Hacking the Hood

Hack the Hood and Panelists

Hack the Hood participants and panelists

Oakland gets its fair share of negative press, especially when it comes to the political demonstrations we have hosted surrounding Occupy Oakland, the shooting of Oscar Grant and the more recent murder of Trayvon Martin. But anarchists smashing widows is, contrary to the media coverage, only a tiny part of what happens here. What these news stories miss and what is often overshadowed is the immense sense of community Oaklanders feel and how many great organizations have boots on the ground here, working to help Oakland reach it’s full potential.

Panelists speaking to Hack the Hood participants

Panelists speaking to Hack the Hood participants

Hack the Hood is one such program. They pair local youth webmasters-in-training with local small business “clients,” and train the youths to create websites for the businesses. These neighborhood businesses are un- or under-represented online and the youths help each business get on the map (like, specifically, Google Maps), and create for them a high quality web presence. The training is run out of an amazing nonprofit called United Roots and the trainers use a very concrete and skills focused approach that helps young people gain real world skills – both digital and interpersonal.

Particpant asking the panel a question

Particpant asking the panel members a question

Last week we had the pleasure of visiting United Roots to talk about MIGHTYminnow and our work, in a panel about “real world practitioners.” The students had a lot of smart and thought-provoking questions. This was our favorite: “How does your work facilitate change?” (which is a topic for another blog post, another day).

We hope to have additional opportunities to work with these talented young people to share our skills and knowledge in the future, and so far, we are very impressed!

*All photos by Sophia Hussain, Hack the Hood’s documentarian