It. Was. Super. Special. Awesome. It was so filling with the omelet thing on top with the bacon and cheddar (drool). However, after that, we went to get a green tea milkshake at the Yogurt Deluxe. That was not so great. We don’t know if it was the ice cream or the fresh milk that they used, but it tasted kind of sour. From now on, we're only getting my green tea shakes at Lord’s in Castro Valley.

At Lake Merritt we interviewed five people about food. We saw some fast food restaurants there like a Subway, and a Chinese food place; they had a lot of Cafes, etc. They also had some healthy food stores where they would sell organic foods and pills to lose weight. They had a few restaurants that seemed like they had pretty healthy foods, like salads. The people we interviewed said that Lake Merritt is healthier then it used to be.

Lakeshore: Aesthetics

By Cinthia, Juven, Claudia and Jackie P.

Yesterday, we went to Oakland Lakeshore district. There was a Burrito shop, Starbucks, Chinese food, Subway, Hamburgers, Walgreen’s, Gas station and a KFC. Something that we saw was that none of this stores had graffiti on them. It was amazing because here in East Oakland you see lot of graffiti on the stores.

We also went to the Oakland Rose Garden. It’s a big place and the only thing that you see around the garden is a lot of roses. They have different kind of roses. We've never seen a place so beautiful! We really liked it, and think that it’s a good place to go to and be with your family.

Lakeshore's landscape was flat and the architecture was pretty nice. There was also some graffiti art on some of the sidewalks and streetsigns, but not on the buildings. There were a lot of small restaurants and caf├ęs. There was a taqueria that looked like the ones we see in East Oakland. There was trash on the sidewalks. People thought of the trash as a big problem, but that didn't stop the two people we saw littering.

Lakeshore: Economics

By Delilah, Alejandro, Lesley and Vanessa R.

Our experience in Lake Merritt was o.k. It was really hard to get interviews there, even though there were a lot of people. They were mostly busy. The people we got to interview said that they were mostly middle class.

Food and things in the shops were affordable there compared to other places we've been so far, but the prices in Lakeshore are higher than East Oakland. When we were in Foot-Locker, there were some shoes that were $99. Some of their food places are expensiv: there was this one burger place where their burgers $7 to $8. But even though some of the stuff was a little more expensive that we'd like, it was good quality.

A lot of people we asked to interview said no. We went inside this office to see if they could answer some questions, but they said they were too busy and gave us their manager's email address. In some ways, this trip was a waste of time because we waited for people who ended up saying "no" to an interview, and only three people said yes to an interview.

Lakeshore: Diversity

By Amairani, Olivia and Ernesto

Our definition of diversity is when there are differences ethnic backgrounds, culture, and traditions, and to have a little of each race not just one race in that community.

To different people we interviewed they had a different definition of diversity, but there is no right and wrong answer. People at Lakeshore do think there is a lot of diversity because they see different kinds of people, food, and cars. We asked people if they saw diversity there they said they do and they liked it because it was different then other places. They say things are simpler there not like in other places. While we were at Lake Shore interviewing, we noticed that there were different types of ethnicities. This was really different than what we saw in the previous field trips we had go to, because in the other trips there weren’t that many types of diversity.

Lakeshore: Safety

By Jasmin, Yesenia and Jessica

In the Lakeshore community, a lot of people run around the lake to workout and stay healthy. We asked some of them about safety, and people said they thought it was safer in day light because people are surrounded by other people walking, and not running alone. Most people said they walk at noon and not at night because most burglary and crime happens at night. People said that there have been robberies in stores at night, and purse snatchings are common, too. Most people we interviewed said that the police don’t seem to try their best to respond for this actions. We interviewed this one lady who ran the Blockbuster Video store and she said that she has been robbed a couple of times. One time, the police were called and didn't arrive until two hours later.

The majority of the shopkeepers that we interviewed said that they didn't feel safe at night because of crimes that have happened before. They said that a lot of the stores, including their own, have been robbed or held up. When we asked them if they think the police are doing their job, they would say no. A guy at an autoshop told us that he didn't think the police are doing their job at all. One time, his friend was getting robbed, and somebody saw from across the street. That person ran to a policeman on the corner, and the policeman told the man to call 911 to have someone dispatched. The poiceman didn't go himself. People feel unsafe walking around their community, but they just have to deal with it, and watch their back when their walking aaround this community.

Lakeshore: Health and Accessibility

By Vanessa, Maria, Beatriz and Miguel

There were a variety of healthy food choices around Lakeshore. Some foods were healthy, others weren't. Some of the more healthy choices were Subway, Vegetarian pizza, and places where they sold different types of soups. There was also a Trader Joe's market, which is a grocery store that sells organic and locally-sorced foods. At the same time, there were also a lot of unhealthy choices; there were a lot of fast food restaurants, like Chinese take-outs and greasy-looking burritos. Most people around were eating different kinds of food.

On our way to Lakeshore we saw a lot of people exercising, running around Lake Merritt. We interviewed women and we asked her what people do to keep healthy. She said, "they go and run in the morning, and try to eat healthy". We passed by the restaurants and saw people eating healthy for example salads, vegetables and other things. We were amazed because if you come to Oakland you don't see as many people eating healthy.

While walking around Lakeshore asking people about health, we figured out that there weren’t any free Clinics in that area. This lady we interviewed said it would be nice if there were more free clinics around this area. Free clinics would be a good idea for people that have a low income and can't afford health insurance. If these clinics aren’t free, they should at least be at a low cost. This way, people can go for checkups to make sure they're healthy, and find health problems before they get bad. Overall, we think Lakeshore had both healthy and unhealthy people. There were a lot of people there for work, not living there, so this might not show what the neighborhood people might be like.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Old Oakland: May 30, 2008

Today, we went to the "Old Oakland" district in Downtown Oakland. It's only one block away from Chinatown, where we went a few days ago. There is a Farmers' Market there every Friday, and we got to look around and try some new foods.
After the Farmers' Market, we went to Lake Merritt and got on to the paddle boats. It was so much fun! What a nice way to spend a Friday!

Old Oakland: Economics

By Maria, Laura, Miguel and Jackie B.

At the farmers market in Old Oakland, people were selling different things. Some people would sell fruits. Some had samples of the fruits so you can taste it before you buy it to see if you like it. People came frome different places just to sell their products. Another person was selling crepes and was giving out crepes to people so they can try them, they were really good. Some people were playing music trying to sell their CDs. They were selling food to eat too, like chiken, hot dogs, ect. They were also selling jewlery like rings, earings, and bracelets. They sold many things in the farmers market in Old Oakland just to make some extra money.

There were many things being sold in the Farmers' Market in Old Oakland. The people decide to sell their products in this market every Friday because they can sell them there at a higher price. They say that if they sell it to the supermarket, they get paid really low for their products. Therefore, they decide to come from far away places such as Fresno, to be able to directly sell to the consumers.

At the Farmer’s Market, there were a lot of people selling pretty much the same thing (cherries, strawberries, greens, etc.); most were priced the same. For example, almost every stand that had cherries were selling a regular basket for $3.00, maybe 50 cents more at one other stands (a dollar more at this one in particular). But if you look for bargains, they will find you. We found this one cherry stand where they were selling a regular basket for $2.00! They were the only ones, too (we bought some from them; they were delicious). That’s why these Farmer’s Markets are so great, because you have a lot of people selling the same thing in one area for different prices; and they’re a lot healthier for you too.

Old Oakland: Safety

By Jasmin, Vanessa B., Jessica, Ernesto

Old Oakland seemed to be okay, as far as safety is concerned, but we didn't see any police or security guards. There were a lot of little stalls and stores, but it didn't seem that anyone was afraid. While walking around, it felt kind of safe. It didn't feel like anything was going to happen because everybody seemed busy trying to buy stuff. It still felt like something could happen though, since it is out in the open and people are too busy to notice anything suspicious. They put up roadblocks at the end of the streets to let people know that they can't drive in there. It made the place seem safer.

People at Old Oakland were really nice but we did not get that many interviews from the stall-keepers. The reason why we didn't get a lot of interviews was because a lot of the times when we asked them they were with customers. We think people were really nice when they said no because they said it in a really nice way. A guy even gave us Crepes for free. He just said to tell people where he was. That was really nice of him.

In the Farmers' Market in Old Oakland there were a lot of different people. Generally, people were nice, but there were also a few people that made us feel unsafe. This one guy was making rude comments at us girls, trying to flirt with us. He said to one of us that she was blushing when she looked at him, but she wasn't blushing, she was just looking at the stuff that someone was selling. He also told one of us that he thought we were nice, and that we should stay together to stay safe around Oakland. He then said that "you can pretend you're ignoring me, but I know you can hear me". We just walked away. There are people like that everywhere, but it really tainted our experience of the place.

Old Oakland: Food

By Vanessa R., Jackie P., Juven and Olivia

As we walked around Old Oakland, it was interesting to see the different kinds of food that they had there. In the farmers market, the stands would sell a lot of Chinese produce, like bok choy, because they had so many customers coming from Chinatown to buy their produce there. But that wasn’t the only type of foods there. They had all kinds of food. There was crepes, popcorn, tamales, Indian food, organic food, smoothies; they had a little bit of everything.

Since there were so many different kinds of people, all the stands were there to accommodate that. In farmers market there were a lot of stands that sold organic food. They were giving out free samples of food, and we really liked that! They gave out popcorn, tamales and dessert crepes and sorbet. They were good. They had a lot of different food that you could try. People were polite and nice. The biggest ethnic group we saw was Chinese, probably because we were only one block from Chinatown. There were also white people and African-American people, but it was weird because we didn’t really see Mexican people. We think that this is because they don't really know about the Old Oakland market, and most people we know are working on Friday.

During our trip to the Farmers Market, we saw a lot of people buying different things like fruit, vegetables and food. We also noticed that they were coming from different places around the Bay Area to sell things. One person told us that he came from Nevada, and a few others came from Richmond and Sacramento.

Old Oakland: Aesthetics

By Yesenia and Beatriz (Henry and Valeria were absent)

While walking around old Oakland, we noticed that this part of Oakland wasn’t so bad, speaking of aesthetics. While walking around, we saw a lot of trees and thought that made the place look good. This was an old part of Oakland, but city money has been used to keep the buildings very well taken care of. The buildings aren’t in bad condition, and the look of an old buildings makes the place look interesting.

While walking around the market, the place looked clean, except for the very full trash cans from all the people walking around and with food. Every food-seller and other sellers in their stands took care of their own stand, making sure it was clean so when it was time to leave they were ready to go.

Many people walked around Farmer's Market trying to buy things, we tried interviewing people there to see what their thoughts were about their community there. The three people we interviewed thought that it was a really clean place. They mentioned that the reason for why they think their community there is clean is because people are used to cleaning up for themselves, and there was was also a janitor that would clean after everything was over. It seemed that everyone was expected to clean up what they dirty themselves, and if they were selling something at the Farmer's Market, the people who go there try clean around their stand so it won't look dirty.

Old Oakland: Health and Accessibility

By Delilah, Amairani, Alejandro and Cinthia

On Friday, our group went to Old Oakland to interview the people there about health and accessibility. Many of the people that we interviewed were not from Oakland, but from other places around the Bay Area.

What we saw were different types of healthy food, most of them were organic. At first, our group thought that we were not going to get any interviews: we thought it was going to be hard. Our first interview was this guy at this booth who sold organic sorbet. He let us sample the sorbets and they were good.

In Old Oakland, they didn't really have stuff like clinics. We think this is because Old Oakland is more of a historic site than a business place. There were old historic buildings. Everything looked really old. They were alot of different cultures there so it had some variety. Overall, Old Oakland is a really nice place to go shop or to just look around. They have a farmers market every Friday so if you wanna check it out its a really cool place to go for organic food.

Old Oakland: Diversity

By Alejandra (Daniela and Brian were absent)

Friday was a lot of fun at our trip to Old Oakland. I never knew that every Friday we had a Farmer’s market there! Most of the sellers were from out of town, but they were all very nice and friendly. The best part of the farmer’s market was definitely the samples, yummm! I got to sample many different foods from fruits and vegetables (all organic), to granola and Indian food, and everything I tried was hella good. I think I’m SO going to start going there every Friday for some food, lol! But food wasn’t the only thing that was being sold out there, there was also this lady selling beautiful hand-made jewelry, and this guy selling African-type clothing, and "Oakland" t-shirts and stuff. The jewelry-selling lady told me that all the products being sold at the market HAD to be locally hand-made by the seller, so I thought that was pretty cool.

After all of that sampling I decided that I wanted to try some food from a restaurant near by, right in front of the market. It was a sushi place. I had smoked salmon and avocado rolls, and I also tried some chicken terriyaki rolls. They were delicious! It was great and I would definitely recommend it to others, but you would probably want to get your sushi to-go. The waiters were kind of creepy -- watching us eat our food - and not that friendly. But anyway, don’t forget to go to Old Oakland this Friday and get some yum-o food!

After the market, we went paddle-boating at Lake Merritt, which was a lot of fun as well. All my life, I have told myself that I would go out on the lake, and now look at us! I really didn’t want to do it, but I did want to know what it was like... so I did it anyway and it was such a great experience. The water, even though it’s filthy, looked very pretty. The sun was out so that made it better, and it was so relaxing. It’s the type of thing you would want to do when you want to spend some alone time, or with someone you like, to clear your mind and just relax, or just enjoy the nice weather.

Rockridge: May 29, 2008

Today, we went to the Rockridge district of Oakland. Rockridge is part of Oakland, though we didn't really feel like it was. It's right on the northern border of Oakland, and you can actually walk around Rockridge and cross the city border into Berkeley.
Rockridge felt so different than our nieghborhood, even though it is part of the same city.

Rockridge: Food

By Olivia, Juven, Vanessa R., and Jackie P.

While being at Rockridge and walking in to different types of restaurants, we noticed that the food prices were quite high for what we're used to. We asked the people there they thought that the food were reasonable, and they told us that they thought it was. The prices were sometimes more than $10 per person, and if people there think that this is reasonable, then people have more money than people in our neighborhood.

When you walk around Rockridge, you'll find a couple little markets, lots of little cafes, and a grocery store that sells organic and locally-sourced food. The small markets also mostly sell organic food, and food from around northern California. Organic food and local food seems to be very popular in Rockridge. People tend to eat a lot healthier. You can find fruits and vegetables and just healthy food in general. There was a bakery there, and a butcher shop, and it seemed that people were happy to go to all the little stores instead of one bigger one.

As we interviewed people, we found that most them don't eat fast food. If they do, it's not too often. There weren't even any fast food places that we could find, not even a Subway, which is kind of healthy for fast food. This is a lot different than East Oakland because you only need to walk or drive a couple blocks to find a few fast food restaurants, and if you ask people in East Oakland about how much fast food they eat, it makes up about half of their weekly meals. Also, organic markets are very unusual in East Oakland, though maybe it's becoming more common in some areas of Oakland.

Some of the different types of food we saw were Mexican, Chinese, pizza, and sushi. There were also a few places that sold crepes and gourmet hamburgers. There were a lot of places that you could go to and visit to have lunch, dinner and even breakfast. One weird thing we saw was that, in the one Mexican restaurant we found, there was only one Mexican person! Everyone else was Asian. This was weird for us because you hardly see anyone but Mexican people in the restaurants in our neighborhood. We're guessing that the food tasted different because there weren’t any Mexican workers working there. Most people that we aw buying the food were white, African-American and Asian. We were the only Latinos in there.

Also, we didn't see any liquor stores in Rockridge. This is Oakland? Yes, it is!

Rockridge: Diversity

By Daniela, Alejandra and Brian

When we visited Rockridge, we didn’t know what to expect. This was the first time that we visited. We didn’t even feel that it was part of Oakland. When we got off BART (train), we realized that it definitely had a different feel to it. This area was very clean, and also very calm and tranquil.

Our group topic was diversity, and for us, Rockridge didn’t feel so diverse. But it was more diverse than Walnut Creek. When we were walking down College Blvd., we saw that the majority of the pedestrians were white, but not all. We went into many of the restaurants, stores, and boutiques that they had, and the majority of the people working indoors were white and Asian. We even went to a Taqueria called "Las Palmas Fine Mexican Food” and only one of the workers was Latina! The rest of the workers were Asian. When we were looking for someone to interview, we did see a couple of African-Americans. Still, it felt like the majority were white.

When we interviewed workers at Rockridge, about half of them said that Rockridge was very diverse, not only in its ethnic backgrounds, but also culture and religion. They said that Rockridge has many different races that make up that community, and that they do celebrate other cultures holidays, which makes them more united. In their opinions, they said that they have people in many different religions, such as Catholic, Buddhist, and Atheist.

On the other hand, the other half of the people that we interviewed said that their community is not so diverse, because you don’t see as much of some races. Many thought that the minority group there was African Americans. When we interviewed a women at a clothing store, she implied that Rockridge was very diverse, yet she said the there are not many African Americans in that area. We then asked her, “so, even though African Americans are rarely seen, you still consider Rockridge to be diverse?" She replied by saying, “That’s why I said it is not diverse.” This didn’t make sense to us, because she was contradicting what she said at first. This might also be because everyone has a different definition of what diversity is. Maybe that women realized that her definition of diversity was wrong. Or maybe she just wanted to say the right thing to a group of young Latinos.

We found evidence that Rockridge wasn't economically diverse, either. Overall, pretty much everything at Rockridge was very expensive, including food, clothing, jewelry, and groceries. We ate pizza at a small pizza place and even a single slice of pizza was hella expensive. A slice of pepperoni pizza cost $3.25, and a regular drink cost $2.25. It's supposed to be a famous place (Zachary's), but at “Pizza Man” in downtown Oakland you can get both a slice and s drink for about $3.00! We actually refused to buy a drink there and went across the street to buy a drink from another shop. There were many little boutiques with really expensive clothes, like this one place that we went to where they had a plain white t-shirt for $130! Don’t ask us why, but yeah, it’s true.

So that says alot about the diversity in Rockridge, that tells you that the people there are probably very wealthy and can afford to buy things like that. We also went to a jewelry store and - omg - you should have seen the pricetags on the pieces of jewelry. They had this beautiful, long necklace with a few pearls on it and little tiny diamonds for $8,000, and a ring for $1,000. Everything was so expensive. We asked the owner why everything cost so much and he started telling us about how their stones and pearls are "exquisite" and one-of-a-kind, because they come from different countries like Brazil, and Africa, and some even from the US. He went on to explain to us how the stones were found... The jewelry was gorgeous, no doubt about it, but of course only someone with alot of money could afford to buy something like that. It was funny because as I walked out, I told the storeowner, “okay bye! I’ll come back when I’m rich!” and he laughed.

In our opinions, there is not that much diversity in the economic class in that area. For example, stores that were that expensive would not survive in a place like Fruitvale or East Oakland. When we went to Rockridge, we saw a Mexican restaurant, but there was only one Latina making the food and the rest were Asian. The food didn’t taste the same, and didn't taste like Mexican food. There weren't that many "cheap" fast foods that we know from our area, like there were no Burger Kings or McDonalds. That also tells you a lot about the people in the neighborhood, about the health choices they make, their lifestyles and incomes, and perhaps even their education levels.

Rockridge: Economics

By Yesenia, Beatriz, Henry and Valeria

While interviewing in Rockridge, we noticed that the majority of people who lived there must be people with money. We interviewed several people who owned business, and they often said they owned two locations of stores, not just one. One of the ladies owned two shoe shops, and these shoes were really expensive: there were a pair of flip-flops for like thirty dollars. Even though the shoes in this store were expensive, there were a lot of people shopping there. Another lady we interviewed owned a baby store called "Milk" and she also had two locations. When we came into this store, we thought the clothes were cute. Then we looked around and saw a baby's tiny t-shirt for $33. That's way too much!

Rockridge is a community of different people's perspectives. Some people we interviewed said that owning a home is better than renting and others would say the opposite. One person out of five people said that renting is better that owning a home. The reason why she thought it was better to rent was because, in case of an emergency or if she needs the money for something, she won't be worried about paying so much money for the mortgage of a home, and she would have money to afford what she needs. Four out of five people said that it is better to own a home just because it's something you own -- it's yours.

In Rockridge we saw different types of cars. Some people would had beat-up old cars and others would have a BMW, Jaguar or Mercedes-Benz. The more wealthy people are the ones with the BMWs and the college students were the ones with the "as long as it takes me places" car, because they don't have that much money because they're students. When we were in Rockridge we saw one place where it was three Benz's in a row, and other cars like it around. You would never see that in the ghetto side of Oakland! There were also a lot of Prius's and fuel-efficient cars. We were impressed when people told us that they don't really spend a lot of money a day. One lady told us that she didn't spend more than $10 a day. Can you believe it, $10! We usually spend $20 a day. Maybe she makes her own lunch at home so she won't spend money. Another lady told us she spend around $20 a day. That seems more real.

Rockridge: Aesthetics

By Jasmin, Vanessa B., Jessica and Ernesto

People in Rockridge seemed very respectful and nice. Most of the people we asked said yes to an interview. We think that this was the easiest place to interview people so far, even including our own neighborhood! When people passed by on the streets, they were very respectful they said "excuse me". When people saw us, they didn't act weird or look at us differently. Maybe this is because Rockridge is part of Oakland, and the community seems diverse enough so that we don't stick out. The people running the shops were also really nice, and they wanted to help us with our project. They even said "good luck" when we were done interviewing them.

The streets in Rockridge looked really clean. The streets were covered with trees, plants, and the streets even had benches to sit down. There were people walking their dogs in the clean streets, with no problems getting around or, and there were even people who were working out, running down the streets and riding their bikes.

Rockridge is a very clean place. A store owner told us that people in Rockridge pay higher taxes to make sure the street sweeper comes more often than in other places in Oakland. This is something that they have to do, and it is not a choice if they want to pay or not. There are also people that are hired to sweep around the sidewalks. They pick up trash everyday. We think that people in this area really care about how the place looks, because they all mentioned that they like how clean it is, and talked about how people were proud to live here and wanted to keep it clean. We also think that people own their houses here, so maybe they want their houses to look nice and work to keep things clean and pretty.

Since there are a lot of shops and stores in Rockridge, we decided to interview people who work in them. They told us that a lot of the merchandise they sold were made locally in Oakland. The shops were speciality shops and so there wasn't a lot to choose from. The majority of the stores were small, but there were a lot of stores that did all different things, so if you walked around a lot you could get everything you need. It did look clean and welcoming. In some stores, the things that they sold looked expensive... and they were. You would have to have a pretty decent amount of money to be able to shop in some of the stores there.

Rockridge: Health and Accessibility

by Jackie, Maria, and Laura

In Rockridge, there weren't a lot of fast food restaurants. There were some restaurants that sold healthy foods. When we walked around we saw people eating at the restaurants, and they would eat salads and other healthy things. We asked people if they thought Rockridge was healthier than other places like Walnut Creek and other cities, and they think it is healthier. We also asked why they think Rockridge is healthier, and they said that it was because of all the healthy restaurants there are, and how a lot of people walk around the shopping centers and ride their bikes.

In Rockridge, it looked obvious that people tend to exercise more than in East Oakland. We saw a lot people on their bikes. On every block, there was at least one bike outside. We also noticed that there were a lot of sport stores around. In one block there were two bike shops. Here in East Oakland, you don't see biking as an everyday form of transportation. In Rockridge biking was part of their lifestyle. I also saw a lot of people walking their dogs. In East Oakland, not a lot of people go out just to walk their dogs. Rockridge seems way healthier than East Oakland.

The accessibility for the physically disabled in Rockridge is …okay. There really aren’t any difficult pathways or anything. There were signs as to where they could go to get inside a building (which must be more than a little annoying). The sidewalks are kind of narrow, so if you’re in a wheelchair and there are a lot of people walking around outside…don’t expect to have an enjoyable time trying to get around everyone. Also, the small bumps in the sidewalks (from tree roots) would look kind of scary if you’re on wheels, or in crutches, but really natural things like that can’t be helped.

Rockridge: Safety

By Delilah, Amairani, Alejandro and Cinthia

When we first arrived in Rockridge, it didn't really feel like Oakland -- even though it is part of Oakland. But we soon started to see similarities between Rockridge and where we live.

When we interviewed one woman, she said that it was safe in Rockridge, but sometimes she sees people with obvious mental disorders walking down the streets and yelling at people or talking to themselves. Mostly, they don't make her feel unsafe, but sometimes she feels upset. She says that she mostly just tries to ignore it. Generally, Rockridge is safer than other parts of Oakland. She said that people don’t see Rockridge as part of Oakland when it is. People often think that it is part of Berkeley, which is just to the north of Rockridge (only a few blocks) and has a reputation for being much safer. She called Rockridge "a weird bubble" between the two cities.

Another woman said that she feels that people look out for each other in Rockridge to feel safe so nothing can happen. She says that there are often neighborhood meetings about safety, and, when there is an incident, the residents work to increase police patrol. She added that the police actually come when people call for help. Another person that we interviewed said that Rockridge is safe probably because of the residents, and the fact that it feels more like a suburb rather than a part of a big city. He added that it feels safe because there are a lot of resources, such as police officers patrolling the neighborhood, neighborhood watch, and the fact that people actually come out of their house when someone on the street calls for help.

Something that also makes it safe is the people, as there seems to be almost no violent crime or incidences of fighting or personal problems with other people in the neighborhood. Most people seem to be pretty peaceful, just doing their errands at the grocery store, sitting at a cafe or sitting in their front lawn -- not doing anything bad or dangerous.

During our groups interviews, we asked the question "how do you define safety"? We came to the conclusion that the way we define safety is feeling comfortable in our surroundings, and feeling as though there is nothing that can hurt us put us in harm's way. We think that feeling safe is not having to worry about going out and being shot or seeing people fighting. That makes Rockridge a pretty safe part of Oakland, in our opinion.