By Doug Porter
Today I’ll talk about individuals who are making a difference in a very nice way. They’re not politicians, just ordinary people doing extraordinary things in San Diego who deserve recognition. I wish I had gold medallions or fancy embossed certificates to give them. All I have are my words of praise.
As I’ve been reflecting on the past year one thing that stood out was the leadership shown by women in activist causes around San Diego. Despite many not-so-good things happening in the past year, their dedication to causes near and dear to progressives was outstanding. Oh, and there is one guy on this list. It just worked out that way.
On Tuesday I presented a list of people who ought to be on Santa’s Bad Boys & Girls list. Today it’s the Good Girls and Boy list. Today’s list is not meant to be in any order, nor is it inclusive. You are welcome to suggest additional names in the comments section.
Powerhouse on Two Wheels
Sam Ollinger. Executive Director and Board President of BikeSD.org, which she co-founded. She never owned a car until recently when her husband developed health issues that precluded biking. Sam is devoted to turning San Diego into a world class biking city. She was selected as a fellow for the 2014 San Diego Leadership Alliance (SDLA) Leadership Institute and she is also a member of the City Heights Area Planning Committee. We see a future for her in San Diego and District 9 politics.
Bending the Arc of History Toward Justice
Rabbi Laurie Coskey and Elizabeth Maldonado Robinson. Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice of San Diego County (ICWJ). They represent unshakable faith in the pursuit of justice. You will find them in the streets at the side of the least among us– San Diegans struggling to live on poverty wages, without affordable healthcare or no health care and no voice on the job. They remind our leaders that budgets and policies are moral documents. They know how to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.
Crystal Page. Communications Director for the Center on Policy Initiatives (CPI). Her work on Raise Up San Diego, the effort to increase San Diego’s minimum wage to $11.50 per hour and allow workers to earn up to five sick days per year, is more important than ever in laying a solid groundwork for the 2016 vote on the issue. She is a strategic thinker, clear communicator and a pleasure to work with.
Crystal has her work cut out for her this year.
Georgette Gomez. Associate Director, Toxic Free Neighborhoods/ Environmental Health Coalition Georgette is another strong voice in the social and environmental change for justice movement in San Diego. She was the face of the Yes on B & C effort to provide a buffer zone between residences and businesses in Barrio Logan. Georgette took the campaign to the streets, businesses, neighbors and city leaders. While that effort was unsuccessful, Georgette has not stopped working on community directed land use issues. We know we’ll be hearing more from her in 2015.
Antidote to Bland Booster-ism
Barbara Zaragoza. Editor, South Bay Compass. Barbara seamlessly weaves together stories in her site’s in-depth, nuanced articles. Superb writing about an under-reported part of the county. Her recently published book San Ysidro and the Tijuana River Valley captures what it has meant to live in that small border community back to the 1800’s.
Advocating for History
Maria Garcia. Author of the The History of Neighborhood House, a weekly column for the San Diego Free Press. Using original source materials, interviews, old newspaper clippings and her childhood memories, Maria has crafted a weekly series on the origins and evolution of Neighborhood House, an institution playing a crucial role in the development of Chicano self-awareness in San Diego.
The Accidental Activist
Mark Lane. Owner of Poppa’s Fresh Fish. A man who’d just started out on his quest for a part of the American Dream was watching TV News one day and saw the protests in Murrieta where they blocked the busses carrying migrants from Central America.
He started a Facebook page to push back against the hate he was seeing and took in a refugee family. Then the hate mail started rolling in. Fake reviews of his business and threats against his wife and kids were made. None of that stopped him. Last week he was in the news for an event staged with cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz collecting wrapped toys for refugee children in shelters here in San Diego, the US citizen children of deported DREAMer moms who are living in Tijuana, as well as for the children of deported US veterans.
Never Ending Activism
Martha Sullivan. Activist. Lately we’ve been seeing a lot of her as an organizer for the protest movement over SeaWorld’s treatment of Orcas. But her activism runs much deeper. She’s helped with everything from anti-war protests to Coalition To Decommission San Onofre to Occupy San Diego and beyond. We are blessed to have her in San Diego.
Winning Despite the Odds
Sarah Saez. Policy and Program Director with United Taxi Workers of San Diego, She started out as a volunteer in 2011, helping out with open house type meetings held to convince an impossibly diverse group of people near the bottom of the economic ladder to join together and better their lives. Seats at the table of of the Metropolitan Transit System’s influential Taxicab Advisory Committee was followed by recognition (even though they are not technically a union) as an affiliate of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council. And this fall they won a crucial battle when the City Council, getting a cap lifted on the number of permits issued for San Diego.
A Rising Star
Gretchen Newsom. President of the OB Town Council. And Political Director for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 569. And active with Run Women Run. And active in the Point Loma Democratic Club. Considering she’s lived in San Diego for less than four years, Newsome has accomplished much. She puts the “active” in activist; if it’s happening in San Diego, she’s there. Frank Gormlie did a terrific profile of her last year in the OB Rag.
The Coalition Builder
Andrea Guerrero. Executive Director of Alliance San Diego. Going back to her days as co-chair of Students for Educational Opportunity and co-author of the Equal Educational Opportunity Initiative, Andrea has been a coalition builder. Alliance San Diego does basic development and organizing in four areas: Human Rights, Educational Equity, Inclusive Democracy and Tax Reform. Their work on behalf of the Southern Border Communities Coalition Delegation, the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium impacts people throughout the region. Last fall the Alliance was in the news after the Metropolitan Transit System refused to allow the group to purchase ads for their get out the vote drive.
Psst. Don’t Tell Her
Anna Daniels. Editor, San Diego Free Press. Her community activism, seemingly limitless trove of local history, patience and extreme editing diligence are the glue that holds this project together. She’s the one who works with new writers, soothes troubled egos and crafts the compromises around here. Oh, and she’s got a wicked sense of humor. Unbeknownst to her, other members of the editorial board insisted she be included on this list and I heartily endorsed the notion.
See You Friday
Have a Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday, Happy Hanukkah, Habari Gani (Kwanzaa) and may all your grievances be aired at the Festivus Pole.
I’ll be taking Christmas off and will return on Friday with a list of organizations we feel are doing good work in San Diego.
On This Day: 1865 – Several veterans of the Confederate Army formed a private social club in Pulaski, TN, called the Ku Klux Klan. 1913– Seventy-two copper miners’ children die in panic caused by a company stooge at Calumet, Mich., who shouted “fire” up the stairs into a crowded hall where the children had gathered. They were crushed against closed doors when they tried to flee. 1920 – Enrico Caruso gave his last public performance, when he sang in Jacques Halevy’s “La Juive” at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
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