Speaking Up for East Oakland

East Oakland Photovoice Breakout Session

Across the bay from San Francisco sits Oakland, a thriving hub for music, art, and foodie culture complete with urban wineries and breweries. Look on a visitor map and you’ll notice that East Oakland is remarkably absent of things to do.

The string of seemingly-forgotten neighborhoods has potholed streets and broken sidewalks. Bars protect business windows while dozens of retail spaces sit empty. Illegally dumped trash obscures sidewalks.

The signs of pervasive poverty are the result of years of resources being diverted to more affluent or up-and-coming areas, and an ongoing lack of investment in these neighborhoods. A group of women living and raising children in East Oakland is using photography to show the impact of that marginalization and disinvestment in their daily lives. At the same time, they offer glimmers of hope and resilience.

Community Close-Up: East Oakland lifts up the voices of local women who want more people to understand the nuances of living in the area, moving beyond statistics and stereotypes. Their goal is to build a stronger community for the most vulnerable residents: their children.

“On average, a child born in East Oakland will live 10 years less than a child born in the more affluent Oakland Hills,” says Bina Shrimali, a senior researcher with the SF Fed’s Community Development department, citing data from the Alameda County Public Health Department.

Describing why it was important for the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco to publish the exhibit, Shrimali explains, “One way we can help address the pressing needs of low-income communities in our district is to provide a platform for individuals to share their stories.”

Visit Community Close-Up: East Oakland to explore the photo exhibit.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the management of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco or of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.