Tag Archives: postaweek2011

Oakland Mystery: who is doing this?

Oakland, have you seen this in your neighborhood?

I first saw this as a wall photo on a friends Facebook Account and thought it was awesome. Now, months later,  I was pleasantly surprised to find this wonderful poster on a pole!  Have you seen this? If not here is what it says:


Dear Friends:

It is up to you what the future of Oakland will be. Oakland is no longer a village. It is a city, a growing one. It is your duty to keep it growing, to keep it prosperous.

Oakland, with it’s wealth, beauty and brilliant future, is an ideal attained by pioneers who struggled for years over innumerable hardships. The cement, the steel, the mortar and glass and the thousand and one things which go into Oakland, was not conceived overnight.

I realize the future of Oakland is far beyond human imagination. I thank you for your wonderful work. So partake of her hospitality and prosperity, invest, build, prosper and live happy in Oakland.

Your well wisher,



Written and Compiled


Florence B. Crocker

Published in Oakland


Clyde Dalton, 1925

My inquiring mind wants to know.. who is doing this??

Is our Guardian Angel Florence B Crocker? Or is Clyde Dalton riding his wheel chair throughout Oakland and putting up posters (no offense but Clyde would be pretty old by now)?

OR is our Guardian Angel someone else altogether. Who are you???

Dear Readers: Have you seen this on your street? Comment and let me know where! Share with your online friends. Lets create an online map!

Dear Guardian Angel: Am I ruining your purpose by posting it on the internets? Let me know. I can delete the post… but I want to help you. I think having an on-line presence would be a great way to help spread your word.   Tell me your plan. Can I help you run around town putting up posters?  I’m nozy..but I won’t tell anybody if you don’t want me to. 🙂

=====UPDATE 9 Hours Later =======

We know the who..sort of. A vender of Grand Lake Farmers Market  and owner of the following website: http://whomadeoakland.com/Home.html    is our Guardian Angel.

Gene has posed this question though: “The real question is, did they install any of the associated art/signs, and is any of it still about? It’s a great idea, building on 90-year-old Oakland love.”

What say you readers? Have you seen any artwork associated with this project? I still want to know what neighborhoods have you seen this poster.

The pic of this one is on Moss Avenue in the Grand Lake area.



Filed under Advocacy, Love, Oakland

GAH! .. Adventures in Hypertension

Week Blood Pressure
1 145/90
2 148/88
3 147/90

GRRR!! .. I get that it has only been 3 weeks. Maybe it takes longer? Who knows. That should be a question I ask next week. How long does it take to make a real change? REALLY?

Hypertension Lesson #3

This week we learned about nutrition. Same old same old right? How many times have we been beat over the head with healthy eating? Eat nutritious foods, don’t eat bad foods. Period.

Stephanie decided instead of giving us the Nutritional Science lecture, to give us some handy dandy tips for us to try.

I will share 5 of them with you.

  • You like bread? Whole wheat instead of white. Pasta, sliced bread, hot dog bun, however you like it, there might be a whole wheat version. Get it. White ain’t right.. Brown is better!
  • Need to cook with oils? Olive or Canola. Why Olive? Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Very helpful in reducing high blood pressure. You can’t really cook olive oil in high heat (it breaks down those essential nutrients) so if you need to fry..Canola is your guy!
  • Beans, beans the magical fruit! They are a natural source of protein with out the fat. Half a cup of Lentils have 9 grams of protein. I have never had a lentil. Anyone got a recipe?
  • Incorporate more greens! OF the lettuces, Romaine has the highest nutritional value. Then try spinach, swiss chard and collards. I like to make spinach and tomato sandwiches. Whole wheat with the crusts cut off. Sipping on tea with my pinky in the air.

Sauteed garlic collard greens with cabbage..Yummy for my tummy! (Recipe Below)

Try this recipe of sauteed collard and cabbage from the American Heart Association. MMM mmm good.


  • LOSE the salt. For real. Previously, I stated that the RDA is 2400 mg. That’s if you have normal blood pressure. It’s 1500 mg for abnormals like myself. Luckily I am not a big salt person, HOWEVER, I do like some lemon pepper, and wouldn’t you know it- but some lemon pepper brands have salt in it! BOOOOOO!!!! Check your labels folks. Especially if you like  buffalo wings (2460 mg), spaghetti sauce (1450 mg), canned chicken noodle soup (1106 mg), Potato salad (1323 mg)..you know normal stuff.

Download a sodium lecture and a  list of foods with high and low sodium counts.  SaltReduction (pdf 528 kb) High Sodium Foods (pdf 176 kb) Low Sodium Foods (pdf 62 kb)


MORE food  ‘lecture’ handouts here: FoodFacts ( pdf 573 kb) FoodFacts2 (pdf 618 kb) FoodGroups (pdf 557 lb) FoodGroups2 (pdf 451 kb)

By the way: Alameda County Public Health Department’s: Healthy Living For Life has a lot of great tips for you the try. Check it out!


I didn’t get a homework assignment. However, we did get notice that our exercise session would be longer, so I decided to make sure I exercise often so as not to embarrass myself. 🙂


So dear reader..got any other handy advice? Who has a lentil recipe? It had better be good, I’m a picky eater. 🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under Health, Hypertension

Parents fight to keep kids healthy.. AWESOME!

“It is unreasonable to expect that people will change their behavior when so many forces within the social, cultural, and physical environment conspire against such change”

— Institute of Medicine

This oft used quote is the rallying cry of many health advocates who are working to improve the environments of low-income minorities. It was used in a presentation by my colleague to motivate parents interested in advocating for their community to fight childhood obesity.

She shared it at a monthly convening of  First 5 Regional Parents Group in San Pablo, California. Funded via revenue from a tax on cigarettes (Proposition 10) First 5 California provides  healthcare, school readiness, child development, and support programs for families of young children.

First 5 in Contra Costa uses part of their funding to support Parent Regional Groups. To tell you more about the groups I will steal a passage that I had previously written on the ‘company‘ blog…

First 5′s Regional Parent Education Group is one such program that teaches participants valuable skills in community leadership and advocacy. As part of the program, First 5 staff train parent volunteers in project management, leadership, community engagement and public speaking.  Currently, 150 Contra Costa parents are involved in the program, many of them low-income residents and half of them speak Spanish as their primary language.


One of the group’s projects is to provide low-cost physical activity classes for young children aged 0-5.  They recognized that one of the barriers to young children getting exercise is that many families live in neighborhoods that lacked clean and safe places for kids to play and learn about different forms of activity, like sports.

After doing independent research and surveys, parent group participants found that there was a need for affordable programs for young children to engage in physical activity. They went to the city of Richmond and San Pablo and advocated for classes for their community. They were successful!

This year all of the Fall 2011 classes — Soccer, Karate, World Dance and Gymnastics —  are currently full!  Students also receive a goodie bag filled with nutrition and physical activity tips that parents can use at home. 🙂

When asked what advocacy means to them parents shared “the ability to speak for others” “to have power” “to fight for my children”, “to have a voice”.

A major problem within low-income minority groups is the history of disenfranchisement and lack of empowerment. Many feel that they do not have the right to protest when fast food restaurants invade their communities or fight for clean parks and safe streets.

The First 5 Parent Group in San Pablo says otherwise. When I attended their meeting on Wednesday night,  I was inspired by the earnestness, dedication and energy of the parents working to make a difference. I wanted to bottle it up and take it with me!

Wooo Hooo!!

So tell me dear reader..what example do you have of extraordinary people fighting to change their community for the better? Are you doing something to make your neighborhood safe and healthy? Sharing is caring!

Leave a comment

Filed under Advocacy, Health, Obesity

Up and Down .. Adventures in Hypertension

Week Blood Pressure
1 145/90
2 148/88

A change but not what I was hoping for.

This past week I changed my diet by making absolute sure I get 5 servings of fruits and vegetables (2 of fruit and 3 of veggies). Easier said than done. I tended to waiver between having more fruits one day and more veggies on another.   I changed the foods I ate but still drank the same amount of water. My body absorbed the water differently.. or not at all. Let’s just say I went through a lot of toilet paper.



At this weeks meeting we had a doctor come in and give us the low down on what hypertension is.

For those of you who don’t know, Hypertension is the medical term for having high blood pressure. Your blood pressure is the measure of the force of blood against the walls of your arteries. It tends to rise and fall throughout the day but when there is constant elevation over a long period of time  it’s called high blood pressure.

High blood pressure is bad. It causes the heart to work too hard and can lead to hardening of the arteries (a term call arteriosclerosis). This in turn can cause heart disease, stroke and other stuff.

What exactly is that fraction?

Systolic/ Diastolic

Systolic = the pressure exerted on the heart when it beats

Diastolic = the pressure on the heart in between the beat, or when relaxed.

What is a normal blood pressure reading?

Below 120/80.  Yes, I said it..below.

What are some of the causes of hypertension? 

Not in order of importance..

  • Genetics
  • Obesity/Overweight
  • Sedentary behavior (not moving)
  • Too much salt intake (how much salt is too much? Over 2400 mg per day.)
  • Too much alcohol
  • Tobacco

Can you feel when your blood pressure goes up?

I am sure you heard someone say..”Man I’m stressed..my blood pressure is up” or “You making my blood pressure go up!” Well they are lying!! Okay it might be true, but they don’t know it. You can’t feel when your blood pressure goes up. This is why they call hypertension the silent killer. Many people feel that since they  ‘feel okay’ that they can put off doing something about their high blood pressure. What they don’t know is prolonged stress on the heart exerts cumulative damage that can cause serious complications.

There are some symptoms of elevated blood pressure, but those manifest when something bad is going to happen right away. Dizziness, blurred vision, chest pain or severe headaches. Signs of a stroke or heart problem. You don’t want to wait until then. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure take steps to control it and stay on top of it. Don’t wait until it’s too late!!

What are ways to treat Hypertension?

If you have been diagnosed with hypertension and your doctor gives you instructions or prescribes medication..LISTEN TO YOUR DOCTOR. Take the medication. Follow the diet recommendation. Do whatever they tell you to do. You are paying the person..listen!!

Other methods that don’t involve medication:

  • Lose weight: If you lose 10-20 lbs you can lower your  number by 5-20 points.
  • Dietary changes: If you reduce your salt intake to 2.4 grams you can lower your systolic pressure by 2 pts
  • Physical Activity: You can potentially drop your number by 4-9 points by increasing your movement..


After the lesson we did our physical activity..which almost caused me to dislocate my shoulder..but bygones.

Homework for this week: READ “Spiritual Guide to Good Health” by Stephanie Davenport.  Ms. Davenport is our Health Ministry Program Coordinator. If you are interested in a copy, let me know and I will comment on how to get one for you. I am sure she has extra. 😉


Your turn!! COMMENTS? QUESTIONS? New information that I didn’t add? Chime in and let me know. I am always down to learn something new!!


Filed under Health, Hypertension, Uncategorized

145/90 ..Ouch!! Adventures in Hypertension.

“Be the change you want to see”

This is going to be the motto for my life.

If I want to see my community become healthier and live healthier lifestyles, I need to practice what I preach. My personal change comes slowly. As I learn something new, I try to incorporate it into my life. I’m a work in progress.

I am able to learn new things through my volunteer position as Health Ministry Coordinator for my church. (Memorial Tabernacle Church, Oakland California)

Every year I conduct a Hypertension Screening program at Memorial where the local hospital staff comes and do blood pressure screenings for members of my church. In general, hypertension is pretty darn high in the African American Community. My church members are not the exception.

Personally, my numbers have always been borderline. I always start off ridiculously high. The physicians aren’t really surprised by this given how I run the program, my stress levels are pretty high.  The physicians/nurses are careful to let us know that blood pressure levels can fluctuate day by day..even hour by hour. After they talk to me (sometimes flirt with me- young Drs are pretty funny) and I relax, my numbers usually fall within 120/80 range.

So I say to myself..I have nothing to worry about. Right? WRONG (apparently)

The Alta Bates Health Ministry Program coordinator is pretty worried that the community numbers are pretty high. So she implemented a 12-week hypertension pilot program and recruited ministry leaders like myself to join. I thought cool..why not! I can learn something and bring it back to the church.

What’s the first thing I learned during our first day in the program? My numbers are 145/90!! In February my numbers were 121/88. What a difference six months makes!

That was the first reading. I didn’t have the nurse do another reading. I could have.  I walked the mile and half to get the hospital, I got lost, and was a little late. Anxiety..stress, all of that could have been a factor in my score fluctuating. I could have had the nurse calm me down and found my numbers back in the normal range. However I don’t think my pressure should get that high just because I am stressed. Right?

The number scared me. I need to be scared..and to stay scared. Fear is a great motivator.

So for the next 12 weeks, I will be a part of a hypertension management program. Once a week I will go to the hospital and get my numbers. Then, I will get training on healthy eating, exercise, stress management, the works!

As someone who works in public health (childhood obesity specifically) I know all of this stuff. However, knowing and putting it into practice all the time are two different things. Being in this program will get me back on track..and I will have fear friends (and strangers) to help keep me there.

So 12 week program, here I come!! I will share my progress with you, dear reader, and hopefully you will learn something as well.

My homework this week (this could be your homework as well)

1. Eat 5 a day: 2 fruits, 3 vegetables.  I can eat anything else I want, just make sure to have those 5 a day. Baby steps!
2. Fill out this daily food chart/ activity chart. Download yours here:  DailyFoodLog1 (pdf)    DailyFoodLog2 (pdf)
3. Figure out my spiritual routine (once I read this booklet that was provided I will share more about it).


Who’s with me?

Do you know your numbers..Care to share? (If you don’t know your numbers go to your doctor/clinic/Walgreens or homie/lover/nurse/friend and find out). Got any great tips you would like to share? Questions you would like me to answer?   Let me know!


Filed under Advocacy, Health, Hypertension

Oakland Progressives gather in support of Rep. Barbara Lee (CA)

In light of the national ‘crisis’ of raising the debt ceiling, Moveon.org asked it’s members to flock to local congressional reps office and urge them to stand firm on their decisions to not allow cuts to entitlement programs. (Moveon reported via email today that over 800 rallies occurred nationwide!)

I got the email from a friend on Monday and decided to attend the gathering at rep Barbara Lee‘s office at noon on Tuesday. I’m not a progressive but I do support Barbara Lee. She was one of the few to stand up against going to war in Iraq, she supports increased funding for global and HIV/AIDS prevention, care and education and is a staunch advocate of the low-income community.

I felt it would be pretty easy to spend a couple of hours in support of her.

When I arrived at her office in downtown Oakland, I found a small group of progressives chanting and giving speeches complaining about the cost of war and protesting cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.

They didn’t really touch on the debt ceiling. However here are a some talking points and chants that I gathered:

  • Confidence in Obama’s economic policy is eroding, because he is having to compromise too much. We need to stand together to raise our voices so that Obama has the power to stand firm.
  • They (republicans) are attacking Americans, our health, our way of life. Just throwing people in the streets.
  • It’s not just us (progressives) that support social security and Medicare, 17% of teabaggers do as well. We need to unite in one voice to stand against the rich and corporate greed.
  • We need to support Unions and their right to organize
  • A liberal made this statement: The President needs criticism and he needs to be pushed  so that he doesn’t have to make compromises.


  • “Social Security: NO CUTS! Medicare: NO CUTS!”
  • “Starve the wars, feed the people!”
  • “We want jobs!”
  • “Stop the wars, fund education!”

They ended with a couple of local announcements on how to continue on with the fight:

Rep from Babara Lee's office addressing the group

The a rep from Lee’s office came out, Ann Taylor (sp?) and thanked us for our support and to announce an event. Progressive Congress.org is sponsoring a forum: “Speakout For Good Jobs Now!” August 16th 5:30-7pm at Allen Temple Baptist Church. Reps Barbara Lee and Raul Grijalva (Az) will be present.

Another event sponsored by New Priorities Campaign.org and Moveon.org East Bay is a training on how to speak out on progressive issues will be held at Berkeley Public Library, July 30th, 10 am on the 3rd Floor.

Overall, not a lot of people showed up, but it was a small passionate group nonetheless. Glad I could participate!

So what are you thoughts about the debt ceiling? A Pew Poll yesterday says that most Americans want Congress to compromise even if neither side gets what they want.

What do you think?

Leave a comment

Filed under Oakland, Politics

It takes a village..but the village needs encouragement.

Neighbors help to weed the Marcom Rose Garden, Oakland, on Earth Day in April.

I don’t agree with everything our new mayor is doing in regards to Oakland’s budget, however I applaud her efforts at community engagement. Jean Quan writes an informal case study of her experience at an East Oakland neighborhood  in the following Huffington Post San Francisco article.  During her campaign she visited a predominantly African American community and made significant changes by simply showing that she cares about what happens there.

If you are at least 30, I am sure you remember having your neighbors,  family friends, or other adults outside of your parents playing an important part of your upbringing. Your ‘hood may have been a relatively safe place for you to exist, because your neighbors came together and made it so. If that wasn’t the case, you probably heard about that rare phenomenom from older people.

I say rare, because it doesn’t seem to be like that anymore. In “rough” neighborhoods, it seems like residents don’t care or are afraid to care about what happens there. This could be because of fear of violence and retribution or lack of education and efficacy to make change in their community. But because the residents themselves don’t seem to care, it makes it easier for neglect and more violence to occur.

This is why I LOVE what the Mayor is doing. By doing something as small as getting 15 people to help clean up a neighborhood that she doesn’t live in, it shows that SHE cares enough about them help keep their streets clean. By giving them self-reporting tools and having the city and police be responsive (that’s key!), she helps them not to be afraid to care as well.

In the two months before our outreach, no one in the neighborhood called the anonymous drug hotline to report drug hotspots. In the past six months, the City’s drug hotline has received 103 calls and police have made several arrests. More residents are also reporting illegal dumping, graffiti, pot holes, broken street lights and other infrastructure issues at almost twice the rate of the previous year. In six months, there have been 507 calls for service, as opposed to 690 for all of 2010.

..In this time of budget cuts at all levels which are tearing the safety net apart, we must engage citizens in every community to join us in providing basic services and help for all neighborhoods

via Jean Quan: Strong Neighborhoods Are Safe Neighborhoods.

Neighborhoods that are upper class, clean and safe, are that way because the residents care to keep it so. They watch their streets, they make sure that it’s clean, they watch over each others houses and children, and they have a good relationship with the police. My somewhat middle class neighborhood is that way..and as expensive as my apartment may be, I will gladly pay to stay.

Residents come together to create a community garden at Memorial Tabernacle Church, North Oakland.

All neighborhoods in Oakland can be the same way.. they just need a little encouragement! A small intervention can make a world of difference.

Critics might have a problem with bigwigs like the Mayor swooping down on the ‘hood and making a show of “doing their good deed” to get or stay elected.  Was she really responsible for helping to change that neighborhood or is she just taking credit? Does she really care about what happens after she leaves?

Who knows. But at the end of the day, does it really matter as long as the real change that she made was motivating the people to care enough to take ownership  for themselves?

What do you think? What have you done to make sure your neighborhood is safe? Do you even know your neighbor? Why do you think it’s so hard to get us to advocate for ourselves?


Filed under Advocacy, Love, Oakland, Politics