Help Save Romo's Caffe

Romo’s Caffe from Natalie Rodriguez on Vimeo.

Laura Hernandez from Lagos de Moreno, Jalisco, Mexico, crossed the border by walking at the age of 12. She is a hard working woman who with the help of her girlfriend Allison Downs, and her two sons, Adan and Mario Jimenez has established a coffee stand, Romo’s Caffe, at the Laney College Flea Market in Oakland, Calif. On Sunday, March 30, 2014, their trailer with all of their supplies and materials was stolen outside of their apartment building. This is Laura’s story.

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From Undocumented to DACAmented

From Undocumented to DACAmented from Natalie Rodriguez on Vimeo.

Mario Espinoza, twenty five, arrived in the United States with his mother and older siblings from Guatemala City after crossing the US/Mexico border with what he was told was a little girl’s visa at the approximate age of three. Being undocumented made him realize that he would not have the same educational or employment opportunities as his peers while he was in high school. As a beneficiary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Espinoza explains how DACA has not completely changed his life.

Artist Max Kauffman on Oakland and Beauty

Artist Max Kauffman on Oakland and Beauty from Natalie Rodriguez on Vimeo.

Artist, Max Kauffman, premiered his solo show, “Your Vulnerability Makes You Beautiful,” at Loakal Gallery & Boutique on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013. The opening was a part of Oakland’s First Fridays Festival of Art and Culture. Nastia Voynovskaya curated the show. Born in Chicago, Kauffman believes that the Bay Area is a “hub of artic culture,” and that there is beauty in Oakland’s “toughness.”

How Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Can Affect Children in Oakland

Drive By Shooting Victim Talks About His Experience from Natalie Rodriguez on Vimeo.

Children in Oakland, Calif., may suffer symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, as a result of the violence that they are exposed to. Paul Rodriguez who is currently a senior at the California State University, East Bay, was the victim of a drive by shooting in 2007 while he waited for the bus outside of Castlemont High School where he was a senior at the time. Suzanne Dove, School Counselor at Saint Elizabeth Elementary School in Oakland, and licensed marriage and family therapist, says that despite the fact that not all victims of trauma develop PTSD, even infants can show signs of the disorder.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is a type of anxiety disorder that can occur after people have been exposed to a traumatic event including exposure to community violence. According to the National Center for PTSD, a national study amongst children under the age of 18, more than one in four reported having witnessed domestic or community violence.

In July 2013, Oakland city council man Noel Gallo, called for a state of emergency in the city after 8-year-old Alaysha Carradine, was shot to death while attending a sleep over. Since the publication of a 2008 article in the Oakland Tribune titled “Violence in Oakland creates symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder,” more than 20 minors have lost their lives victims of violence in Oakland. According to the San Jose Mercury News, since 2011, five children under the age of ten have been killed. Today, Sunday, August 25, 2013 there were two shootings that took place within minutes of each other in the city of Oakland, Calif., in which two children were amongst the victims.

Rodriguez who survived a drive by as a child says, “I don’t think they meant to kill the kids and they accidentally shot the kids, and I don’t think they feel bad about it either.” Rodriguez believes that those committing the crimes seek respect and property by any means necessary.

In this interview, Dove explains that the Federal Government recognizes that children in urban communities that are exposed to crime are at risk for developing PTSD.

Citlalli Odette Coria: Dancing “underdog” from Oakland

Citlalli Odette Coria is a 14-year-old dancer from Oakland, Calif. Her inspiration lies in her environment, her friends and family. She began dancing at the age of seven, competing at the age of 10, and taking private dance lessons at the age of 11. She has competed approximately 15 times and placed first several times. She finds beauty in her city, where other’s may not see it and considers herself to be the “underdog” when she shows up to competitions where others who are there to compete come from “nice places,” while she comes from a city with a “bad” reputation.

Oakland dancer, Citlalli Odette Coria, Talks About Accomplishments and Confidence from Natalie Rodriguez on Vimeo.

Her short hair flares out. Although her black, thick-rimmed glasses compliment her style, they may be one of the tactics a shy, 14-year-old girl uses to hide curious, glowing eyes. She applies her red lipstick with great care, looking at herself through the side mirror of a car in her family’s driveway. When she speaks, she does so with conviction and when she dances, the world is her own. Dancing she says has given her confidence. Confidence to speak and the confidence to dress as she pleases. She’s one of the middle children of Fidel and Dulce Coria and has three older siblings and a younger one.

She began dancing at the age of seven, which is her youngest sister’s age. In 2008 she began competing at the age of 10.  When she began taking private lessons at 11 she says that her competitions “began getting serious.” Coria has been taking lessons from the same instructor, Amy Lee Danya for years. “She has been teaching me from day one, she was my first dance teacher and I’m so thankful [that] she is still my teacher and friend,” says Coria.

She doesn’t remember how many competitions she has participated in, she estimates “about 15” in total.  “She was going to go to nationals,” says mom, “but she hurt herself.” Nationals were going to be held in Disneyland this summer and Coria did not attend due to an injured hip. “Being silly” is what mom says Coria was doing when she injured herself. With every trophy and award that Citlalli shows, mom knows exactly what competition it was from and when it took place, despite the fact that she is multitasking in the background.

She’s not quite sure where all of her trophies are. She knows they’re safely put away. “To be honest for competitions I don’t really give much feeling for my trophies I mean there a remembrance of what I accomplish but it doesn’t really define my feeling over dance.”

Competitions Citlalli has participated in:

Nexstar National Talent Competition 2011, First Place

Kids Artistic Revue (KAR) National Dance Competition, Placed First twice

Show Stopper Competition 2013, Double Platinum award

Oakland, Calif., is a city that receives a lot of negative attention. In a 24-hour period three people lost their lives, victims of violence on the weekend of August 17th. Coria describes her neighborhood as “beaten down” with “closed down factories,” garbage, and graffiti. However, despite the negatives, she manages to find inspiration in her city and is grateful for the colorful graffiti, which she says, adds a “nice texture” to her neighborhood.

Dancer, Citlalli Odette Coria, Finds Inspiration in Oakland from Natalie Rodriguez on Vimeo.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that the physical activity of children and teens has many health benefits including building healthy bones and muscles, improving self-esteem and reducing stress, Coria agrees. The Dana Foundation has found evidence that dancing has effects on the brain that can enhance learning in academic subjects as well.

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