Dear Community Resilience Workshop Participants,
We’re looking forward to seeing you on April 17th for some great community planning!
Bay Localize and Transition San Francisco have been putting our heads together to make this workshop as productive and inspiring for you as possible.
We’d like to ask you to do a little prep for the workshop. We’ve got a small research assignment for you to dig into the history of change in your own community. Please bring the results with you to share at the workshop.
Your assignment: identify an example of a change in your neighborhood in the last 80 years or so that made it a more fair place for everyone to live. We mean “fair” in the sense of equal rights. Who was involved in making the change, and how did they make the change happen? Feel free to search on the web or ask neighbors. Examples could include ending housing discrimination, desegregating schools, equal access to jobs, etc. The effort could be ongoing, or something you you’ve been involved in, or completely new to you.
Why are we asking you to research this question? For a couple of reasons. One, since we are setting out to create change for greater resilience in our communities, we can learn from how local social movements have created change in the past. Often we stand on the shoulders of giants. Two, some of the folks who made these changes may still be out there, and can serve as valuable resources for us. Three, it gets us thinking about how resilience and social justice interrelate.
Here’s an example I looked up about my community of Berkeley. Via Google I found the website of my local library had great resources at http://www.berkeleypubliclibrary.org/system/Chapter8.html. I had no idea Berkeley had such a dramatic public struggle over housing discrimination, resulting in groundbreaking state legislation.
Change: Laws passed preventing housing discrimination.
Who got it done: Initially, a group of African American Berkeley residents who helped get new liberal white City Council members elected to support their cause. When the council passed a law ending housing discrimination in Berkeley, more conservative residents got the law overturned. In response William Byron Rumford, the first African American state assembly representative elected in our district, passed California’s Rumford Fair Housing Act of 1963. Rumford was elected by a coalition of CIO union activists, white liberals and African American voters.
How: Electoral change. Political organizing across race and class to build coalitions that got public officials elected at the local and state levels, who were able to change laws.
There are all sorts of ways to create change, which we’ll talk about. Enjoy digging into the rich history of your community! I look forward to our day together on the 17th.