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Welcome to our third dispatch sharing updates from the new local journalism platform that we're building to serve Oakland. You're getting this email because you signed up for our newsletter, attended one of our events, or talked with someone from our newsroom. Want to unsubscribe?
Thank you to everyone who joined us at StudioToBe and The Lede last Monday night for our first public conversation about what community-centered journalism can look like in Oakland. (Read on for details about our next event, happening later this month in Fruitvale—and stay tuned for another dispatch with links to job postings very soon.)

About 70 of you were able to hang out with us last Monday night, a mix of mediamakers, community leaders, educators, advocates, and more. Over the course of the night, we asked how newsrooms like ours can help residents share their own expertise, how local media and public meetings could be more accessible, and more.
Photography by CB Smith-Dahl

Some participants pointed to existing streams of information like #oakmtg, while someone else urged us to "keep conversations and dialogue flowing off social media too!" Another urged us to "demystify the process" of government meetings by hosting trainings on how to participate.

At one point in the evening, we asked everyone to “interview” someone in the room they didn’t already know, and find out what they have expertise on in Oakland. We heard about Oakland's Yemeni community and its role in California history; the work of Stagebridge, a theater company that works with older Oakland residents to express themselves artistically; opportunities and challenges facing Oakland's Chinatown; and allegations of abuse and corruption in the probate court system.

As for making sure our staff and coverage reflects Oakland's diversity, one person suggested we find ways to amplify "quiet" voices, and not just the "loudest and most media-savvy." Another emphasized that "community" is not a monolith in Oakland. "Oakland is filled with hundreds of thriving communities–neighborhoods, cultures, hobbies, interests, movements," they wrote. "They all deserve scrutiny and care."

Another popular suggestion: more events like this one. Someone noted that such conversations can help break down "barriers and stigma associated with the media" and that "media needs to be accessible." We agree 💯.

Other participants shared words of caution. One attendee recommended we "plan for making mistakes" and "work on conflict negotiation and trust-building practices" before we make mistakes. Another attendee asked us to note who isn't in the room at events we host. "Recognize that power and representation imbalances might likely favor further inequity due to who has the most time, ability, encouragement and/or confidence to 'share their insights,'" they wrote.

We're deeply grateful for everything we heard and learned, and we've made the ideas you shared (anonymously) available for others to check out in this document. It's open for anyone to view, and if you have anything to add, feel free to respond to this email.

Photography by CB Smith-Dahl

Join the next conversation in Fruitvale on Sunday, Feb. 23

We'll continue the conversation at our next event, at the Fruitvale-San Antonio Senior Center on Sunday, Feb. 23. You can RSVP here. We're aiming to have childcare available, so please let us know of any childcare needs when you RSVP.

Questions? Ideas? Can't make it to an event but have something to say? You can reach out anytime through this newsletter—just hit "Reply."

And if you've made it this far, chances are you're interested in updates about hiring. Stay tuned: another newsletter edition will be hitting your inbox very, very soon.

With gratitude,
Tasneem Raja, Editor-in-Chief
CB Smith-Dahl and Cole Goins, Contributing Editors for Community Engagement

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