Street Level celebrates 10 years of feeding the hungry

Nov 20, 2012

Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood has a history of welcoming new immigrants. At the turn of the 20th century, the area was full of orchards and beer gardens that served as an attraction to San Francisco residents. Today, you can see colorful markets full of produce and piñatas or eat delicious tacos at one of the area’s many food trucks. Many day laborers will wait on street corners eagerly looking for any type of work. And that’s why a center called Street Level Health Project was created a decade ago.

Chew on This: Community service on the street level

Oct 2, 2012
Ella Baker Center

Many of us wonder what we can do for the communities we live in. Sometimes we feel alienated, even from our neighbors, and just want to connect. Other times, we come together for the sake of safety. We join a neighborhood watch, or pay a visit to city hall. In this next story, we meet three residents of West Oakland who are finding new ways to clean up their communities -- literally. Reporter Charlie Mintz has the story from “Chew on This,” a new project coming to KALW this fall.

Do you ever wonder how to make great ideas a reality, right where you live or work?  

That’s the goal of Chew on This – a new program being launched by KALW and hosted by independent producer Lisa Rothman.

As public schools face repeated budget cuts, many people focus on the effects on teachers, academics, and extracurricular activities. While these are undoubtedly pressing issues, there is another part of the school day that is often overlooked: nutrition. Over the past few years, Berkeley’s school district has made national news with its school lunch improvements. Now, Berkeley’s neighbor Oakland is trying to get a food revolution going, too. The Oakland Unified School District serves about 6 and a half million meals per year.


In January of 2011, 38-year-old Lamar Deshea Moore walked into the Detroit Police Department's sixth precinct and opened fire. Two officers were hit in the head with shrapnel, a commander was shot in the back, and a fourth officer was shot in the chest, although a bulletproof vest saved her from serious injury. "As you can imagine, utter chaos and pandemonium took place," Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee Jr. said at the time.

Berigan Taylor dropped by KALW to tell Executive Editor (and fellow Jazz fan) Ben Trefny the story behind Berigan’s, a little record shop in Oakland. Berigan’s was the inspiration for Michael Chabon’s new novel, Telegraph Avenue.  Taylor is a life-long record collector and still one of the Bay Area’s biggest jazz enthusiasts. As in, he could probably name every musician on every jazz recording you have ever heard.

Kyung-Jin Lee

Book lending and community gardening continues in front of an abandoned library in Oakland’s San Antonio district despite a police raid earlier this month. The historic building, a gift from Andrew Carnegie to the city back in 1918, was a branch library until 1976. Two other ventures have come and gone, but the building’s been vacant since 2001. The city says it’s not safe to use.

The blighted property has since attracted drug use, prostitution, and violence. So when activists moved in to reclaim it, local residents enthusiastically joined the effort.

Maybe you've just seen The Bourne Legacy and have nagging feeling that you're being watched at all times. Maybe you related a little too much to Close Encounters of the Third Kind. So if you see low-flying helicopters crisscrossing the skies this week, you might think the government is after you, or that the aliens have finally arrived. But the more likely explanation is that you've caught a glimpse of the federal effort to measure "naturally occurring background radiation."

Genealogy is becoming an easier field to navigate these days, with websites and organizations encouraging people to discover their family heritage.

That’s what Oakland’s Regina Mason did, but on her own. In the upcoming film Gina’s Journey, Mason chronicles her adventure in searching for her family history. Being an African American, that meant she would surely encounter slavery, which she did.

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.”

Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan is again calling for a youth curfew as a way to reduce crime in the city. The idea is backed by council President Larry Reid and Ignacio de la Fuente. But, the East Bay Express has published reports showing that youth curfews don’t work. The most recent data available from the California Department of Justice shows that felony youth crime has dropped substantially in Oakland, plummeting 26.4 percent from 2001 through 2010.

Youth Radio: "When did violence become so normal?"

Aug 8, 2012
Flickr user ControlArms, under CC License / http://www.flickr.com/photos/controlarms/7685194436/

Since the Aurora, Colorado shooting, I keep asking myself: when did violence became so normal? It pops up everywhere in American culture. We feel excited it by it when we see it on a screen. We feel proud of it when we see it in uniform, and angered by it when we see it near our children.

Ali Winston

Of the 2,000 people who initially applied for the 55 new positions on the Oakland Police force, most were from outside the city. In fact, more than 90% of the current police force does not live in Oakland, something that activists say strains community police relations and affects city resources. Oakland spends about 40% of its general fund on police – that compares with 26% spent on police in San Jose, 17% in Sacramento and 7% in Long Beach. 

Courtesy of The Spot

More of a police presence and better police community relations are good ways to prevent violence, but a group of young men in Oakland are trying a different approach. They call themselves "Warriors for Peace,” and they are part of a violence prevention program that equips and trains teens to make films about Oakland. The hope is that from behind a lens, they will see their city, and themselves, a little differently. 

Kyung Jin Lee

When the Oakland Police Department put out a call for new recruits earlier this year, more than 2,000 people applied – mostly from outside of Oakland. The applicants live in cities in the outer East Bay and in San Francisco, but they also hail from as far away as Illinois and Florida.

On the next Your Call, we’ll speak with two Occupy Wall Street activists, Jen Waller and Tom Hintze, who have been traveling across the country with their project, Less Wall, More Street -- talking to people about how to fight state repression of protest.  Close to a year after it began, has Occupy changed the conversations we’re having about the economy and our democracy?  Join us at 10am PST or post a comment here.  As the presidential election approaches, will the voices of the 99% be heard?  Up next on Your Call, with Rose Aguilar, and you.


Photo by Jen Chien

Bike culture in the Bay Area runs the gamut, from high performance racing to hipster fixies. Keeping a bike can be an expensive hobby, and as with cars, some people use their bikes as an extension of their personal style.

At ColectíVelo, a community bike shop in East Oakland, bicycles are still seen for their primary purpose: transportation. The shop provides free space and tools, bike repair training in Spanish and English, and access to bicycles for those with low incomes.


If you want to connect with huge numbers of people this weekend, you might want to make your way to Oakland’s biggest street celebration -- The Art and Soul Festival is a two-day celebration featuring live jazz, rock, gospel, and many other forms of soul music, along with art installations and film projections on the streets of downtown Oakland.

Pondering Oakland's pension dilemma

Jul 5, 2012

Add Oakland to the list of cities struggling to pay old pension debts. Recently, we took a look at PFRS -- the Police and Fire Retirement System. Let’s recap:

(Oakland Tribune)  // A UCLA Anderson jobs forecast says unemployment in California will remain in the double digits until next year...

To pay old pension debt, Oakland weighs bet on future

Jun 20, 2012

In a recent press conference, Mayor Jean Quan touted Oakland's balanced budget.

“I’m pleased to say that today we are not making any major cuts to any program,” she said. “We are not laying anybody off. In fact we are making a few modest increases.”

BART back on track after service shutdown

Jun 14, 2012
Julie Caine

After a full shutdown of service between San Francisco and Oakland since early this morning, transbay BART service is now fully restored, but the agency is warning commuters to expect delays. AC Transit spokesman Clarence Johnson said at least 20 extra buses will shuttle passengers across the bay at no cost; 511.org is reporting that these buses will run until about 6pm. The San Francisco Bay Ferry service will also deploy two extra ferries per hour.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user GHR2009

At around 10 o’clock on a brisk spring morning in Oakland Hills, Danny Cieloha and Esther Fong walk along Davenport Avenue wearing bright orange vests with a neighborhood watch logo and carrying cell phones, in case they need to snap a picture or call for help. They’re looking for  “anything that's unusual,” says Fong.

“Things like young men out of their cars, walking the neighborhood,” adds Cieloha.

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.

A second chance for Oakland's San Antonio Park

May 23, 2012
Courtesy yelp! user Richi C.

San Antonio Park stretches a full city block on each side, in a lush area near Foothill Blvd and 18th Avenue in Oakland. About 15 years ago, the park was considered a dangerous eyesore. Since then, through the help of people who care about healthy public spaces, like Grey Kolevzon it has become an important example of what can happen when people pull together to build something up.

Photo courtesy of https://www.facebook.com/lepaniquesf

What’s the point of seeing a band live? You want them to be lively, of course. And Le Panique, the band we’re featuring today, knows that. This group, from San Francisco, thinks that if the audience sees the band having fun, it will translate to them. You can check out that translation on Wednesday May 23, when they play Eli’s Mile High Club in Oakland.

Gas, Break, Pedal: A New Way To Cycle

May 16, 2012

With just a ten millimeter wrench and a screwdriver, Brian Simmons has built and sold more than 100 motorized bicycles in Oakland, CA, under the label Rebelbikes. The company has been around for three years. The two-man shop based out of the comfort of his living room.

Temescal in a time of change

Apr 23, 2012

In many ways, the Bay Area is still struggling to recover from the housing market crisis. Although some housing prices are rising, only a few neighborhoods have returned to the peaks reached in 2006. And most of them are in Silicon Valley. Richard K. Green, director of the Lusk Center for Real Estate at the University of Southern California, told the San Jose Mercury News that, “Oakland is still dead.”

On this week's BullseyeLateef the Truthspeaker - Oakland MC and one of the founding members of the hip-hop collective / record label Quannum Projects, whose members include DJ Shadow, Lyrics Born and Blackalicious.

Oakland holds town hall meeting with Too Short

Mar 20, 2012

Last month, a controversial video was posted on the website XXL with Oakland rapper Too $hort offering some questionable (and not to mention illegal) advise to young boys once they “start feeling a certain way about girls.”