Oakland Belonging at Chapter 510
by Cayman Bentley, PVF Communications Assistant
PVF COO Dawn Hawk and I recently visited Chapter 510, a made-in-Oakland youth writing, bookmaking & publishing center that will be expanding their Oakland Belonging oral history, podcasting, and journalism project.
PVF was proud to partner as a fiscal sponsor for Chapter 510 when they launched in 2014. They quickly grew to become an Oakland nonprofit with a big vision: “We want every young person in Oakland to write with confidence and joy.”
During our visit to Chapter 510 in the heart of Downtown Oakland, we spoke with its founder, Janet Heller, to learn more about the Oakland Belonging project in which ten low-income BIPOC and queer teens can “bravely write” by coming together over the course of a year to design, write, produce, publish, and perform site-specific stories and oral histories about their community.
Launched in the fall of 2021, the first cohort focused on the history of Swan’s Market (where Chapter 510 is located), and quickly garnered considerable attention from the local community. Students in the course have grown enormously together as they have learned interviewing, podcasting, storytelling, and performance skills along the way. They have been mentored by Oakland artists and leaders and deepened their connection to their local community by interviewing historians, residents, and business owners.
I hope to return to Chapter 510 soon to witness more of important work that is done to help Oakland youth expand their creative horizons.
Swan’s Market in Downtown Oakland