All posts filed under: Change

Kids of Incarcerated Parents Speak Up

Millions of children live with one incarcerated parent. We don’t see what’s missing in their lives. We don’t hear what they need from the adults around them. Until, Project WHAT! (We’re Here and Talking), family members, teachers, lawyers, social workers and doctors lacked the children’s view of how best to support their specific needs.  I sat down with Project WHAT! alum and Program Associate Alisha Murdock to learn more. (Photos by photographer Ruth Morgan from the Sentence Unseen exhibit, running through January 23rd at the African American Museum and Library in Oakland) How did Project WHAT! come to your attention? Alisha Murdock: Both my parents were in and out of prison a lot. My friend told me about it because she was in the program, and she learned about it at school. She was going to El Cerritto High. From being in the program, I hear that people find out about it from school counselors or word of mouth. For me, staying connected with Project WHAT! has meant a lot because it is a family.  …

Open Heart, Open Table in Tri-Valley

Food connects us, especially at this time of year. In Contra Costa County, food links hundreds of organizations and businesses bringing free nourishment to those who need it most.   Through word of mouth, I’ve come to know a number of groups helping to feed the community. I first reported on Loaves and Fishes of Contra Costa who referred me to White Pony Express with its hundreds of volunteers crisscrossing the county delivering fresh quality food seven days a week.  White Pony Express next referred me to their fresh fruit supplier, The Urban Farmers. The Urban Farmers spoke highly of Open Heart Kitchen that serves their fruit with free hot meals every weekday and packs it in their weekend bagged lunches for kids to eat when in school. I met with Linda McKeever, executive director of Open Heart Kitchen at Vineyard Christian Fellowship to learn more about the organization. We sat in the dining room in front of a window where clients were picking up Thanksgiving parcels, including donated turkeys for their holiday meals. The Kitchen rotates …

HIV/AIDS AIDS public health alameda county

Ending HIV/AIDS in Alameda County

For Rosetta Randall, diagnosed with HIV four years ago, consistent and personal health care has improved her life. “Considering the lifestyle I led, now I can be here for my kids and my grand kids.” At a gathering in Berkeley on Tuesday, patients and community health providers marked 25 years of the Ryan White CARE Act that brought affordable health care to people living with HIV/AIDS. The legislation, passed in 1990, was named after Ryan White, a 13-year-old boy diagnosed with HIV. In Alameda County, the HIV ACCESS network of community health centers and the Alameda Health Systems public hospital deliver these services. It operates within the broader Alameda Health Consortium that supports the network by boosting collaboration, advocacy and analysis. Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson spoke of the power of a network. “We have to ensure that our community-based network… not only treats individuals who have HIV and AIDS, but is also out there helping to deal with prevention. It’s not alone, it’s connected to our school system, it’s connected to our senior centers, …

A Foundation for Life – Habitat for Humanity

A friend of mine got lost in Martinez recently and stopped at a building site off Pacheco Boulevard to get his bearings. “Man, I want to come back here and shoot pictures of this place,” he told me. I stole his idea. This is what we call story development at BayMozaic.  I contacted Erin Spaulding at Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley (EBSV) to ask about the Muir Ridge development. She told me the project matched a natural need for affordable housing in the far reaches of the East Bay, as housing costs have gone up across Alameda, Contra Costa and Santa Clara Counties. In an area where land is hard to come by, Habitat for Humanity EBSV was able to take over an existing development site in unincorporated Martinez. They broke ground a year ago and will complete the second phase of building twenty homes in late May 2016. Most of us have heard about Habitat for Humanity, and I was curious about Erin’s personal and emotional connection with the organization. Erin Spaulding: I …

Bay Housing Roundup: Organize for Change

In the last three weeks I’ve made my way around the bay attending discussions on the housing crisis here. It’s a topic we keep raising on BayMozaic, a topic that won’t disappear until solutions take root. Here’s a roundup based on my latest road trip of citizen advocate, expert and government views from Richmond, Concord/Walnut Creek and San Francisco. (Also making headlines in the last few weeks, Oakland made affordable housing part of its deal to bring Uber to town and it also passed its Housing Equity Roadmap.) Concord/Walnut Creek: Push the Municipalities “Land use is a local decision,” said Mariko Yamada, former California Assemblywoman at a recent meeting of the Diablo Valley Democratic Club. The housing crisis, in large part, gets solved at home by showing up and voicing opinions at local councils. It’s about organizing. Yamada was filling in for a canceled speaker. As a past member of the Assembly’s Housing and Community Development Committee and Chair of the Assembly Aging and Long Term Care Committee, she made a formative stand-in. With maps …

Rethinking Logevity with Repair Revolution

I slung a nine-year-old pair of jeans (yes, nine) over my left shoulder and my camera over my right. My mom’s 46-year-old watch was on my left wrist and a great aunt’s old, old opal ring on my right hand. Longevity, for me, means keeping stuff I want, either for its meaning or for its worn in perfect fit. But keeping stuff and not having to buy “new” means the need for periodic fixing. It goes like this: You have that thing you need to repair, you are too lazy, ill-equipped, unaware or unskilled. So, that great thing just sits there, busted. Or, you go to Target and buy a sad substitute. More waste, more unneeded acquisition of stuff. Multiply this scenario by a ton of people. In comes Repair Revolution to help us keep the stuff we love and reduce waste. It aims to bring repair under one roof where skilled craftsmen repair a range of goods. On Saturday I took my broke-down jeans to the Repair Revolution pop-up salon, hosted at OwlNWood in …

urban farmers san ramon harvest

The Urban Farmers Broaden Harvest

Some good grows from crisis. The idea for The Urban Farmers sprang up in the wake of the 2008 economic crash when Siamack Sioshansi’s son and his college roommate returned home to find their jobs as YMCA counselors eliminated. They decided to design a social justice project. To learn about their mission and how it’s evolved, I joined Siamack for a harvesting in San Ramon where he guides Boys Team Charity Lamorinda League in shaking down some trees. He tells the story: Social justice and environmental justice are one and the same. If someone says, I want to feed this group, but I’m going to import food, if they are destroying the environment, the first victims of that action are the poor. So environmental stewardship was a big part of the project. We asked, why don’t we plant a garden in people’s backyards, give them a basket of food, and donate the rest to people that need it? I was worried that nobody would let us in. The boys wrote a business plan, and what …

housing crisis affordable housing Oakland East Bay Area

Housing Leader Takes the Helm

The debut of evening rain in the Bay marked the debut of Gloria Bruce as executive director of East Bay Housing Organizations (EBHO). Supporters and the curious, including me, came out to meet her and party with the EBHO staff and board. I could hear them from around the corner, as board members extolled Bruce and the crowd cheered statements for urgent solutions to Bay’s crushing housing crisis. Oakland’s Mayor Libby Schaaf also turned out for the festivities. Building strong communities starts at home. Bruce thanked her wife and gave a shout out to her two boys as the foundation of home. She also cited her father, a Washington, DC native like Bruce, as inspiration in shaping her stance on advancing cities where people “are not lost.” Two paths brought me to EBHO. First, its encyclopedic policy director Jeffrey Levin generously helped me in my research for the Zero 2016 campaign to end chronic homelessness in Contra Costa County. Second, in my accidental conversation with him, Representative Mark DeSaulnier referred me to EBHO as a …

getting engaged media investigation

Editor’s Letter – Let’s Get Engaged!

It’s BayMozaic’s half-year anniversary and we are considering getting engaged. Since setting out on our publication adventure in March, Co-Editor Gohar and I have been refining on the fly. We have a mission to guide our content, but confess that data hasn’t played a big (or even small) role in our decisions. In a grand gesture of denial, I tell myself that she and our tech guru Tigran can do that anytime we want. We haven’t. So, it’s high time we got engaged. With our audience. But how? For inspiration and schooling, I attended a Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) event, Dissection 1: Impact. No, we are not an investigative reporting site (you know that already) but could learn from journalists about how they engage with readers and track response. CIR’s Lindsay Green-Barber suggested that stories or series of stories might hit one of three levels of impact: Macro – new policies are born Meso – changes the discussion/discourse about the issue Micro – individual changes (an individual boycotts grapes, for example) Their journalists seriously …