By Victoria Endsley, CFJC Intern
On Saturday, CFJC team members attended Oakland’s community service festival called Throw Down for the Town, sponsored by the Ella Baker Center. At the urban gardening event at The California Hotel, we helped weed, paint the chicken coop, pick up trash, and plant starter seedlings to be sold and given away to the community.
The California Hotel, a historic lodging place for black celebrities during the Jim Crow era, has undergone significant changes in the last few decades and is now home to senior citizens, disabled and low income people. Although these residents were threatened with eviction in 2008 for health concerns regarding the building environment, the hotel will soon be undergoing a retrofit project to make the inside a safe and clean space for residents. The project will, however, preserve the exterior appearance because of its landmark status.
People’s Grocery has been working at the site since 2009, helping to provide health education and food to the residents and local communities. West Oakland in particular lacks access to grocery stores, and residents of the hotel suffer from health-related problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Through programs like this one sponsored by People’s Grocery, grassroots community organizations are trying to provide access to healthy foods and food education for everyone in our communities.
Residents of the hotel support the gardening efforts as well and a handful of the residents were out helping us on Saturday.
For more information about the ongoing gardening work at The California Hotel, please visit the People’s Grocery website.