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


Cultural Connections said...

Oakland Museum of California to Close Temporarily Sunday, August 23

The Oakland Museum of California will temporarily close to the public Sunday, August 23, at 5 p.m. to complete its ambitious renovation. We will be ready to welcome back visitors in May 2010 with a grand reopening celebration. The transformed museum promises an entirely new look at the California experience, telling stories through the many diverse voices of Californians.

Visitors can look forward to more inclusive and interactive features in our expanded Art and History galleries, a dramatic and accessible Oak Street entrance, and new public spaces.
During the break the Museum will offer off-site and online programs.

Shannon Philpott said...

I know that this project was completed a few years ago, but I am so impressed with the thorough job of your students. Not only did they learn lessons about diversity and stereotypes, they also honed their skills in writing, photography, blogging and interviewing. You gave them a learning experience that they will never forget (and one that your community will treasure).

I hope to launch a similar project in one of my classes during the next year. Follow my progress on this blog for educators (I also spotlighted your group in a recent post): Feel free to share your thoughts and ideas with our readers.