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Hear Here: Meet DaJuan Simpson

Jan 21, 2014
Erica Mu

If you’ve visited your local library recently, you might have seen some kids listening to story time ... teenagers seated in front of  computers ... adults reading on couches ... somebody sleeping. Libraries aren’t just for quiet reading anymore.

“If we’re quiet, hush places with books only, we’re not relevant to this community,” says Oakland’s 81st Avenue Senior Library Assistant, Anthony Propernick. “I think we have to provide a safe place; we have to provide a place where people can come and hang out and exchange ideas and develop a sense of community.”

KALW’s community storytelling team Hear Here is showcasing stories from the residents of Oakland and San Francisco in a larger-than-life installation at the Oakland Museum of California next Friday, October 26 from 5pm-12am.

At KALW, we believe that telling the story of a city means telling the stories of the people who live there. That’s what our community storytelling project Hear Here has been doing in San Francisco and Oakland – and now they want to get to know the places that make these cities what they are by asking a simple question:

What’s a place in your neighborhood that means something to you – and why?

Our Hear Here team has been interviewing people in libraries throughout San Francisco and Oakland about their lives and memories. Now they want to know about the places that make those memories what they are. They’re asking a simple question: what’s a place in your neighborhood that matters to you, and why?

Ben Trefny

If skateboards are your thing, you have a new place to thrash in San Francisco: the new Balboa Skate Park. And that brings us to another installment of our community storytelling project, Hear Here. KALW's Ben Trefny swung by the Balboa Skate Park, before its official opening, to meet some of the skaters there. He met edn Bowater-Skelly, Mario Mancini, Sirdenzel Lumsey, and Vivan Nguyen there. 

Finding food can be hard for some families in the Bay Area. The producers of Hear Here, KALW’s community storytelling project, paid a visit to Oakland’s Laurel Elementary School during a monthly food distribution service for Laurel families. Hear Here producer Audrey Dilling spoke with Laurel Elementary Principal John Stangl about the challenges his students have getting enough to eat – a challenge he experienced firsthand as a child.

Audrey Dilling

The 81st Avenue Library is connected to two small elementary schools. So you can imagine how this place is abuzz with loud voices and tiny feet.

“I’ve been able to meet all these wonderful children and fifth graders, and I don’t have children of my own, so it’s a pleasure for me to be able to be a part of a child’s life and to meet kids and to just experience how wonderful they can be, especially the fifth graders,” says Senior Library Assistant, Anthony Propernick.

Erica Mu

There's one issue that both the Democratic and Republican parties are dealing with in this upcoming election: the economy. In San Francisco, the unemployment rate surpassed 7.5% in July – just short of the national average. But across the bay in Oakland, unemployment has reached a startling 14.5%. KALW's Hear Here community storytelling team recently met one Oakland resident who lost her job, but found a new way to feed herself.

Erica Mu

KALW's new community storytelling team Hear Here has been popping up all over San Francisco and Oakland to capture real life stories of people living in different neighborhoods. They've met residents of all ages and backgrounds, and together, their stories create a human portrait of these two Bay Area cities.  

In June, the Hear Here producers met Oakland native Barbara Lindsey at the Temescal Library. At the time of the recording, Lindsey was living out of her car, and she shared her thoughts on what it's like to survive on the streets of the town she grew up in.

San Francisco is home to a long line of comedians. “The earliest job I ever wanted was a standup comedian,” remembers San Francisco resident Thomas Reeve. “I did standup in elementary school or junior high, but I was always building stuff in the background. Like, I'd build model rockets and RC cars.”

Reeve has long since abandoned his standup comedy dreams, but all that building he was doing in the background as a kid – well, it's paid off. Reeve is now a mechanical engineer, and he's also the subject of this Hear Here story.

Hear Here: Meet Archie Johnson

Aug 23, 2012

Driving a bus can be a stressful, thankless job – just ask AC Transit driver Robert Hawkins, who told us in this recent Crosscurrents story: “It's like a switch turns on in your head because you know that you're getting ready to deal with a bunch of mess. Or the potential for a bunch of mess out here.”

Mat-ter + Build Studio

Anayansi Diaz-Cortes, producer of KCRW’s Sonic Trace, has an ambitious vision: to trace the stories of immigrants to Los Angeles from Mexico and Central America, illustrating how entire communities have reconstituted themselves in LA. Not only that, but she wants to do it in style.

The Hear Here project has been visiting libraries and community organizations around San Francisco and Oakland, bringing back the personal stories of people who live in those cities. At the San Francisco Main library, they discovered Chris Mason. Mason came to the library to share his story of coping with a life-altering nervous system disorder.

Listen to the full story above. 

Our nemesis, the squid

Aug 16, 2012
Erica Mu

On Friday, August 10, KALW's community storytelling team Hear Here: A Pop-Up Radio Project invited you to the first-ever "Story Slam-wich." That's right: a grilled cheese cook-off and storytelling competition. Our winning story came from Max McClure, a Stanford University science writer, who shared these thoughts on an old enemy: the squid.

If you're a San Francisco resident, there is a good chance you went to college. Over 40 percent of the residents are college graduates, making San Francisco one of the most educated cities in the country. So when we send our community storytelling team out to gather stories from locals, many have tales of college life. Our Hear Here team heard one of them from San Franciscan, Ben Nelson at the San Francisco Main Library. He shared his plan for a new kind of Ivy League university, which he first thought of as a college student.

Listen to the full story above.

No matter how long you’ve lived in the Bay Area, there are probably certain neighborhoods that you’ve never visited. Here in San Francisco, Visitacion Valley is one of those places. It’s in the southeastern most part of the city; the highway exit? Well, it’s the “Cow Palace.”

What happens when you combine local public radio, a story slam, and a grilled cheese cook-off? A recipe for a good time! KALW is bringing you a live menu of food-themed tales from professional storytellers and local residents. It's part of our new community storytelling project, Hear Here: A Pop-Up Radio Project. Be sure to stay for the evening’s three acts:

APPETIZER: Professional storyteller and radio producer hamming it up on stage

MAIN COURSE: Grilled cheese cookoff, judged by select audience members

Here at KALW, we're experimenting with a new way of producing radio, and it involves you. It's our new community storytelling initiative, Hear Here: A Pop-Up Radio Project, in which we take our microphones to local neighborhoods to listen to your stories.

Hear Here: Meet Anna Zhu and Alison Zhao

Jul 26, 2012

Anna Zhu and Alison Zhao are cousins. They shared their thoughts on family dinner in the U.S. as American-born Chinese with the producers of our new community storytelling initiative, Hear Here: A Pop-Up Radio Project.

For more information about Hear Here: A Pop-Up Radio Project, click here. You can also find the project on Facebook and follow it on Twitter at@hearhereradio

The Bay Area is known for its creativity and its critical thinkers: activists, free spirits, soul-searchers, and innovators. At Crosscurrents, we've been discovering some of these voices through our community storytelling initiative, Hear Here: A Pop-Up Radio Project. Our Hear Here producers recently popped up at the Ortega Branch of the San Francisco Public Library. There they asked the residents of the Outer Sunset District for their personal stories on food.

Hear Here: A Pop-Up Radio Project is KALW’s new community storytelling initiative in Oakland and San Francisco. We’re spending 12 months in these two cities, asking you to share your stories with us on the web and on air. Today, we’re kicking off a week of Hear Here by sharing some of the best stories the project has gathered so far. KALW’s Holly Kernan sat down with Hear Here producers Erica Mu and Audrey Dilling to get an update on the project.

Listen to their conversation above.

Hear Here: Meet Carlisle Haworth & Diana Hartman

Jul 17, 2012

We've been meeting some of our neighbors in San Francisco and Oakland through our new community storytelling project, Hear Here: A Pop-Up Radio Project. Our Hear Here producers have been popping up in libraries, food banks, and schools to capture snapshots of life in these two cities, and we've been airing some of these stories on Crosscurrents. Hear Here met the two following San Francisco residents, Carlisle Haworth and Diana Hartman at the Polish Club in the Mission. They shared these stories about food from their childhood.

The Hear Here pop-up booth is almost here! Watch our designer as he negotiates the painting (and spelling) of the giant letters.

Hear Here: Meet Jahmese Myres

Jun 26, 2012

Watch Zakary Zide, designer with Oakland firm Minsters of the Environment, constructing a part of Hear Here's mobile story structure. 

Starting in July, the Hear Here producers are taking it to the streets! ...and parks, and plazas, and other public places in San Francisco and Oakland. And they're taking their mobile pop-up booth with them!

Pop-up what?

Photo by Mariel Waloff

Back in April, Hear Here set up for its first public interviews in the community room of the Golden Gate Branch of the Oakland Public Library. Underneath the stomping feet of children's story hour going on in the library above, local residents shared their own stories with Hear Here producers on the theme of Work. Since that first recording date, Hear Here has revisited the Golden Gate library to hear more stories – and has popped up in the San Francisco library system at the Main and Ortega branches. The project also moved on to the theme of Eat.

Hear Here: Meet Josh

Jun 21, 2012

Hear Here's Erica Mu interviewed Josh (who asked that his last name not be used) about his work experience – past and present. 

What do an accidental pinata-maker, an aspiring hip hop artist, a perennial politician, and a beekeeper have in common? You can hear all of their stories, and more, this Saturday, June 2, at the Polish Club in San Francisco.

Help KALW celebrate the launch of Hear Here: A Pop-Up Radio Project at a live storytelling event. Learn about the diverse characters that make up the cities of Oakland and San Francisco through the words of oral storytellers, local radio reporters, and musicians.

Performers include:

Hear Here: Meet Austin Galvan

May 28, 2012

Hear Here producer Wendy Baker met Austin Galvan on a reporting trip in Oakland. Here's his story.

Hear Here: A Pop-Up Radio project is KALW’s brand new storytelling adventure in Oakland and San Francisco. Our Hear Here producers are popping up all over those cities to hear your stories and put them on the air. They recently sprung up in the Golden Gate branch of the Oakland library to talk to local residents about work. They met a young man trying to get his start as a hip-hop performer.

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