How to Take an Audio Tour of Historic Swan’s Food Hall Market Guided by Oakland Youth

There are all kinds of buffs there — board game nerds, beer savants — and now there’s a project in downtown Oakland for local history geeks. Chapter 510, a literary arts nonprofit for young people in Jack London Square, has just produced audio tours of historic Swan’s Market by children aged 8-19. Dubbed “Oakland Belonging”, this is the association’s first self-guided walking tour. For example, in the 8-minute “Food for the People” podcast, college student Phoebe Lefebvre describes Oakland’s rich culture, its food insecurity issues, and how the Old Oakland Farmer’s Market just outside Swan’s is doing its part to provide food to those in need.

The final project includes 20 collections of simple directions, mixed with insights into the history of the region, poems and essays about space. Anyone heading to Swan Market for lunch, or explicitly to shop around, can head to the Chapter 510 website (or find one of the QR codes there) to listen to one of the young writers while walking. along a coordinated map designed by the nonprofit. from various providers – it will even keep track of where you last left off in your listening. Elena Botkin-Levy, a freelance radio producer, was the teaching artist for this program, meaning she worked with students on their pieces. The nonprofit organization offers all kinds of writing and arts programs for Oakland youth, including songwriting, slam poetry, and college essay writing. The organization 826 Valencia, founded by Dave Eggers and Nineveh Calegari in the Mission District of San Francisco, served as inspiration.

Jahan Khalighi, program and events director for Chapter 510, says Oakland Housing Director Emily Weinstein came up with the idea for the Oakland Belonging program. “She has a deep history in Oakland,” Khaligi says. “It was a chance for the students to collect stories about this landmark, learn skills like interviewing people, and all through the lens of belonging and not belonging.” Khaligi says the students wrote about various stories of companies in the market; Chapter 510 student Citlali Sanchez Udovic wrote and recorded an article about Taylor Sausage, the oldest seller in the very old market.

The podcasts are all available to listen to online, and Khaligi says the organization is excited to launch more podcasting programs in the future — this was the first audio project for Chapter 510. The organization has moved from its original location at 2301 Telegraph Avenue Field to The Swan’s Market space in April 2021, so it’s still a pretty new space for everyone. Field trips will return in the spring. “Very often, local residents with deep roots don’t have their voices heard when cities are shaped,” says Khalgi. “How can the stories of young people help design spaces and places, and how can these voices be more centralised? »

Young Writers at Chapter 510 in Oakland.
Jahan Khalighi

The walking tour can be taken anytime from 546 9th Street.

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