Community

On your mark. Get set. Paint!

The Queer Healing Art Center buzzed with excitement on Saturday as artists prepared their bright white canvases, paintbrushes, and acrylic paint for an Art Battle.   This was the Queer Healing Art Center’s one year anniversary of hosting Art Battles — live competitions where artists paint blank canvases while surrounded by an audience. “As soon as the paintbrush hits the canvas, everyone is electrified,” said Kin Folkz né Monica Anderson, the center’s co-founder and executive director of the Queer Healing Art…

‘This event recognizes us’: Seniors flock to Oakland festival promoting health and wellness

The 19th Annual Healthy Living Festival, Alameda County’s largest event for seniors, returned to the Oakland Zoo Thursday for its first in-person event in two years. Hosted by United Seniors of Oakland and Alameda County, the free festival featured 80 vendors and promoted health and wellness among adults over age 55.  Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, who was one of the festival’s founders, noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has been especially difficult and dangerous for seniors. “This event allows them…

‘Culture is healing’: Native American Health Center celebrates 50 years in Bay Area

Charlene Harrison hadn’t danced at a powwow in 10 years. But on Saturday, the site director at Oakland’s Native American Health Center wore her jingle dress, stepped into the grass circle at Merritt College, and danced alongside family members underneath a burning sun.  “I’m a third-generation powwower,” said Harrison, who is Pomo, Paiute and Navajo. “This is what I know. So slipping on those old bear shoes, it feels right.”   Thousands of people came out to celebrate NAHC’s 50th birthday…

Ceasefire walkers in East Oakland say it’s their way of doing something about the uptick in gun violence

Cars along International Boulevard honked their support Friday night as about 15 people walked down the sidewalk holding signs that read “Stop the Violence” and “Love One Another.” The group pleasantly greeted passersby as they strolled block by block through the East Oakland neighborhood. Oakland Ceasefire night walks started 10 years ago, with groups that sometimes number about 100 walking through areas most affected by gun and gang violence. The walks, which returned in September 2020 after a pandemic break,…

Earth day cleanup in Oakland: “If it’s helping my community, I can’t say no to that.”

When they arrived at the Rockridge-Temescal Greenbelt, aka FROG Park, on Saturday morning, Alya Davidman and her 6-year-old daughters Evelyn and Josephine Ellis-Davidman found a group of over 100 volunteers hard at work raking leaves, pulling weeds, and picking up trash across the narrow greenway tucked between a row of houses, the DMV and the Temescal farmers market in north Oakland  Josephine and Evelyn, waddling with bright orange trash pickers in one hand and garbage bags as big as their…

Once a last resort, hunger strikes now used to pressure local officials in Oakland

Hunger striking may be most well known as a political tool used by suffragettes and Irish prisoners, which is why it caught some off-guard recently to see it being used in Oakland to influence a school board decision. Two Oakland Unified School District employees launched a hunger strike in response to proposed school closures in January, signaling that the once drastic measure may change the way communities protest local issues. “Oakland Unified now faces the prospect of many future hunger…

East Oakland foundry pollution spurs two lawsuits to protect community

The state of California and an Oakland-based environmental group are suing the pipe casting facility AB&I Foundry for reportedly emitting excessive levels of a carcinogenic chemical into East Oakland’s air.  Both lawsuits, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, accuse the foundry of violating California’s Proposition 65 — a law requiring businesses to warn people about significant exposures to harmful chemicals. The state’s lawsuit, filed by Attorney General Rob Bonta on Feb. 15, states that McWane Inc. operating as AB&I Foundry,…

Parents, students, teachers make final push to keep their schools from closing

The Oakland Unified School District board is expected to vote Tuesday night on a controversial proposal to close or merge up to 15 schools in the next two years to help shrink its budget deficit.  Over the weekend, parents, students, educators and community leaders rallied at campuses at risk of closure in a last-ditch effort to persuade school board members to reconsider the plan. Oakland Unified has experienced enrollment declines and budget shortfalls in recent years. Pressured by the Alameda…

Protesters rally outside OUSD directors’ homes against plan to close schools

A caravan of vehicles that stretched for blocks paraded through the streets of Oakland Thursday evening, honking in solidarity against the Oakland Unified School District’s plan to close eight schools and merge others.  The caravan slowly made its way through the streets, stopping at the home of OUSD Director Sam Davis, where dozens of people, old and young, showed up with handwritten signs and posters that read “No School Closures!” After protesting for an hour, the caravan moved across the city to…