The Oaklandside officially went live two years ago today, though OG readers may remember that we started reporting COVID-19 stories at our sister site Berkeleyside a few months before that. Back then, we were a team of two—myself and our intrepid news editor Darwin BondGraham. We launched our wildly popular Saturday newsletter, and then, and then things really took off.

We certainly didn’t expect to launch a new local newsroom for Oakland at the start of a global pandemic. But that’s how it shook out, and I know I speak for all nine full-time members of the Oaklandside team when I say we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Coronavirus coverage has of course saturated our work since day one, but it’s always been our mission to surface surprising, hidden, underreported stories in Oakland, too—and when I say “mission,” I mean that literally. Before launching Oaklandside, we spent months asking Oaklanders what they want journalism to do for them, their communities, and their city. What we learned from you became a set of guiding principles shaping everything we do, and our award-winning Mission Metrics program ensures that we keep learning from you year after year.

Today, over 2,600 people support this work as members, keeping our journalism freely accessible to their neighbors across the city. Over 20,000 people subscribe to our newsletters. (Not one of them yet? Let’s fix that.) And this year, we’re proud to present a number of exciting live events, from our Culture Makers series—join us for a conversation on food justice at the New Parkway on June 23rd!—to this fall’s Oaklandside Live, a daylong celebration of local reporting and a chance to go deeper on the issues that matter. (More details coming soon.)

To those who’ve been with us since day one: thank you. To those who discovered us recently: thank you. And to those who support this work to help The Oaklandside show up for Oakland for many years to come: thank you.

Check out some highlights below.

On its 150th birthday, we took a dive into Oakland’s famous lagoon, once known as the “Lake of 1,000 Smells.”

Unsurprisingly, more people have visited our COVID guide than any other single story since we launched in June 2020. This award-winning work, along with our free text-messaging service answering Oaklanders’ questions about getting vaccinated, embodies our commitment to helping people in Oakland stay safe and healthy, not just providing them with news.

Marriage proposals, work-outs, and nature walks are just a few of the ways that people in the know enjoy Oakland’s secret stairways. Now you can be one of them, with the help of this moving and beautiful essay from widely beloved Oaklandside contributor Jose Fermoso.

When it comes to reporting on the thousands of Oaklanders who live here without secure housing, language matters. This “How We Work” post from housing reporter Natalie Orenstein explains how she works with community members to make these choices. We’ve heard from a number of educators and researchers around the country about how they’ve used this piece in their own work.

Oaklanders’ appetite for good food—and a good story—knows no bounds. The reopening of this popular Dimond restaurant was highly anticipated, and the article was one of our most popular of 2021.

We marked the 30-year anniversary of one of our region’s worst natural disasters—the 1991 ‘Tunnel Fire’—by producing a 30-minute podcast looking back at those fateful days, and what it can teach us about being prepared for the future.

When frightening attacks against residents of Asian descent sparked a national reckoning in early 2021, we looked for evidence that well-publicized assaults in Oakland Chinatown were racially motivated. What we discovered was nuanced, and opened up important conversations about public safety, history, and belonging.

Gun violence has been a public health crisis for years in Oakland, one that’s only become worse during the pandemic. The reasons why Oakland communities are so afflicted are complex and intertwined with our city’s history, structural racism, and economics. We turned to someone with direct experience to help us understand the cycle of violence that continues to impact so many in The Town.

Downtown Oakland erupted in protest in the days following the murder of George Floyd by a white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin. The civil unrest crested on June 1, when Oakland police quelled protesters with tear gas, rubber bullets, and other less-lethal weaponry. OPD claimed its actions were justified. Our visual investigation of that day proved otherwise.

The Oaklandside launched at the beginning of the pandemic and our pages, sadly, have since brought news of many longtime establishments that were forced to close shop. But some reports hit harder than others, and this story was a blow to the many fans of this game-changing Oakland restaurant and its coveted buttermilk fried chicken.

Tasneem Raja is the Editor-in-Chief of The Oaklandside. A pioneer in data journalism and local nonprofit news startups, she co-founded The Tyler Loop, a nationally recognized community news platform in East Texas. She was a senior editor at NPR's Code Switch and at Mother Jones, where the team she led helped build the first-ever database of mass shootings in America. She started her career as features reporter at The Chicago Reader and The Philadelphia Weekly, and lives in Oakland with her husband and daughter.