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Posts Tagged ‘Oakland Local’

About that Cultural Fit: Hack the Hood Knocks Out it’s Second Annual Bootcamp!

In Culture, Technology on September 17, 2014 at 7:46 am

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Reprinted from Oakland Local, August, 18th 2014. Written by Pendarvis Harshaw. And, who’s that good lookin’ dude on the bottom of the picture?

On August 14, 2014, Oakland’s Hack The Hood celebrated the conclusion of a six-week summer program for 23 young people who all learned how to create websites for local businesses as a way to begin to train for tech careers.

The graduation ceremony was held in Oakland’s uptown neighborhood, in the new Impact HUB Oakland building. On the screen behind the stage, images of websites for local businesses were shown. The free promotion wasn’t about the locally-owned shoe store, or about the small business that specializes in dessert-making, as much as it was about the creators of the websites.

People like Arletha Grayson, a 17-year-old mother who recently graduated high school, and Teresa Flores, a student at a college in Southern California and a daughter to a hardworking mother who immigrated to the United States. These are just two of the individuals who’ve gained an expertise in web design this summer.

Hack The Hood is a technical training program, birthed out of the collaboration of a number of community organizations (Center for Media Change / Oakland Local, HUB Oakland, United Roots), and backed with funding from Google and many other funders, including The City of Oakland.

This is the second year for the organization, which runs a summer bootcamp focused on Oakland youth. Many of the young people, ages 16-20, are guided to Hack The Hood by organizations known for working with youth: College Track, Youth Uprising, United Way and Lao Family Community Development, to name a few.

This summer, the young people worked in the program five days a week, 9 – 5 every day except for Friday (when they were dismissed at 2 p.m.). Work consisted of learning the Weebly web design platform and creating websites that fit local business owners’ desires and needs.

Every once in a while, work consisted of getting out of the office for on-site visits to Google, Facebook and Weebly. “We’re not taking them there to kick it,” said Damon Packwood, Program Manager for Hack The Hood. “We want them to understand what the industry is like, and make assessments.”

Packwood continued to say that students were instructed to ask themselves critical questions during these research trips: “What is this company like? Could you work there? What if you could make something of your own?”

Packwood, one of four instructional staff members, worked alongside a team of tech-savvy volunteer mentors to aid the young people’s advancement into the world of technology development.

“Technology is re-conceptualizing culture,” said Packwood. He made it a point to stress this to the young people, many of them who came from “disadvantaged backgrounds,” be it financial hurdles, broken homes or parents who recently immigrated and struggle with language barriers.

“There’s a significant part of culture that isn’t being re-conceptualized,” Packwood said, highlighting the young members of Hack The Hood’s graduating class as valuable, because of their cultural ties, energy and talent.

At the graduation ceremony, before students were honored for their expertise in web development, they enjoyed finger foods and light refreshments near the main stage of HUB Oakland’s building. A handful of students gave speeches about their personal paths, while others shared an overview of what Hack The Hood was all about.

The event concluded with a group photo. As the students postured themselves on stage, the projected images of their websites were no longer displayed on a white wall; instead the light was now shown across their smiling faces.

For more info on ongoing programs, or to sign up or volunteer, contact info@hackthehood.org, or visit http://hackthehood.org.

Real Oakland Folks – Sarah Kirnon of Miss Ollie’s

In Black Oakland Renaissance, Culture, RealOakFolks on January 2, 2013 at 11:09 pm

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The second piece in our RealOakFolks series was posted on Oakland Local Sunday! Unfortunately, we were unable to get a video up for this one. Interviewing Sarah over the break was difficult. She was busy. We were busy. It was freezing cold out, and Bilen and I wanted to be in the house sipping cocoa and catching up on old movies. Alas, we were unable to get enough footage to make a quality piece. I was really disappointed about this because the first few minutes were really good. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get some extra footage at some point to finish the piece, but if that doesn’t happen I’m sure I can use it for something else.

Otherwise, the time we spent with Sarah was fantastic. I’m really excitied about the new restaurant and the food looks delicious. If you’re reading this and you are within spitting distance of Oakland you must eat at Miss Ollie’s in Old Oakland. Trust me!

Here’s a quick excerpt:

Since opening its doors on December 4, Miss Ollie’s has quickly become a popular standout in Oakland’s restaurant scene, with customers lining up for a taste of Caribbean comfort food in a casual format. Currently open for lunch Tuesday to Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., the menu features mouth-watering flavors inspired by Kirnon’s childhood: Curry goat with buttered collards and roasted mixed potatoes. Grits, Smithfield ham and red-eye gravy. Oxtail pepperpot, cornbread, turnips and black-eyed peas. Escoveitch fish with cassava cake. And of course, Kirnon’s legendary fried chicken, a recipe handed down from her grandmother.

Damn! I get hungry every time I read that paragraph. You can peep the rest of the article here and don’t forget to holla at us on twitter at #realoakfolks.

Real Oakland Folks

In Black Oakland Renaissance, RealOakFolks on November 28, 2012 at 11:48 pm


Great news! My boy Manny Black and I have been filming people who we thought were major contributors to the culture of Oakland for the last four years. Some of the brief little snippets can be seen here if you’re interested.

We believed the black community in Oakland was experiencing something of a renaissance and we (as in black people) needed to get out there and document it. We were especially interested in doing this because we were living right in the middle of it. Many of these people were our friends. They even lived in the same neighborhood as ours.

Well, after four years of filming off and on we’ve hit a significant step forward with the project. My wife pitched the idea to Oakland Local and they agreed to run 1-2 stories per month about Oakland’s Black Culture makers for a full year. We’re calling it RealOakFolks for short.

The first two are up and the reception thus far has been good. You can check out the video of community organizer Effie Tesfahun above and the full piece here. Effie recently wrapped up an event called “Keep Oakland In the Black” which was intended to help promote local businesses on Black Friday.

The event was a success. Effie is doing amazing things and we had a great time interviewing her. Check out the introduction piece here and stay tuned for the next two in a few weeks. Also, we’re trying to encourage everyone to keep the conversation going on twitter #RealOakFolks.