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Grants and Special Programs
Public Radio

Introduction to Public Radio Reporting, Fall 2009

Lupe Cazares: Technology seems to surround us these days and younger folks are even more likely to be spending hours Lupeof their energy on Twitter, Youtube, Myspace and Facebook. But what if teens could channel that energy into activism? That’s what the Ella Baker Center in Oakland is trying to do through their Heal the Streets Fellowship, where teens ages 15 through 18 are learning to help reduce violence in Oakland.

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Drew Crow-Bray: Drive-bys, murder, gunshots...and beauty queens? Oakland, a city Drew infamous for its high crime and homicide rates, may not typically be associated with the world of pageantry. But while beauty pageants in other cities are suffering from scandals and image problems, Oakland has seen a resurgence in interest in everything from the bathing suit competition to ventriloquist yodelers. 

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Dalia Cuenca: The Big Bad Wolf has been huffing and puffing and blowing houses down for years. Honestly, doesn’t Daliahe ever get tired? Not at Oakland’s Fairyland, on the shores of Lake Merritt, where he’s been keeping people of all ages entertained for 59 years with stories, rides and performances. And it’s not just for kids—adults can also take a journey through the magical world. Well, as long as they bring a child.  

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Rashida Harmon: Picture the toughest woman you know. Now picture her in Rashidain a mini-skirt, fishnets, kneepads and roller skates. Imagine twenty women just like her slamming into each other as they skate around a roller rink, and you’ve got a typical Roller Derby match. With names like Frank-n-Hurter and Tramplesteelskin, these women are not your grandma’s Derby Girls. They are part of a burgeoning subculture that, until recently, remained underground. So what is it really like to be part of Oakland’s resident team the Oakland Outlaws? 

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Bethan Lamb: Mothers have been telling their children to eat their fruits and vegetables for decades, but until this year, Bethanthe federal government, which provides many low income families with food, wasn’t sending the same message. Women, Infants, and Children, or WIC, a program started in the 1970’s, provides food vouchers to low income women with children. Last month, a landmark policy was finally implemented—to include fresh produce as one of the essential food categories that women can purchase with their vouchers. Bethan Lamb went to find out why it took so long for the program to catch up.

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Lindsey Lee Keel: If you’re looking for an entertaining night out, you might start by deciding Lindsey what kind of performance you’re interested in attending. Maybe you’re into listening to poetry, or standup comedy, or rap. But you don’t have to choose. In a warehouse space near the Oakland waterfront, there’s a show that combines all of those—and more.

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Tashina Manyak: In some neighborhoods of Oakland, opportunities to earn a living in the formal economy are Tashinalimited. So some young people turn to the streets for money. For teenage girls, this often means prostitution. Currently, there are hundreds of underage prostitutes on the streets of Oakland. Many of them were coerced into sex work by older boys and men. While prostitution is technically a crime, some local activists are pushing for children and teens involved in the sex trade to be seen as victims of sexual abuse instead of wrongdoers. In January 2009, new legislation went into effect to do precisely that; yet certain advocates question its success. In this report Tashina Manyak talks to the people working directly with these minors to find out what they have to say.

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Camila Perez: Sex, drugs, homework. These are among the obstacles facing today’s teens in their Camiladaily lives. As soon as they get into high school, and sometimes before, teenagers are faced with difficult decisions that can have a definitive impact on their futures. That’s one reason the Obama Administration has proposed a one hundred and ten million dollar Teen Pregnancy Prevention initiative in its 2010 Health and Human Services Budget. This initiative is intended to replace programs that have mostly been promoting abstinence-only sex education with a more scientifically based approach. The Peer Health Exchange, a non-profit created to help inform teens in public schools where health education is unavailable, is helping to move this agenda forward. Though California’s education department requires public schools to have comprehensive health education, many in Northern California don’t. Last year, the PHE launched a program in nineteen Bay Area public schools—sixteen of them in Oakland—that previously had no health programs. 

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Anna Belle Peterson: How would you like to go on an afternoon stroll six feet above the final resting places of “The Black Dahlia,”Anna Bellethe founder of the Oakland Tribune, and the rapper Mac Dre? The Mountain View Cemetery on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland offers this opportunity and is a beautiful setting for all people—alive or dead. Run by a community association since 1863, the cemetery grounds are open to all visitors and can be toured with docents. Anna Belle Peterson reports on the many ways people use their local cemetery.

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Morgan Ross: The recession has been especially hard on homeless shelters. More people are seeking their services,Morgan but at the same time, donations have decreased. So some organizations have chosen more creative ways to raise money. One of them is the Oakland branch of Covenant House, a national network of shelters for homeless youth. Every year, the shelter holds a fundraiser, usually in the form of a silent auction. But when the time came for this year’s fundraiser, the kids at the shelter wanted to do something new, a little different…In honor of the late king of pop, Michael Jackson, the teens decided to hold a dance-off to raise money and awareness about the shelter. The prize for the winning team? Tickets to see “This Is It,” the posthumous movie documenting Jackson’s final performances.

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Kate Ruprecht: On the first Friday of every month, the streets of downtown Oakland are transformed intoKate a festival celebrating art and performance. It’s called “art murmur.” Vendors and musicians fill the streets, and galleries lure passersby with wine and snacks. Typically those galleries stock ultra-contemporary art—the kind of thing that would look good in a sleek loft apartment. But during a recent art murmur, one gallery took a different approach. At Rock, Paper, Scissors Collective, all of the artists whose work was on display are on death row or serving a life sentence for crimes they say they didn’t commit.

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Priscilla Wilson: Situated between downtown and the wharf, Chinatown is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Oakland. It has been a bustling hub of the city for over one hundred years. Today, it is a pedestrian-oriented multi-ethnic neighborhood—and some say the community represents a model of sustainable development. But, the history of this place hasn’t been documented much—until now. The Chinatown-based Oakland Asian Cultural Center has started “The Oral History Project.” The mission is to preserve the living history of Oakland’s Chinatown through dialogue and memories.

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