Introduction to Public Radio Reporting, Fall 2008
Mical Asefaw: The Oakland Unified School District has big budget problems. It's 70 million dollars in debt... and that has a lot of consequences. One of them is bureaucratic mismanagement, which can mean big hassles for students. In fact, some student records have been lost- that's what happened to Ronald Johnson.
Amanda Brush: Just around the corner from 51st Street and Telegraph Avenue, a grassy path leads to the door of Oakland's Tool Lending Library. In the small four hundred square foot space in the basement of Temescal's North Oakland Public Library, you can borrow more than just books. With proof of residence, you are given a simple sticker and you are ready to borrow tools. This project has been providing valuable services to Oakland, Emeryville and Piedmont since the year 2000, and has made it possible for residents to repair and renovate their homes while getting to know each other better.
Christy Carter: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed a budget that includes major cuts to programs, such as MediCal, that help low-income Californians. The good news is, some services that rely on private donations for funding are still going strong. The Safe at Home Program provides low-income seniors and disabled people in Oakland with home safety equipment such as fire extinguishers and handrails. The group has plenty of funding, but the catch is, it's having trouble finding customers...
Jennifer Courtney: It's official—the American economy is in a recession. With stocks plummeting, foreclosures on the rise, and consumer spending down, Oakland residents are feeling the pinch. But it's not just the humans in this story who under stress. Often, it's the household pets too. At some Bay Area shelters, rescuers are seeing a surge in animals needing homes, but residents aren't looking to adopt more pets.
Alexandra "Alex" Cruz: Most of us think of higher education as a ticket to higher income. What we don't always consider is that one of the biggest factors in determining who goes to college is whether his or her parents got a degree. That's why college counselors can be so important in a high school kid's life. Today we're going to introduce you to Frankie Ramos. She's a counselor at Unity High School in East Oakland, California. But she doesn't spend all her time in the counseling office. She also helps teach a college prep class—which gives students one-on-one assistance with their college applications. Alex Cruz went to Unity High to explore this unique classroom.
Maya de Verteuil: East Oakland is known for its tough urban streets. But right in the middle of the neighborhood is an innovative after school program that offers an alternative hang out for local kids. Located right next door to Castlemont High, Youth Uprising offers a host of programs for youth—from dance classes to college and career counseling, even a free health clinic. But its most popular attraction is the Media Arts program with a state of the art recording studio. Maya de Verteuil reports on this program, which is providing an outlet for budding Oakland musicians.
Anneka Huntley: Obesity rates are on the rise for America's children, and Oakland is no exception. These youth face what Oakland's Public Health Institute calls "California's obesity crisis." But several groups in Oakland are working to make a change in the lives of Oakland's youth by providing free, after school, community sports programs for kids. Anneka Huntley brings us a profile of one such organization.
Alyssa Ilves: As incomes, home values and 401K's have plummeted, the cost of food has gone up, up, up, and consumers say they are feeling it. But how much does it take to change a shopper's buying pattern? Reporter Alyssa Ilves went to Oakland and found that while wealthier consumers have made few adjustments, those at the lower end of the income spectrum are scrambling.
Patricia "Trish" Jetson: In the Black community, hair salons are the equivalent of social clubs found in other communities. Think of rapper Ice Cube's 2002 movie Barber Shop. In beauty salons, conversation flows freely from hairstyles, to church, to politics. But with the economy crippled by record-setting foreclosures, soaring food prices, and sky-rocketing unemployment, businesses in crime-ridden communities are taking a hit. Trish Jetson reports on how one East Oakland hair stylist has been affected by the downturn.
Sara Beth Lindsey: The economic downturn has been especially hard for low income people. Job loss and rising food prices have left increasing numbers of Bay Area residents in need of food. Bay Area Food Banks are reporting unprecedented numbers of people calling asking for food assistance—some report a fifty percent increase in requests over last year. Many callers are looking for assistance for the first time. And Food Banks are scrambling to connect hungry people with soup kitchens and food pantries.
Tracy Peerson: California's proposition 8—which banned same sex marriage in the state-has reignited the debate over gay marriage. The state supreme court will rule on the legality of Prop 8 soon and its implications are being contemplated all around the Bay
Daniella Pineda: In California, it can seem like we'll never escape the threat of sudden earthquakes or great fires. But even when no major disaster is at hand, firefighters and paramedics have to deal with the everyday emergencies that choose unlucky victims like you and me. For Firefighters, going to work is a little like going to war. Burn victims, overdoses, CPR, hip fractures, panic, and nausea. It takes brave men and women with a strong stomach to perform everyday. Reporter Daniella Pineda rode along with an Oakland firefighter to find out just how these rescuers go about their demanding and often dangerous work.
Lauren "Chibo" Shinagawa: Proposition 4 was a controversial initiative on the November 2008 ballot. It would have required a physician to notify a minor's parents within 48 hours if she got an abortion. One Bay Area group thinks that's a dangerous idea. Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice believes such a rule would be harmful to young Asian American women in the Oakland community.
Belen Trigueros: News of the recession is on all the front pages these days. What gets lost is a story that's been going on all along—the story of illegal immigrants and their struggles to build a life in this country. Here in Oakland, one lawyer has made it her mission to help immigrants assert their rights.
Hazel Utevsky: The neighborhood of West Oakland has gone through a lot of changes over the years. For decades, this part of town has been neglected by city funds, and slipping into disrepair. Some no longer consider it safe at night. But these days, the neighborhood is getting more attention. Some community members are taking action to restore West Oakland to its historic vibrancy. In one corner of the neighborhood, a skate park and mural gallery are being built where before there was nothing but pavement.
Joy Wheeler: Artist William Scott's resume reads like a who's who of the contemporary art world: from The Armory Show to Art Basel Miami Beach and the windows of Barney's New York. And he owes his success to a place called Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland. As Joy Wheeler reports, that allows people who might not otherwise have had the chance—to express themselves creatively.Listen to Joy Wheeler's story
Katherine Wohlmut: Amidst the doom and gloom of losing our homes and investments, it seems as though happiness itself has become a precious and rare commodity that must be paid for...every time we go out to the movies, or to a nice dinner on the town. However, there's a community in Oakland that's been giving away free happiness since 1925.
Listen to Katherine Wohlmut's story
Sena Woodson: For most of us, the teenage years can be an awkward and difficult time. Three out of ten teenage girls become pregnant at least once before the age of twenty. And girls who grow up in low-income areas, like parts of Oakland or Alameda, face additional challenges. Statistically, teenage girls in these areas are more likely to face abuse, pregnancy, and drug addiction. The nonprofit Girls Inc. was created specifically to help young girls from low income areas make the transition through adolescence more smoothly, while giving them a chance for success.Listen to Sena Woodson's story