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).