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posted 02.13.2013

updated by: Chris

What I Hear, I Keep: Stories from Oakland's Griots
On February 23rd, Peralta Hacienda House Museum of Community and History will come alive through a magnificent visual and audio art installation featuring the voices of a group of African American Oaklanders who recorded the stories of their lives through the Griot Initiative of StoryCorps, a national nonprofit oral history project. The word “griot” (pronounced gree-oh) comes from the West African tradition of storytellers who perpetuate the oral tradition and history of a village or family.

The griots in this case are the gifted storytellers of Oakland's African American community. Their voices emanate from a gigantic horse glowing from within, designed and built by African American sculptor and landscape architect, Walter Hood, inside the 1870 Victorian house at the site. Holly Alonso designed the audio for all 30 stories which will cycle over a three-hour period. Visitors will attach their own messages in response to the audible personal memories of identity, connection with others and distances traveled. This exhibit is being done in collaboration with the Oakland Public Libraries, whose staff has created a reading list to explore the themes in the stories.

Hood chose the symbol of the horse in collaboration with the three dozen people who came forward to tell their stories. The animal epitomizes beauty and strength, and suggests the journeys traveled on many levels by African Americans. It also links the stories to the Peralta House location; two thousand horses once lived on the Peralta cattle ranch (granted by the Spanish governor in1820) which covered all of Oakland, Berkeley, and five other East Bay cities.

The interviews tell about the pluses and minuses of segregation, rituals to commemorate the Black Holocaust, combating racism in major league baseball, the De Fermery Recreation Center community, the heyday of KJAZ, the Black Native community, the Black Panthers, and many other iconic Oakland events and figures. Malcolm Westbrooks, one of the featured griots remembers what it was like to grow up here as a child born after World War II, “The best part [of my neighborhood] was that sense of community …at 8 or 9 years old I could leave Saturday morning and go play on the railroad tracks or in the creeks and we were safe.”

The creators and staff invite the public to listen and add their own stories to this interactive installation of narratives from African American residents as they shine a light on the East Bay’s past while exploring themes that are relevant to all who live in Oakland.

The opening of the exhibit and gala reception for “What I Hear, I Keep” is on Saturday, February 23 from 2:30-5:30pm at Peralta Hacienda Historical Park, 2465 34th Avenue, Oakland, California.


This program is made possible through the generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Zellerbach Foundation.


Contacts to write a Feature Article:
Walter Hood, Principal
Hood Design Studio
walter@wjhooddesign.com
510.595.0688


Holly Alonso
Executive Director
Friends of Peralta Hacienda Historical Park
hollyalonso@earthlink.net
510.532.9142

www.peraltahacienda.org/downloads/PressRelease-GriotExhibit.pdf

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posted 01.31.2010

updated by: monicadear

Revised Website to be Released
Peralta Hacienda is pleased to announce the release of an updated website at http://www.peraltahacienda.org.

Including additional exhibit material, calendar pages, and more about the Friends and Peralta Hacienda Historical Park, the website serves as a resource point.

Please visit the new website at: http://www.peraltahacienda.org www.peraltahacienda.org

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posted 11.10.2007

updated by: monicadear

Premiere of Community Recipe Book
For Immediate Release
Now through November 10, 2007

Media Contact:
Jocelyn Scheibe
(510) 532-9142


What: Premiere of Community Recipe Book, a museum exhibit at Peralta Hacienda Historical Park

When: Saturday, November 10, 2007

Time: 2 pm to 4 pm

Where: Peralta Hacienda Historical Park, 2465 34th Avenue, Oakland, California 94601

Admission: Free to the public


Outside the restored Peralta house in Peralta Hacienda Historical Park in East Oakland, Mien women from the mountains of Laos tend a small vegetable garden. Close by, many African American kids hang out with their friends. The two groups use the park more frequently than anybody else in the neighborhood. They seldom exchanged greetings, and did not know each other’s names, until a program focusing on sharing food, recipes and their life stories brought them together.

The Community Recipe Book, a museum exhibit at Peralta Hacienda Historical Park, uses photos, recipes and life stories to document the process in which the elders and youth began to communicate with each other, as they participated in the park’s Landscape of Stories programs. The exhibit will premiere Saturday, November 10, from 2-4 pm in the Peralta House, 2465 34th Ave, near the corner of Coolidge and Hyde in the vibrant Fruitvale District. The event will be a Community Banquet, with Mien and African American food for all. Highlighting first person stories by the Mien elders and neighborhood youth, the Community Recipe Book was conceived and written by Holly Alonso, with photographs by artist Ene Osteraas-Constable. Chapters with other neighborhood cultures will be added in the future.

The California Council for the Humanities gave seed money to Friends of Peralta Hacienda Historical Park to interview the Mien elders and neighborhood youth, and for Community Banquets. In this first stage of the project three years ago, Alonso and Osteraas-Constable created outdoor signs in the garden showing the Mien and the kids among the amaranth, mustard, bean and corn plants that flourish there.

The Mien brought seeds when they were flown here in the early 1980s from Thai refugee camps. They had fled to Thailand years before, pursued by the Pathet Lao (Laotian Communists). They had cultivated these crops for centuries and considered them integral to their culture. As Nai Sieuw Saelee articulated, “We plant these seeds so the species from home won’t die. Without these plants, our way of life will disappear.” Their strongest hope is that the Mien culture will survive.

The project expanded thanks to the Walter and Elise Haas Fund’s grant for a weekly program, matched by funds from the Alliance for California Traditional Arts. Tracey Cockrell, dedicated and inspired artist educator, drew the kids and their family recipes into the mix, teaching them about germination, watering and the tender loving care necessary in cultivating both plants and community, with the Mien elders mentoring the efforts of the youth. This year, filmmaker Shannon Petrello has elicited stories from local middle school youth of many cultures and the Mien in Story Circles in the Peralta House. These Story Circle have elicited identical folktales and parallel personal stories from opposite sides of the globe.

African American youth in the program found common ground with the Mien within the agricultural traditions of their own families. Kadeisha Young brought her mother’s favorite recipe for collard greens and cooked them with the Mien, slow-simmered in the garden at one of the program’s outdoor events. Some kids made their favorite foods, such as Richard Armstrong’s franks and links, and shared them with the Mien. Marcus Jones, whose family came here from Somalia, invented a pan-fried peach cobbler for
his family’s camping trips, which Finh Luang Saelee helped him keep from burning. All became conscious that their families and ways of life are linked to the traditional cooking and farming methods of their cultures.

As an outgrowth of the program, community leaders are being nurtured: 18-year-old Nai Saelee, daughter of one of the gardeners, is now working with UC Davis, through Peralta Hacienda, to study how traditional arts can improve mental and physical health of immigrants who have undergone extremely traumatic experience as wars have thrust them across the globe. These women lead their families through the jungle, many with their own infants dying in their arms after watching their villages burn and close family members being shot, suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

The ancient farming techniques of the Mien have much in common with cutting edge organic farming. Another story embedded in this one, is that many of the offspring of the Mien elders at Peralta Hacienda have become organic farmers in California’s burgeoning market for fresh organic produce. Their tie with the land is mystical; a core Mien belief is that they were chosen at the beginning of the human race by the divine king to be farmers. The community garden has deep meaning for all of them.

Alonso, and volunteers Soo Han and Tom Hutcheson tape recorded and videotaped interviews. Cockrell and Petrello held frequent story circles in the garden and in the 1870 historic house at the site, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Kids learned about the various types of vegetables the Mien grow as they learned their life stories in lively gardening sessions, and planted their own crops. Every two months, community banquets to which the whole neighborhood is invited, take place, where the kids and the Mien elders harvest, cook and share their foods.

Alonso says, “Peralta Hacienda is about encounters across barriers of ‘them and us.’ Fruitvale, in its diversity, potentially, could be a model for the world. On a more immediate level, I am so happy to see people separated by age, language, culture, dress, and background begin to discover what they have in common, and to say hello to each other.”

peraltahacienda.org/downloads/Press%20Release%20Community%20Recipe%20Book%20111007.pdf

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posted 03.31.2007

updated by: monicadear

Native Spanish Contact
PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release:
Now through March 31, 2007

Media Contact:
Jocelyn Scheibe
(510) 532-9142


What: Native/Spanish Contact Commemorative Event: Native Plant Garden Tour and
discussion of Native American/Spanish contact

When: Saturday, March 31, 2007

Time: 11 am to 1 pm

Where: Peralta Hacienda Historical Park, 2465 34th Avenue, Oakland, California 94601

Admission: Free to the public


A series of public events will be held throughout the East Bay to commemorate Juan Bautista de
Anza’s expedition through Northern California in 1776 and the resulting Spanish-Native American
contact. At the Peralta Hacienda Historical Park, Native American and Peralta family descendents
will lead a site walk through the site’s Ring of Native Plants, opening a dialogue about the history
of their encounter on Ohlone land, which later became the Peralta rancho, covering 45,000 acres
of land where seven modern cities now stand in Alameda County. Participants will explore
themes around the healing power of historical awareness and the natural world upon which all
our cultures rely. Artists and historians who helped create the Native Plant Garden will take part
in the dialogue, voicing their perspectives. Artists will present the art works in the garden that are
dedicated to the native peoples of the East Bay and which unfold native use of plants species.
The event concludes with a culinary sampling of traditional Ohlone acorn soup and special hot
chocolate and tamales of the Mexican era in California.

This event is sponsored by Friends of Peralta Hacienda Historical Park and the Vinapa
Foundation for Cross-Cultural Studies. Please call 510-532-9142 for more information.

For a listing of other Native/Spanish Contact Commemorative Events in March, please visit
http://vinapafoundation.org

peraltahacienda.org/downloads/Press%20Release%20Native%20Spanish%20Contact%20033107.pdf

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posted 10.15.2006

updated by: monicadear

Grand Opening
A Park Grows in Fruitvale: Peralta Hacienda
Festival Celebration Honors Indigenous Peoples

OAKLAND, Calif. – The rich heritage of Native Peoples and early Spanish and Mexican settlers—and the
amazing stories of diverse neighbors today—will take center stage at the Festival Celebration of Peralta
Hacienda Historical Park’s new $3 million enhancements.

Slated to run from noon to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 15, 2006, the free celebration will include Native
American ceremonies and dance, live entertainment, outdoor exhibits, children’s crafts, tours of the 1870
Peralta House and grounds, hands-on adobe wall decorating, and more.

Located at 2465 34th Avenue (at the corner of Coolidge and Hyde), Peralta Hacienda Historical Park
preserves the lost legacy of the 44,800-acre Peralta rancho that once covered nearly all of present-day
Alameda County, including the Native Americans who lived and worked on the vast estate. For more
information, visit www.peraltahacienda.org or call (510) 532-9142.

Entertainment begins at noon with performances throughout the day: the Amah-Ka-Tura Ohlone dancers
of Santa Cruz, youth performers from Calvin Simmons Middle School and the alternative rock band
Afterbuffalo. A Native American blessing, an archaeological dig and craft activities for kids, guided tours,
and a community tile project to decorate the site’s new massive adobe wall will round out the celebration.

'As a descendant of one of California's pioneering families, I am pleased that the expanded exhibits at the
Peralta Hacienda Historical Park will expose more people to our pre-statehood history,' said Oakland
Mayor Jerry Brown. New elements for the park include a play area with climbing structures shaped like
the grizzly bears and redwood trees, a 100-foot long, 3-foot thick adobe wall that commemorates the
massive adobe wall that once surrounded the Peralta family hacienda, a beautiful fruit tree promenade
lined with community stories, a native plant garden with sculptures that reflect the special relationship of
the native peoples of the East Bay to the natural world, and outdoor alcoves where you can see and
touch the hidden history of the site.

The Ohlone people lived in the Bay Area for at least 2,500 years before the Spanish arrived. Their story,
and that of other East Bay native cultures, is so central to the Peralta story that it is an equal component
of exhibits at the park as well as activities during the celebration.


(more)
Peralta House and grounds, hands-on adobe wall decorating, and more.

California History Comes To Life at Historical Park’s Opening Festival Celebration
Page Two


This nationally significant historical site located in Oakland’s historic Fruitvale District was the
headquarters of the Peraltas’ Rancho San Antonio, one of the largest Spanish land grants ever made.
The settlers from New Spain and Mexico and the local peoples who formed part of the rancho community
developed a rich culture centered in the cattle ranches of old California.

'The adobe wall and other new amenities being added to the Peralta Hacienda Historical Park will bring
California history to life for future generations,' said State Librarian Emeritus and California historian
Kevin Starr. 'California grew from the large Spanish and Mexican land grants such as the Peralta's
Rancho San Antonio. These settlements signaled a shift in California history when the influence of
Europeans began to compete with that of the indigenous peoples.'

The grand opening celebration marks the completion of Phase I of an overall $10 million master plan for
the six-acre site, built by Oakland Public Works Agency in collaboration with Friends of Peralta Hacienda
Historical Park, who are creating the indoor and outdoor exhibits. The master plan was spearheaded by
Friends of Peralta Hacienda Historical Park in response to a new vision of history and designed by Mario
Schjetnan, Mexico’s foremost landscape architect, in collaboration with Oakland’s Pattillo and Garrett
Landscape Design.

Listed on the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail and the National Register of Historic Places,
Peralta Hacienda Historical Park will offer programs, exhibits and educational activities that use the five
senses to bring to life the history of Peralta Hacienda for the general public, while exploring and
maintaining its connection to today’s diverse and ever-changing people and their cultures. The Faces of
Fruitvale exhibit, with 55 community stories told in the first person by today’s neighbors will be mounted
outdoors at this celebration.

This $3 million master plan and exhibit construction is made possible by grants from Oakland Measure I
and K Bonds, Oakland City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente’s office, National Endowment for the
Humanities, California Council for the Humanities, National Park Service, Creative Work Fund, State Prop
12’s Roberti Zeeburg Fund, Friends of Peralta Hacienda Historical Park and the Fruitvale District Council
as well as by in-kind services from the Equal Access Office, Friends of Peralta Hacienda and media
sponsorship from Oakland Magazine. Faces of Fruitvale was funded by the California Council for the
Humanities. Friends of Peralta Hacienda Historical Park carries out all programs and exhibit design and
construction at the site, in collaboration with community members, designers and artists.

peraltahacienda.org/downloads/Press%20Release%20Grand%20Opening%20101506.pdf

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