Last week, with residents from Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, San Leandro and Emeryville, we came together to lift up and talk about the issues of the day in North Alameda County. I am tremendously grateful for the partnership of the hundreds of people who have joined us in this work across the Bay Area.
To do our work, we must be grounded in the voices and experiences of community, and we must harness our collective power to achieve greater opportunities for families and parents, for our kids and the future of the Bay Area we all love.
We think it’s important to listen and share more broadly what we are hearing in the VOICE sessions. I want to share with you what we heard in North Alameda County. There were consistent themes identified as opportunities to work together to come up with equitable solutions. Themes of affordable housing, gentrification and displacement, the inequities in our education system, how safety and sex trafficking is impacting the lives of our young people, and the need for much stronger systems and supports for young people to achieve their full potential were all lifted up.
There was also a clear call for deeper engagement between generations, and lifting up the youth voice, which we agree is critical to our work in community and will be continuing to build out over the coming months together.
What we also heard was tremendous pride in the incredible spirit and resiliency of the region as movement-centered, with a longstanding commitment to organizing and activism that just recently meant big wins for residents. Wins like the good jobs and community benefits agreement at the Oakland Army Base project, and a living wage increase that has sparked a regional response to build local economies that work for everyone.
Collectively, these listening sessions are an important part of setting the course for our work at The San Francisco Foundation in the short and long term.
What began in Richmond a few months ago, meeting with community members throughout the five Bay Area Counties is only the beginning of our work in building a regional agenda with all of you, our partners across the nonprofit, public, and private sectors. To achieve this vision of shared prosperity for all in our region, we need everyone.
Each of the VOICE: Bay Area sessions are a critical part of setting our course as we define strategies and tactics to reach our north star: expanding opportunity in the region.
In addition to asking people to share stories in person, we’re also doing so virtually at bayareavoices.org where you can read and submit a story about your experiences of living, working, and playing in the Bay Area.
Thank you for all that you do in service to building pathways of opportunity and prosperity for all of our residents.