Volunteers gather at the Memorial Tabernacle Church for a lawn party to restore the church's garden on Saturday, May 6, 2017. (Yesica Prado/Oakland North)

On a warm Saturday morning, people began to slowly stroll into the Memorial Tabernacle in Oakland’s Bushrod neighborhood. They were gathered not for a morning service, but for a special kind of lawn party. Trail mix, cookies, apples, and fresh-cut pieces of banana were laid out on colorful bowls on a table, but nothing smelled more fresh than the two 4-foot piles of compost and wood mulch laid out on the road in front of the church.

StopWaste, a public agency dedicated to reducing waste in Alameda County, hosted the lawn party to revitalize the Memorial Tabernacle’s community garden, using this hands-on project to educate volunteers on how to convert a water-thirsty lawn into a fruitful garden.

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Adisa Banjoko

Banjoko once lived in Oakland and was a part of the ‘90s Bay Area Hip Hop music scene. Currently, he is teaching chess and life strategies to students at Encinal High School in Alameda through a partnership with his friend John Fuentes, who oversees the after school high school program for Bay Area Community Resources (BACR). From now to the end of this school year, Fuentes’ goal is to have Banjoko teach chess at several Oakland high schools as well.

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