09.08.09 - 10.09.09: A PROFILE OF 4 SQUARES


Please join us in celebrating the completion of 10,000 Steps' first phase of green art stewardship with downtown Oakland's historic parks and surrounding communities! This multimedia exhibit, at Pro Arts at the Oakland Art Gallery (in Frank Ogawa Plaza across from City Hall) includes a wide range of exciting events, including guided walking tours and in-gallery interactive community-led demonstrations.


09.17.09: 6-8PM Artists Reception

09.18.09: 12 – 1:30PM Tai Chi Class

An all-levels class taught at the gallery by Lincoln Rec Center’s Mr. Wong. FREE

09.19.09: 11- 1PM Oakland’s Historic Town Squares

Oakland Heritage Alliance walking tour guided by Annalee Allen. Meet at the corner of 9th & Jackson Streets. Fee: $15

10.02.09: 12 – 1:30PM Mexican Lunch Con Poco Dinero

Cooking demo in the gallery by Tina Tamale, fourth generation co-owner of Old Oakland’s La Boriqueña Restaurant.FREE

10.02.09: 5:30 – 7PM Interactive Neighborhood Ecotour

Tour led by Serena Bartlett, green travel expert and creator of GrassRoutes Travel. Meet at The Pardee House, 672 11th Street. FREE

10.02.09: 6 – 8PM First Friday Reception

Save a bag & support 10,000 Steps at the same time!

All September, Whole Foods Markets in Oakland will donate a nickel to 10,000 Steps every time you bring your own shopping bag. Refreshments for all events provided by Whole Foods Market.

--- onsite : 2009-08-20 ---


Read about the our latest goings-on in Oakland North, a news site that is part of UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism: "We all take seriously our Ford Foundation mandate, which is to explore new ways to give communities back the coverage they’re losing as regional newspapers shrink–and also to be inventive about what digital journalism can do for all of us in the future."

--- onsite : 2009-06-18 ---


10,000 Steps has successfully completed its first phase of on-site nomadic stewardship of Jefferson, Lafayette, Lincoln and Madison Square Parks. We will now collaborating with the community to create Oakland’s first self-guided walking tour that will lead people to these historic parks. This walking tour will reveal the hidden cultural history of the downtown area surrounding these parks, encourage local stewardship and ecotourism, and promote a different and accessible way to engage with public green space. We want downtown Oakland walkers, residents and tourists alike, to have the chance to learn about Oakland’s vibrant community and dynamic history. We are working with an interdisciplinary team to analyze our collected materials: social anthropologist Darcie Luce, writer and artist Matthew Rana, and urban parks planner Paul Rosenbloom. The content of the walking tour will foster community dialog, making questions about the city’s open space and transformation part of the vernacular landscape. The tour will be marked with sidewalk medallions that will be steppingstones for on-going community conversations about the neighborhood: vanished architecture, current culture, history, and local ecology.

--- onsite : 2009-05-09 ---



We headed out to visit the early evening Line Dancing class at the Lincoln Rec Center. From our previous visit, we knew that the class, a weekly event, would be well attended. Matt and James, our videographers, were coming along so that we could talk to the dancers about their experience of Lincoln Park and the neighborhood.


As we were walking along 10th Street and noticed new signage: we were very impressed and surprised with their appearance! When we had originally conceived of this project, we had envisioned creating a self-guided walking tour that would be marked with just this sort of sign. We were discouraged from following this path from someone in the City, as our streets are already overloaded with visual info at this height. So, it is good to see that some department in the City decided to promote local community oriented attractions downtown.


Near Lincoln there is a very sweet community garden, full of sunflowers and edible greens.


Whenever we go to Lincoln, we always picked up some of the wind strewn sidewalk tumbleweeds, aka, stray newspapers and plastic bags. No matter that crews clear out the surrounding foliage: the trash propagation is constant.


While cleaning, we met with a community member who is part of a group that meets monthly at the Lincoln Rec Center to learn how to work with the City. They clean the streets 4 times a year and they also get training on how to respond to various emergencies. As the City’s funds disappear, it is more crucial that communities learn how to take care of their neighborhoods in various ways.


During the line dancing’s break, we interviewed some dancers about the relationship with Lincoln Rec Center. We spoke with the recently retired principal of Lincoln Elementary School, which sits next door to the park; this was her first line dancing class! She has been the principal for many years, and the school greatly benefits from the park which serves as the school’s playground. When we asked her what does she want to change about the park, she replied: “That’s a challenging question…Gilbert is so organized and it’s a wonderful place. However, we need to have more space and more staff help since more than 1,500 people use the park and center on a daily basis. I can’t think of a more well-used playground in Oakland!”

--- onsite : 2008-07-14 ---



On Monday evening, we went to the Lincoln Rec center’s line dancing class. The Rec Center, along with hosting s wide variety of activities for kids, has, in the last few years, offered classes for adults and seniors. Every Monday evening and Saturday morning, the Center’s gym is packed with Chinatown neighbors learning a variety of line dances to a wide range of music. One of the big successes of the line class, aside from it being a totally fun time, is that no partner is required!


The agile teacher, who amplified instructions are given in a mixture of Chinese and English, is sponsored by the Chinese American Citizens’ Alliance, a vital advocacy group. The CACA was started in 1895 in San Francisco “to promote citizenship, to better the community, and to combat the anti-Chinese sentiment.” Today, with lodges throughout California and other states, members dedicate themselves “to civic pride, community service, and good citizenship” by engaging in numerous community projects.


We gave a short presentation, translated by Ed Yu, President of the CACA, during the class’ break. We plan to visit the class in a few weeks to talk with some of the dancers about their memories of Lincoln Square Park. Lots of people came up to us after our presentation to learn more about the project. But then the music started again and it was time to dance!


While we at the Rec Center, we talked to Darlene Lee, the unofficial ‘park’ mom. Over her twenty-year tenure, she has taught not only sports and arts to youth, but has also helped kids learn how to resolve conflict peacefully. “But Lee goes beyond the call of duty, said Gilbert Gong, director of recreation at Lincoln Square. She also acts as an informal ‘social worker (and) parole officer, checking on the kids to make sure they are straight,’ he said.”


We were making plans for future stewardship activities with the teens. One thing that they desperately need, Lee told us, was a way to make their mark on the place. Ideally, she would love to see the small historic park building that is currently used for the Family Bridges program converted into a teen space with games, computers and a place just to hang out. The tile project at the center’s entrance is over thirty years old; Lee would like the teens to make a new mural so that their voice is present. After talking more about some of the park’s needs, we all decided that we would work on a park bench project with the kids. The park needs more benches; we would help the kids learn how to build the benches and then they could paint them as mini-murals. We are now raising money for the project. If YOU want to help, you can make a tax-deductible donation to 10,000 Steps through our partner, Friends of Oakland Parks and Recreation.

--- onsite : 2008-06-23 ---



We went to survey Lincoln Square Park on a sunny Saturday afternoon during Memorial Day weekend. Lincoln, located in the heart of Chinatown on 10th Street and Harrison, is very different from the other park squares: it has a dynamic Rec Center that hosts daily activities for kids and adults.


As we headed towards Chinatown, the city was pretty desolate. As soon as we hit 11th and Broadway, one edge of Chinatown, the sidewalks were crowded with shoppers.


It felt like this is where the city truly began.


We did a little bit of sidewalk stewardship along the way.



The majority of the park is asphalt, with a large portion dedicated to the junkship play structure, which was full of kids and watching parents and grandparents.


The rest of the park is open space for basketball and other ball games. When we were there, we saw three or four basketball games going on with black, asian and latino kids playing together.


This park also serves as the play yard for the neighboring Lincoln School as well as nearly a dozen other downtown charter schools.


From our survey, we could tell that the park is in excellent condition with no graffiti.


The only thing lacking is green space.


Agapanthus, a few grande flora magnolia trees and some Himalayan blackberries, an unfriendly invasive, fill the Rec Center’s front ‘yard’.

Gilbert Gong, the Rec Center’s director, showed us landscaping plans for the park that include adding picnic tables and benches as well as a butterfly garden. So, we agreed that we’ll work with some kids on planting a butterfly garden later this summer.


Gilbert wants help with encouraging all the hundreds of kids who use the park daily to better understand stewardship. The area can get pretty trashed. It is more than a full time job keeping the place clean. Kids from Asian Youth Services pick up trash once a month, which helps but is not enough. We’ll help with a plan to talk to kids and teachers from the charter schools in the fall.


On our way back to our cart garage, Tyranny, the owner of Verse Sneaker Boutique in Old Oakland stopped us and said, “There go the city horticulturists!” He told us he thinks it is really important for kids to have a safe place to hang.


--- onsite : 2008-05-24 ---

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