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We will send occassional updates about the project and let you know when more stories are posted:

Dear Friends, Family, and Colleagues:

 

A story is one of the most important gifts one generation can give to the next.  That is why I have created Our Oakland: Eastside Stories, an integrated public art project for that will create a digital archive of hundreds of stories for the new East Oakland Community Library. 

 

I would like to ask for your help in building this new community resource.  Your donation will help us reach more families, record their stories, and ensure that this archive reflects the vibrancy and diversity of the East Oakland neighborhood. 

 

Each video, photo and audio recording in the archive will be unique to the storyteller, but will merge to create a dynamic shared history, like a drop in a wellspring.  My hope for Our Oakland is that it will offer a new image of a neighborhood that is often described only in bleak terms.  Though we are faced with many challenges, this is a time for hope.

This past October, I invited 16 families to give the City of Oakland the gift of their stories at a pilot event.  They were generous with their stories.  Even as they shared the hardships of living in a neighborhood plagued by poverty, illiteracy, and crime, many storytellers expressed hope for their children and themselves.  Many walked away with a sense that by telling their story, they got a little bit closer to building a better community.  Click here to see rough cuts of their stories.

 

Fannie Brown recalled her childhood growing up in Mississippi on a plantation. She also talked about how East Oakland became her home in the 1960’s, and how she later became an educator, school-founder, and all-around community leader.

Michael Angelo Ramirez recited his School Pledge for us, wearing a stethoscope that symbolizes his dream of becoming a doctor one day.

 

Minh-Tram Nguyen, principal of EnCompass Academy, talks about her philosophy of educating the whole child- Mind, Body, Spirit and Emotions, and the challenges and rewards of working in East Oakland

 

We have many exciting plans for this project, including public community storytelling events, a new social networking website, and an online contest to gather new content and help spread the word.  And when the new library opens in Fall 2009, the archive will be featured in a dedicated interactive pod that will be accessible to all library visitors.  We are collaborating with a growing circle of community partners such as ACORN Woodland Elementary School, EnCompass Academy, Friends of the Oakland Public Library, Youth Uprising, and 100 Families Oakland to make all this happen.  Each partnership ripples out to a new community, and each story to a new listener.

 

Gifts are meant to be passed on.  Please help us spread the word about this important project.  And please help us build it with your donation to Our Oakland.  We need to raise another $5,500 to recruit storytellers, record their stories, and build the archive for future generations. 

 

Would you consider making a donation of $50, $100, or $250

to help us achieve our goal?

 

Thank you for your generosity.  You are helping create something of lasting value for a community in transition.

 

Sincerely,

 

Rene Yung