Day 10 – Communal lunch brings people together

Photo by Shannon Yang

The band Dirty Cello plays at Downtown San Jose’s first “Big Lunch.” // Photo by Shannon Yang

By Shannon Yang, Mosaic Staff Writer

A long line of white tables and chairs were lined up in the middle of Paseo San Antonio between Second and Fourth, just a stone’s throw away from San José State University.

Dubbed “the Big Lunch,” June 24’s festivities included booths from organizations and local radio stations as well as dance and musical performances. Most of all, the event was a way for people to socialize after grabbing food at nearby restaurants.

Though downtown already hosts events such as the Jazz Summer Fest, Christmas in the Park and Music in the Park, the Big Lunch marked the first ever communal lunch in downtown San José.

Brad Kanich, who works in promotions at radio station 94.5 K-Bay, believes that such a gathering should happen every month.

“This lunch brightens social lives and brings people together to network and socialize,” he said. “It’s meant to get people out of the office to enjoy restaurants.”

“It gets people to come downtown, just sit at the tables and enjoy free food and free music,” his colleague, Jen Graham, adds. “Usually people get food and go back to their desk job and eat, but this is encouraging people not to do that.”

“I loved it. I was actually just walking by,” Elizabeth Reyes, who works on First Street, said. “There are a lot of people here, I got to know them for the first time.”

For Ed Bautista, who works at City Hall, the lunch is also a way to allow downtown to thrive.

“It’s always fun when they have new exciting ways to network in the downtown area, supporting local businesses. There is friends and food. It’s a great way to support economic development.”

Bautista’s colleague, Melina Iglesias, experienced firsthand some of that economic boom.

“I actually downloaded the DoorDash app, which I had never done before,” she said. “I also tried out a restaurant I had really wanted to try, La Lune Sucrée.”

Downtown is the perfect place for a social gathering, many attendees agreed.

“Downtown is great for the accessibility and the diversity of food and restaurants,” Kranich said.

“It’s uniquely different,” Bautista said. “It doesn’t have the hustle bustle of San Francisco, but it’s still a vibrant, active place that’s always improving.”

“There’s a little bit of everything,” Iglesias said. “Grocery, restaurant, shops, movies. It’s easy and casual and you don’t have to go out of your way to do anything.”

One of the highlights of the lunch was the music. There were performances by Dirty Cello and Juxtapositions.

“The music is nice and inviting,” Iglesias said. “It creates a nice little ambience.”

Juxtapositions was hired to curate the music and perform. Freya Seeburger of Juxtapositions finds purpose in playing music at events.

“To make music with friends, it’s really fun,” she said. “I hope that there’s an event like this every day. I would totally help organize and perform.”

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Day 6 – Looking into the future

Mosaic reporters Jacky Tsang, Megan Robalewski, Sara Ashary and Semira Sherief enjoy some free time in newsroom. // Photo by Mosaic staff

Mosaic reporters Jacky Tsang, Megan Robalewski, Sara Ashary and Semira Sherief enjoy some free time in the newsroom. // Photo by Mosaic staff

By Sara Ashary, Mosaic Staff Writer and part-time clairvoyant

(Editors Note: Saturday is usually a slow day in the newsroom, so we’ve allowed Mosaic staffer Sara Ashary to take a hypothetical look into the future of Mosaic’s 2015 class)

So today I did a lot of writing but the most interesting thing was predicting with my Mosaic squad where we each will be in 20 years. Here we go…

Steezy and Hannah: We decided to put them together because their futures will be alike. They each are going to be with someone that is like a hippie and/or an animal lover. Their families will go to music festivals and take many photos.

Sara: I think I will become an accountant.

Aysha: She will become a successful podcaster and talk about Middle Eastern problems and give a whole new view to everyone.

Joelle: She is going tp be like the next Melinda Gates. She is going to be smoking rich because her husband is like a computer genius. She is going to do yoga in the mornings, wear nice expensive simple dresses. She will do a whole lot of charity work while being super smart. She will be a very influential activist.

Jacky: Jacky is an interesting man, so he will take life as it goes.

Tomas: He is going to manage the Earthquakes with like a bluetooth on his left ear and a clipboard in his hand. AKA Making bank.

Noah: One look at Noah and you will understand: He will be an Anchor Man for channel 4 news.

Rachel: National Geographic Photographer that travels around the world. She will wear khakis and green cargo jackets with red toms.

Kaitlyn: She is going to have a PhD but have no idea what to do with it. She will probably end up alright and make herself a great life, living in Palo Alto.

Semira: Semira is such a beautiful soul. I see her marrying a celebrity (like Chris Pine). There will be pictures of her wearing sunglasses, Starbucks in her hand and yoga capris.

Matt: Famous Novelist, like the next John Green. Touring around the country for his new book.

Adele: She is going to be like a CEO. Like imagine her coming into our reunion and she is wearing a pencil skirt and talking on the phone, screaming at her assistant for giving her the wrong fax.

Megan: Megan is going to live that American life and live that high class life. There be a white picket-fence home with two kids. She will drive a Mercedes.

David: David is going to be doing some freelance photography and live alone in this really boyish apartment.

Shannon: Holy guacamole! I do not even know. Maybe the first Asian-American president. She is independent and smart.

Day 4 – Safety vs. Instinct

Mosaic reporters visit Cream, a popular ice cream  joint down South 1st Street in San Jose.  // Photo by Hannah Chebeleu, Mosaic Staff Photographer

Mosaic reporters visit Cream, a popular ice cream joint down South 1st Street in San Jose. // Photo by Hannah Chebeleu, Mosaic Staff Photographer

By Shannon Yang, Mosaic Staff Writer

Yesterday was pretty eventful.

First, I realized that one of my sources of my story about a computer science summer program bailed on me. Twice. I had to keep bugging him over the phone. I also counted my money from my stipend and apparently, I had already burned through most of my food money for the week. (I probably bought too much pearl milk tea and other indulgences.)

Even worse, my SJSU wifi didn’t work and I couldn’t use my phone’s data because I was running out of that, too. This meant that I couldn’t check my email or my iMessages or work on my story from by phone. Pretty much torture.

Basically, I was stuck.

We had a photojournalism slideshow last night with Togo’s sandwiches. Brian Nguyen and Josie Lepe walked us through their work and major takeaways. Even though I’m not a photographer, it was fascinating and there were things that just applied to all journalists.

After the slideshow, practically everyone decided to stop at the dorms and go get milkshakes. I was really tired, but milkshakes. What could be better?

When we got to My Milkshake, though, many of us decided it looked good… but was way too expensive (we already blew too much of our money anyway). So a group of us went to CREAM instead. But I think we got a little lost, which is why we walked by the corner of First and Santa Clara.

It was a bustling area. There were many homeless people on that street. And when we got to that street corner, there was someone being taken away by firemen on a stretcher covered in white cloth. There was an ambulance: a little blue and yellow Santa Clara County EMS Paramedics truck.

What was going on?

Our journalists’ instincts told us to cover the event. I was dying to do so, to get another byline and report on what could be a major thing.

But our human instincts said, “It might not be safe. And we came out here to get ice cream.” So with that, we crossed the street and went to CREAM.

Standing outside the shop, though, we decided we were first and foremost journalists. Kaitlyn, Adele, and I went back to the scene, but everyone had already left. The blue and yellow truck was still there, but there were no firemen or police in sight. Only one old man in a wheelchair. He wore glasses and a bandana, and his beard was white. His outfit, all black, was supplemented by a black backpack, and he guarded a shopping cart filled with a suitcase piled on several other things.

We asked him about what just happened, and he told us that his friend had gotten a heart attack so he called 911. Then he told us about his life: how he went to prison but soon turned his life around, how he is featured in books and on YouTube, how he has six kids between the ages of 17 and 43 around the country that he was going to visit once he got his money. He recounted the story of scars on his belly and a fight he had.

To demonstrate his point, he pulled out a knife. In the middle of our interview. Kaitlyn gasped. Adele kept calm, held her phone, and kept recording the interview. I squirmed and straggled against the wall of the big building we were next to, trying not to be obvious that I was a little scared.

He kept talking. When he stopped, Kaitlyn and Adele said later, they were ready to leave. But I asked another question: what the moment was that turned his life around. Because it didn’t make sense to me that he had been charged with several murders and went to prison, but he became a drug counselor and now was a homeless guy with a knife. I wanted to know his story.

After the interview, it felt like something was off in our souls. We didn’t even end up going to CREAM. We went back to the dorm and consulted Joe, our dorm dad, to talk about what would have been the best course of action. By this time, we were pestering ourselves with questions.

Should we have covered the event at all? Should we have left when he pulled out his knife? Should I have asked another question?

I didn’t suspect this at all until it was brought up, but through our conversation we concluded that this man may very well be mentally ill or crazy. His story might not be credible. He suggested that if we find more people, we could do a story on that street corner.

But the three of us, coming from very sheltered communities, were still fixated on safety, and that knife. Adele lives in Fremont, Kaitlyn lives in Pleasanton, and I come from the “Grand Duchy of Palo Alto,” as Joe calls it. And another story idea came out of this fear: the need for homeless people to carry around knives in order to defend themselves. Joe told us to just walk in downtown San Jose, go to St. James Park, and we’ll realize that homelessness or a crazy story isn’t just in one guy. It’s everywhere.

This incident was scary. I will remember it for a long time. It’s about how to stay safe and find the balance between being a journalist and being human. It’s about credibility and craziness. And it’s about learning from our mistakes. So last night, I learned a lot. It’s more than anything I could learn by staying in the classroom. Even the newsroom. It isn’t traditional learning, and this week I have called several people to write a real story, but you can go one step further. The incident has made me think about privilege, about the untamed world of “the streets,” about how we can help people like the man we met.

Sometimes you just have to step out of your comfort zone.

Day 2 – Be aggressive

Mosaic staff writer Shannon Yang works on her story before deadline.

Mosaic staff writer Shannon Yang works on her story before deadline. // Photo by Creo Noveno

By Shannon Yang, Mosaic Staff Writer

Today I did my first ever Mosaic interview. I’m working on a story about a coding summer program, so I interviewed one of the co-founders by phone.

At first, I was very nervous and I didn’t know how to approach the interview. I had no idea what to ask. I was stalking his company and his summer program over the internet, and I knew more than normal people would because my brother and many of my friends are hackers in his circle, and I even know some people who had gone through the program.

But then I realized my knowledge was only skin deep. I knew what they were doing but I didn’t really understand why. Or why it was cool. Or anything deeper, really. So that’s what I set out to do. I came up with a list of a ton of questions.

My editor, Marcos, told me that I didn’t sound confident. I needed to kick ass and rock his socks over the phone and sound like I was more than just a 15-year-old. After all, this co-founder saw people my age kicking ass by making cool apps. Marcos also told me to not procrastinate, and to never fall into teenage wasteland. I was a journalist, not just a 15-year-old.

This guy, the co-founder, was a chill guy in his early twenties, and he understood many of the realities of youth today. He was easy to talked to – and he liked to talk. One of my challenges ended up being trying to retain all of his quotes.

But I’ll admit, they weren’t the best questions. I asked things like, “How much money did you guys make?” which he didn’t tell me. But he did tell me about the faults in the traditional educational system, and how he was frustrated and set out to change that. He told me the successes and the philosophy behind the program. And he invited me to follow up and to visit the site in Sunnyvale next week.

Today I learned how to put my insecurities aside and be more aggressive. And even though some people don’t know what journalism is (one of my friends asked me today), it can be pretty damn powerful.