Growing up in a house of community advocates where social justice was an everyday conversation–from the dinner table to car rides to and from school–the importance of place and purpose is deeply engrained in how I believe change can happen.
That is why I am so grateful for the conversations we are having in the five counties we serve. We at TSFF are thinking about our course and how we can best set a clear and purposeful direction to address the unfortunate but true influence of race, economic status, and place on opportunity in the region.
The conversation in San Francisco hit on the highs and lows of what this means in the Bay Area and all that comes to the surface when we work to address issues of affordability, access, and opportunity for families in our region. We heard many stories of families who cannot make ends meet, children who aren’t able to move back home and live in the neighborhoods they grew up in, and how policies and practices not just in San Francisco, but across the region, are having a day to day impact on the lives of San Franciscans.
We heard how San Francisco is a city of fewer and fewer families, and questions about the implications of being a city with so few children. We heard about the continued outmigration of communities of color, and that the very people who are working hard to serve those in most need in San Francisco are not able to maintain affordable housing in the current rental market.
We also heard bold solutions that in particular called for work beyond city silos, embracing a regional platform that looks at the interconnectedness that our region is and continues to become.
The trajectory we’re on in terms of concentrated income and wealth, and growing gaps in achievement and opportunity in the region is not sustainable. We can’t have such a small group of people benefiting from and contributing to the well-being of the community. That’s why for TSFF, equity is the issue of our day.
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. We’re hearing common threads through the region – affordability, isolation, fear around displacement. That said, we know that there nuances in what residents are experiencing in cities and neighborhoods across the Bay, from Bayview to Fremont, from East Palo Alto to San Pablo. As we build our regional agenda, the nuances at the community level will be at the heart of a successful strategy.
Thank you again to all who participated in San Francisco. Your voices are paramount and central to our work. In addition to asking people to share stories in person, we’re also doing so virtually. I invite you to visit bayareavoices.org to read and continue to share stories about your lived experiences in the Bay Area.