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.