Over three hundred community and labor activists met yesterday, Saturday, August 27th, for an all-day economic summit and began the process of building a movement to change San Diego.
Under the title of “A Better San Diego”, yesterday’s event at Horace Mann Middle School was the culmination of months of meetings and discussions initiated by San Diego’s Labor Council. Back in the late Spring the Labor Council, headed up by Lorena Gonzalez, had called for allies from the community to join with them to build a community-labor coalition.
By time the Summit rolled around yesterday, you could see the hard work achieved by these activists. The diversity of the crowd rivaled any political grouping of San Diegans in recent history. Folks in the crowded auditorium were welcomed by Lorena Gonzalez, and she was followed by the Rev. Gerald Brown, Kelly Mayhew, Mark Cafferty, and Norma Chavez-Peterson.
After these energizing talks, the crowd bustled away into the classrooms of the school where 14 workshops were held – most centered on economic issues that San Diegans feel are important. Workshops on countering bank foreclosures, on organizing the unemployed, on the privatization of city services, on jobs, grassroots media, health care reform, halting the impounding of immigrants’ vehicles, on middle class tax reform … and more were held with full attendance by the conference attendees.
The OB Rag sponsored one such work-shop, with the subject of developing a network of community bloggers, writers, videographers who could not only write for this website, but also begin their own blogs, and be part of a network of “rapid response” letter-writers to counter negative stories in the local print press.
As people munched on their burritos provided by the Labor Council during the lunch period, they listened to keynote speaker, Richie Ross speak about the experiences and lessons he learned from fabled-farm worker organizer Cezar Chavez. “One by one, one to one,” Ross said, “that’s how movements are built. One person to one person.” He summoned the organizers and activists to frame their issues in positive, inclusive language.
Through out the hot day, speakers, organizers, and workshop leaders encouraged people to step up, join the movement to change San Diego, to change the narrative from “pension reform” to jobs and infrastructure, and to join the coalition. “We’ll be around not over for the local elections in 2012, but also in 2013, 2014, ….” one activist said.
The Coalition already has plans to host a mayoral debate on October 19th.
If you’d like to join this coalition, or receive additional information, contact either the Labor Council or email the OB Rag.