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Oakland tries a new way to prioritize city improvement projects: by considering equity

Rows of people sway together during a lunchtime Tai Chi session at Lincoln Square Recreation Center. Not a space is left in the full-size gym. “In and out,” the instructor chants, reminding the practitioners to breathe as they try to avoid colliding with each other and the walls.  “It’s like this every day,” says Gilbert Gong, the center’s longtime director, referring to the size of Friday’s crowd as he surveys the attendees. In the corner of the gym, he stops…

Mayor Libby Schaaf tours through Chinatown

On Saturday morning, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf visited the Loong Kong Tien Yee Association, a Chinese family association based in Chinatown. “Happy new year, good to see you all!” the mayor said to the members of the association. “Welcome, welcome!” the members responded, shaking hands with her one by one. It was her first stop that day, in her plan to visit six Chinese associations to pay respect to the community, recognize their contributions to Oakland, and celebrate the Chinese…

“Neighborhood Design Session” reveals Oakland’s Chinatown residents’ safety concerns

On Tuesday evening, about 120 people gathered at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center to attend a “neighborhood design session” held by the city. The session was a public meeting to discuss challenges in Oakland’s Chinatown and to generate ideas for the city’s “Downtown Oakland Specific Plan,” which will lay out a long-term vision for the area. “There are three big ideas that we are working with as part of this plan,” said Gregory Hodge, a social change entrepreneur at Khepera…

Refugee advocate with criminal past changes life, helps others

Nghiep Ke Lam remembers when he learned that “violence is okay.” He was around 8 or 9 years old and was living in San Francisco, California. He still often thinks of the moment when six bullies surrounded him and told him, “You have two choices.” The first choice was to fight with one of them; the second choice was to be beaten up. Lam pointed out one kid and said, “I’m going to fight with him.” They fought until the…

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