By Sabirah Mustafa – I began my journey through my family’s neighborhood in the Lake Merritt area of East Oakland. My starting point was on Lester Avenue. This diverse, working-to-middle class, ethnically mixed neighborhood, is what I’d like to call the “Oakland Riviera”. The name might seem misleading, because depending on which direction you walk, you might also find blight as well. Located within a three-block area of Lake Merritt, there is plenty of contrast – so much so that at times my journey felt like I crossed city limits into an entirely different town.
By Michael Holland – The overall health of the area in my opinion is poor. From diesel fumes, loud music, questionable people hanging out on corners, closed businesses, and a wealth of discounted cigarettes, the hope lies only in the fact that people going to work during the week will attract services in the future.
By Sheila Blandon – My neighborhood is one long narrow block. The streets are very close together with long blocks. There are a lot of homes with families, only a few apartments. The streets are kind of clean – cleaner than other neighborhoods around the East. The block of 69th avenue is pretty friendly and welcoming. There are always a lot of people outside. We sometimes throw BBQs in front of our home on the porch.
By Ronald Owens – The neighborhood is primarily residential, with single family homes on Walnut Street. Walking west on High Street from Walnut Street, the residences are mostly apartment buildings and there are a funeral home and a few retail stores, including a Laundromat, a hair salon, a pizza joint, a couple of auto repair shops, and a used appliance store.
By Katrina Davis – I’ve lived in this neighborhood since I was 2 years old. It’s pretty quiet and suburban. I know some of my neighbors, and they even come over from time to time for events. The crimes that happen here and there are mainly break-ins, but other than that it’s pretty quiet. Everyone seems to have a pretty nice front yard and keeps it up.
By Katherine Brown – The atmosphere of the room is thick with joy and hope. Young women donning colorful, flowing gowns, and beautifully coiffed hair, laugh and giggle as they line up for group pictures. Young men in tailored suits, and hair neatly trimmed, shake hands and greet each other as they enter the room.
By Katherine Brown – Each of our correspondents took roughly a 3 square-block walk around their neighborhood, taking stock of the area’s services, stores, homes, schools, and especially how people in the community were living their lives. The goal is to give real, detailed texture to our understanding of the quality of life in East Oakland’s neighborhoods from the perspectives of people who live there. These pieces were done in conjunction with Oakland Tribune Violence Reporting Fellow Scott Johnson’s Oakland Effect project.
By Jian Di Liang – In general, my neighborhood is really quiet. The streets are narrow and clean. The restaurants, school, stores and so on are mainly located on MacArthur Street. Not a lot of people are on the street. Some people just drive by or walk with their dogs. Compared to Laurel Street, few trees are planted on Georgia Street.
By Howard Dyckoff – In my neighborhood, there are no bookstores, or supermarkets or restaurants. There are no dress shops, no dry cleaners, no pharmacies or drugstores. These services lie a mile or two or three away, some still in Deep East Oakland, but not very close by.
By Edward Cervantes – Starting on Merritt Avenue and walking down the Cleveland Cascade to Lakeshore Avenue, I head south along Lake Merritt, where people walk, jog, and bike along designated paths at almost any hour of the day.