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Kaiser mental health clinicians and patients protest long wait times

On Sunday afternoon, over 100 therapists, patients, and their supporters from across Northern California gathered in downtown Oakland to stage a vigil in front of Kaiser Permanente’s corporate office—one they said they’d run indefinitely until the corporation’s leadership takes big steps to make their clinicians’ jobs more sustainable and improve access to mental health care. Protesters in bright red shirts chanted “Mental health, not corporate wealth!” into the hot, empty plaza. They unfurled a 60-foot banner onto a low barbed…

Homesteading organization shows Oaklanders the rewards of urban gardening

It’s chock full of collard greens. And figs. And chickens. On Saturday, visitors meandered through the bushy rows of produce in the community garden at the corner of 33rd and West Streets, in the expansive lot belonging to Hoover Elementary School. Between the vegetation, visitors could see pops of color from mosaics and decorative wooden poles with glittery streamers floating in the soft breeze. Volunteers picked at a ten-foot-high mulch pile, filling loads into a wheelbarrow before spreading them across…

“Intelligent Lives” documentary screening highlights educational needs of students with intellectual disabilities

On Monday evening, parents, students and providers of special needs education in the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) gathered at the Cole Campus to watch the premiere of Intelligent Lives, a documentary by filmmaker Dan Habib. “This movie is a tool to transform and change the label of intellectual disability from a life sentence of isolation,” he said as he spoke from New York in a recorded message to the viewing audience. Parents and educators watched attentively as the documentary…

Vigil in front of PG&E headquarters in Oakland protests power cuts

On the otherwise quiet and dimly-lit Clay Street, a group of roughly 50 people gathered for a candlelit vigil in front of Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s Oakland headquarters on Thursday evening. Protestors held tea light candles as they gathered around speakers, who led the crowd through moments of somber observance, followed by chanting: “PG&E is a convicted felon!” referring to a ruling by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) that PG&E was responsible for the…

Comedians use humor to heal at Mental Health Comedy Hour

Oakland comedian Kelly Anneken says she identifies as a “triple A”— alcoholic, anorexic and anxious.  “Stand-up comedy,” she said in a performance last week, “is everybody’s last resort before suicide or grad school.”  Suicide, of course, isn’t everybody’s idea of comedy, but Anneken’s audience, there for the Mental Health Comedy Hour, laughed. Founded earlier this year by two local comedians struggling with depression and anxiety, the monthly show is the only one of its kind in the Bay Area, and is…

At California Nurses Association headquarters, an art show highlights “recognition”

As the granddaughter of Mexican immigrants, and the daughter of two proud union workers, Bonnie Castillo’s understanding of the world was forged in an atmosphere that celebrated people power through art. Growing up in Sacramento, Castillo volunteered with her mother at La Raza bookstore, a hub for Chicano community. Her family friends were members of The Royal Chicano Airforce, an artists’ collective founded in 1969 to express the goals of the Chicano civil rights and agricultural labor movement in rural…

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