In 2015, the local Rising alliances in Oakland, San Francisco, and Santa Clara County came together to found Bay Rising to share a bold, and increasingly winnable, vision for the Bay Area’s future.
Since then, we’ve shared learnings from our victories, challenges, and policy innovations tested in the Bay Area between organizers, researchers, elected officials, and other policymakers – from Sonoma to the South Bay, and from the Mission to Mount Diablo.
We’re now launching the Bay Rising Solutions Springboard, a resource and organizing hub that formalizes our shared priorities for policies to expand across the Bay Area.
We’ve presented our collection of solutions here to serve grassroots organizing efforts and amplify the impact of organizing throughout the region. Under each issue you will find a values-based framework, a list of local organizations leading work on the issue, actual organizing victories and current campaigns, examples of real policies passed, and an organizing story highlighting the learnings or personal stories that have gone into these hard-won victories.
Our hope is that organizers, researchers, elected officials, other policymakers, and everyday residents of the Bay Area can use the resources provided here as a “library of ideas” to not only learn about the work and impact of Bay Rising and our member organizations and allies, but also to amplify and replicate these solutions in more and more places across the region.
To be clear, these policies represent the floor, not the ceiling. This is not a comprehensive list of wins, either, but a sampling of the most pertinent local and regional models that have come out of Bay Rising member groups, allies, and partner organizations. We consider the policies and models listed here important first steps. Taken together, these solutions are a springboard towards our most audacious vision for the Bay Area.
We believe in moving far beyond recovery from the ongoing COVID pandemic and its impacts on our communities. The challenges we’re facing at this stage of the pandemic are not new to our communities. Homelessness, job insecurity, lack of access to health care, disinformation, violence – we were addressing these issues long before 2020, but COVID exponentially increased their severity. If February 2020 was normal, we’re not trying to get back to normal.
Bay Rising is here to build the political power of working-class communities of color, so that together with elected officials and community leaders we make the Bay Area a place where all of us are safe, housed, healthy, and cared for — where we’re leading the way in a just transition to a new, resilient economy for people and planet.
We should be able to count on our public resources when we need them most, but decades of disinvestment have left our communities under-resourced and underprepared. When disasters hit – whether it’s wildfires, inflation, a mass shooting, or a pandemic – our schools, libraries, and community centers don’t have the resources or planning they need to support us. For instance, a lot of efforts around climate adaptation have focused on big infrastructure projects like giant seawalls as ways of adapting to a changing climate. But our communities, neighborhoods, and people remain vastly underprepared, and our economy is still sending us hurtling towards deepening social, economic, environmental, and public health crises.
Resilience is built before disaster. With disasters becoming more frequent and more intense, we need deep investment in the systems and social supports that strengthen the social and economic fabric of our communities, and offer resources in times of crisis. We are organizing so that our communities not only cope and survive disasters, but find opportunities to grow and thrive.
The Bay Area we’re fighting for will be a safe and healthy place for us to live and work – with access to quality healthcare, affordable public transportation, clean air to breathe and clean water to drink, justice that gets to the roots of violence, and excellent public education opportunities for both youth and adults. Our Bay Area will end government-supported gentrification, plan for growth in coordination with those of us who already live here, and allow us to afford to live near the places we work.
And finally, we see a future in which the Bay Area puts people and planet before profit, in which corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share, and working-class families, people of color, and immigrants, not corporations, shape our budget priorities. We see a future in which the Bay Area leads the way in deepening how we practice democracy.
We won’t achieve this vision through electoral politics or policy advocacy alone. This work will always require strong person-to-person organizing efforts on the ground. By implementing a sophisticated electoral strategy paired with a commitment to base-building and grassroots organizing, we’re proving that a new progressive paradigm is possible.
As Bay Rising member Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) wrote in their report Resilience Before Disaster: The Need to Build Equitable, Community-Driven Social Infrastructure, created in collaboration with SEIU California, SEIU 2015, and the BlueGreen Alliance: “In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many difficult decisions lie ahead. But those challenges should not obscure the hard truths that this crisis lays bare. The pandemic shows us what happens when disaster hits a society with extreme inequality, an increasingly precarious workforce, an underfunded public sector, and large gaps in the social safety net. It also shows us a path forward to a just recovery. Instead of cutting public budgets, we can invest in public health and social services. Instead of further dismantling the safety net, we can create equity-centered social and economic systems that offer prosperity to everyone. Instead of relying on low-wage jobs, we can recognize and compensate essential workers as they should be and put people to work in high road careers that build resilient communities. In doing so, we will not only recover from this disaster. We will also be ready for the next one.”
Looking forward to the next decade of this work, we are optimistic and even bolder.
Sign up here to get a first look when Bay Rising releases our voter guide for the next election.
Photo credit, top to bottom: Brooke Anderson / Anti Police-Terror Project (APTP), Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN).