A communal approach to neighborhood improvement

Jun 5, 2013
http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/jalisco-restaurant/ / East Bay Express

Antonio Vasquez is chopping up a slab of pork right off a pig's leg. The whole place smells like roasted pork and corn tortillas. According to Vasquez, Jalisco’s owner, the resaturant is one of the oldest in the neighborhood. In January 1967, his dad opened the doors to Jalisco Restaurant. Vasquez has worked at Jalisco all of his life with his five sisters and two brothers.

Growing up on International Boulevard

Jun 5, 2013

Chicken salad and tostadas are the first things you smell stepping into the Lopez family apartment. Several people are sitting around a coffee table sharing a meal. Each of the tiny studio apartments houses one family. With 24 families in the building, the space is at full capacity. In the Lopez apartment, food is in the kitchen, on a makeshift table on wheels.

The Lopez family has lived in this studio apartment for thirteen years. The family moved here from Mexico. Edgar Lopez and his two brothers grew up in this apartment. 


In 2002, Oakland Mayor, now governor, Jerry Brown started Oakland School for the Arts (OSA) with the hope that students would have an outlet to express themselves through art forms like dance, theater, and visual illustrations.

Roosevelt Middle School

What is the recipe for a good education and a great school?  That is the question that drives Oakland Public High School Principal, Cliff Hong.

Hong is at the helm of Roosevelt Middle School in the San Antonio neighborhood of Oakland, which has about 650 students.

Mills College student and KALW reporter Karen Gordon met Hong a year ago, when he was in his second year as principal of Roosevelt Middle School. 

KAREN GORDON:  What is the recipe for a good education and a great school?

East Bay Express: Throwing more money at police

May 29, 2013

Oakland already directs a larger percentage of its budget to police than comparable cities nationwide, yet it's planning to spend even more money without demanding reforms.

East Bay Express: A people-focused solution

May 23, 2013

Students at Montera Middle School in Oakland said the school's eighth-grade class was full of "drama" earlier this year. There had been a fight between two girls, and the conflict had broadened to the girls' friends. Some students "were coming to school in sweats, ready to fight," recalled Yari Ojeda-Sandel, a staffer at Montera who coordinates the school's new conflict-resolution program known as restorative justice.

A year ago, KALW’s Ali Budner met Sharena Thomas and her friend Lesley Phillips, two women from East Oakland who say the 911 emergency response system in their neighborhood is broken.

In trying to find a possible solution, they co-founded group called The People’s Community Medics. Its goal is to train citizens in basic first aid so they can help people as they wait for emergency responders.

Laura Saponara

All week long we've been playing this sound, and asking you to guess what exactly it is and where exactly in the Bay Area we recorded it.

The question of who should or should not be on any given street in Oakland came to a head recently at the city’s monthly First Friday Art Murmur event. In the past few years, First Friday has grown from a small art walk to a street party that attracts more than 20,000 people.  And increasingly, they’re people who represent very different Oaklands: the one that the New York Times named one of the world’s top five cities to visit, and the one where 30 people have been murdered so far this year.

Flickr user katastrophik

A couple of years ago, Sonny Le and his five-year-old son were approaching their front gate in Oakland’s Glenview neighborhood after school when Le saw two men running towards them.

“One was trying to go behind us – the maneuver trying to corral your prey, basically,” he says. “The other one started coming right at me, at us. He put his hoodie on. It was like, OK, these kids gonna rob us.”

Breathmobile rolls relief into Bay Area schools

Apr 17, 2013
Sam Harnett

Industrial pollution in West Oakland and all throughout Alameda County can cause major problems for kids who live there. Aimed at addressing this issue, a mobile asthma clinic called the Breathmobile travels around to schools in the area.

Money Diaries: When money comes at a cost

Apr 15, 2013
Under CC license from Flickr user 401(K)

The Money Diaries is a series of stories featuring young people from Oakland and their relationships with money. Jabari Omari is a high school senior. For Omari, leaving high school comes with an emotional burden few young people have to face. His mother died after a stroke several years ago. In her will, she left him insurance money – but he can’t access it until he’s 21. So until then, he’s applying for college scholarships, and trying to figure out how to become an adult on his own.

The Money Diaries: Confessions of a Shop-aholic

Apr 8, 2013
Under CC license from Flickr user 401(K)

The Money Diaries is a series in which young people from Oakland explore their relationships with money. Zakiya Jackson is calling her story “Confessions of a Shop-aholic.” She has two jobs to help pay for her shopping habit. For one of them, she gets paid on Fridays, and the money often doesn’t last the weekend. This is her story.


Street prostitution is a major problem in Oakland, but arrest rates have dropped by 37 percent from 2011 to 2012. Nevertheless, community members remain vigilant. In Oakland’s San Antonio neighborhood, which includes some of the main trafficking corridors, residents are sick of the street scene. They’ve launched what’s called the Dear John Campaign to take on the street level sex trafficking that happens right outside their doors.

A Simple Revolution: Judy Grahn, feminist poet

Mar 13, 2013

Host and Producer Marilyn Pittman interviews lesbian feminist pioneer, Judy Grahn, whose "Common Woman" poems inspired the early 70's feminist movement. Marilyn's 1982 NPR-funded series "By A Woman Writ" profiled Judy and her work. This show will feature audio from that program of actors performing her words. Judy is now Co-Director of The Women's Spirituality Program at Sofia University in Palo Alto, CA. 7pm. http://www.sofia.edu/academics/faculty/grahn.php

Over the years, Bill Aboudi has portrayed himself as a champion of independent truckers in Oakland. The local businessman has a city contract to operate a large parking operation for big rigs at the former Oakland Army Base. But records also reveal strong evidence that Aboudi has violated several labor and environmental regulations in recent years, along with multiple city laws, and that he owes city taxpayers more than $235,000 in back rent and penalties for use of public property.

Money Diaries: Unemployed and on food stamps

Mar 4, 2013
Under CC license from Flickr user 401(K)

For the next few weeks, KALW News will be presenting stories from young people in Oakland, talking about their relationships with money. It’s part of a collaboration with the Oakland-based nonprofit Game Theory Academy, which works with low-income youth to improve their economic decision-making skills. Independent producer Lisa Morehouse worked with students at Game Theory Academy to record their experiences, in pieces we’re calling Money Diaries. 

Flickr user mk30

It’s the last day of February. That means tomorrow people will gather in the streets to celebrate arts and culture at Oakland Art Murmur’s public event, First Friday. The day carries extra weight this time around, because of what happened at the last First Friday. Things were going well until about ten minutes before 11pm, when a shooting resulted in one death and three injuries, and the incident shocked people who have been patronizing the event since its beginning seven years ago. 

Flickr user Genista

All week long we've been playing you this sound, and asking you to guess what exactly it is and where exactly in the Bay Area we recorded it.


Whether it makes you weak in the knees or weak in the stomach, Valentine’s Day weekend is inescapably upon us. Highlights include cinematic love letters to the May-December romance, 80s power ballads for jilted lovers, and one of the biggest record swaps around. When that’s all said and done, film festivals, Lunar New Year celebrations and music abounds.

Welcome to your Arts/Culture/Weekend:


Courtesy of EastBayExpress.com

For all everyone's been talking about the tragic shooting at First Friday, it's worth noting that there's still a lot we don't know. We can't yet tell the extent to which this was related to First Friday itself — that is, we don't, and may never, know whether something about the event's general melee facilitated this, or whether the suspect would have killed Campbell anywhere, and that intersection and that moment just happened to be the time and place.

Lessons for inside and outside the classroom

Feb 6, 2013

American Indian Public Charter School II in Oakland might be closing, despite its high achieving students. School administrators were found to have improperly used millions of dollars in school funds – and recently, its charter designation was revoked. 

A discussion of Oakland's fiscal health and looming pension costs.  Oakland is being challenged to find ways honor its pension and retirement obligations while providing essential city services.  How realistic is the city's Five-Year Financial Plan?  What lessons can be learned from Oakland's approach to its unfunded liabilities?

All-male PTA "Knights" seek to improve Oakland school

Feb 4, 2013

A group of enthusiastic men just finished discussing typical PTA issues at the Claremont Middle school in Oakland: issues like what their next fundraising event will be and where to hold their next meeting. What sets this group apart is the fact that it's composed of men. They call themselves ‘The Knights of the Roundtable."

Changing the lives of Oakland teens "Ever Forward"

Feb 4, 2013

“The Ever Forward Club honestly saved my life, to sum it up,” says Oakland high school student Omar Bernall.

Peter Liu, Boxcar Theater

Do you smell something funny in the air? It must be that time of year again—time for SF Sketchfest, the comedy festival that mixes national headliners, local favorites and the best up-and-coming groups for a month of sketch, improv, stand-up and alternative comedy. Besides comedic characters, this week the Bay Area offers multiple chances to boogie down with international groovers, comic artists, and a hip-hop dance party that also gives back to the community.

Fighting foreclosure in East Oakland

Nov 28, 2012

Bruce Mirken is conducting what seems like a high-profile auction in New York City.

“As you can see,” he says to the gathered crowd, “we’re auctioning this lovely Manhattan luxury condo that was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Blankfein back in 2008 for $26 million. I wish you could see the lobby of this building. It’s bigger than some small countries!”

Step inside a Fruitvale corner store

Nov 22, 2012

Corner stores in Oakland are predominantly run by immigrants from the Middle East. Most of the merchants are originally from Yemen. Some estimates report that 80 percent of Bay Area convenience stores are operated by Yemenese.

One of those stores is Foothill Market on 19th and  Foothill in Oakland’s Fruitvale district. The Hassan family runs it. Ali Farrad Hassan is a first generation Yemeni-American, and has been working in his uncle’s store for a few years now.


Oakland Unified School District has the largest enrollment of any district in Alameda County, with 136 schools and over 46,000 students. Within OUSD, about 25 percent are charter schools and this number keeps growing.

Arise High School, a charter, is inside the Fruitvale Transit Village in Oakland. The plaza looks hip and newly built. There’s a bank, senior center and a dentist’s office – not the typical setting for a high school with over 200 students. G. Reyes, one of the school’s co-principals, says Arise created a unique approach to learning.