Health of the Hood – What Makes the Mills College Neighborhood Healthy?

The nation wide "National Night Out" campaign is just one of the activities that my neighbors organize to promote unity amongst one another in our neighborhood. Katherine Brown - Oakland Voices.

By Katherine Brown

When trying to identify what makes my neighborhood healthy, I was hard pressed to find glaring examples of what is traditionally associated with “healthy living.” There aren’t any farmers markets, open green spaces, bike lanes, etc.  The street that I live on is residential and is pretty quiet, and in some instances, kind of boring.

But considering bordering neighborhoods along nearby Seminary, which was recently on lock down due to the hunt for the culprits in an officer involved shooting, boring is not so bad. Actually, I see boring a health benefit to my neighborhood.

I have lived in this neighborhood for over 20 years, and have seen quite a few changes over time. Some folks have come and gone, but the ones that have stayed have formed a really strong bond. We look out for one another, especially our elderly neighbors that don’t have loved ones in close proximity – making sure they have enough to eat, taking them to their doctor’s appointments, or tossing their morning paper on the porch so they don’t have to walk out too far to get it. These small acts of kindness create a ripple effect of paying it forward, which is absolutely a refreshing feeling in The Town.

Over the past few years there has been a wave of new residents who have made strides to make the neighborhood safer. They have created a neighborhood listserv that keeps folks in the loop about any activity in the neighborhood – specifically alerts about break-ins or non-residents that are possibly casing homes. They have also organized the annual block party between Brann St. and Roberts Ave., along 56th Ave. – where neighbors have the opportunity to mix and mingle, share dishes, and meet some of the beat cops that patrol the neighborhood.

On my block, I also see a lot of people that live, work, or play in this area riding their bikes to and fro, walking their dogs, or taking family walks. The serenity that exists in my neighborhood can be breathtaking. In the fall, when the leaves turn auburn and red, swaying in the warm, gentle breeze, it is such a calming experience. Those precious moments and sights are reminders that there is beauty and peacefulness in The Town.

Below are just a few images of things that I feel are healthy attributes to my neighborhood. Outwardly, they may look like blights, or underutilized, but for me, they are outlets that promote health and well-being.

Author Profile

Katherine Brown was born in Houston, and her family moved to Oakland when she was 6 months old. “I am fortunate to have a loving family and an amazing community of friends,” Katherine says. “I love to help others, which is fused into my life and work.” Katherine enjoys volunteering, dance, and sports, with football being her favorite.

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