By Doug Porter
As our daily newspaper demonstrated yesterday with a full section detailing the efforts of over forty individuals and organizations, there’s no shortage of people in San Diego looking to do good things. What I’d like to do today is to cast a spotlight on some of the groups whose work in 2014 included advocacy for causes we hold near and dear.
Now is the time of year when many groups dependent on donations make their pleas, hoping to tap into the holiday feelings of goodwill and the promise of a tax deduction. While I’m sure that many of the groups mentioned today would be glad to accept donations, my intent here is to say thanks for their efforts.
This list represents only those organizations I am aware of or those that have reached out to SD Free Press in the past. I’m sure there are others, and please feel free to use the comments to enlighten our readers.
Inclusion in this list does not necessarily constitute an endorsement of all aspects of each group. (I’ve grown weary of waiting for perfection.) I’ve also not listed groups that appear to be inactive at the present time.
350.org (San Diego) They’re an all volunteer organization dedicated to working on issues relating to Climate Change. Their priorities are working for a strong Climate Action Plan, community outreach and education, fighting the Keystone Pipeline, and working with the San Diego Energy District Foundation and other groups to create “Community Choice Aggregation” options in San Diego County that will allow electricity consumers to choose a non-profit provider instead of SDG&E. They have an active Facebook page, a newsletter and are always looking for volunteers (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Alliance San Diego. They’re involved with voter education, human rights, education equity and tax reform issues. In other words, they do a lot of things. And they usually do them by harnessing the power of coalition building with like-minded groups and individuals working in those areas. I worked with their voter engagement program back in the days when I had vocal chords and therefore am very biased about how good the work they do is. The Alliance sponsors the annual All Peoples Celebration on Jan. 19 honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the vision for change he inspired. Here’s the Alliance Facebook page.
American Civil Liberties Union San Diego and Imperial Counties. The ACLU works in many ways on many issues. Their issues web page lists 22 different areas of concern. They research. They educate. They advocate. And, yes, they litigate. The work done by the local chapter on behalf of Immigrants has made a real difference. Their work in Escondido in fighting for the rights of Latinos in voter representation is outstanding. And then, of course, there’s all the things about privacy they’re involved in. The local chapter is always looking for volunteers, and you can support them by becoming a card-carrying ACLU member.
Center on Policy Initiatives. You could say they are San Diego’s “think tank” for progressives, but you would be only partially right. Their research and analysis on poverty, healthcare, affordable housing and local government represents an important contribution to the community.CPI goes beyond simply researching and defining problems by coming up with model policies and showing people the steps they need to take to make change happen. Their community workshops on the city budgeting process have made an incomprehensible process accessible to ordinary San Diegans. CPI is always looking for a few good volunteers and has an active Facebook page.
Employee Rights Center They are the only organization in the San Diego area offering legal services regarding employment and labor law to any worker. Over the years they’ve collected millions of dollars in unpaid wage claims and benefits. ERC advocates for the rights of immigrant workers and holds workshops on issues ranging from disability rights to whistleblowing. They have an active Facebook page.
Environmental Health Coalition. EHC makes the connection between environmental activism and social justice, with a focus on public policies that improve the health of children, families, neighborhoods and the natural environment in the San Diego/Tijuana region. Their campaigns include green energy and jobs, healthy kids, border environmental justice and toxic-free neighborhoods. The EHC were leaders in the fight to save the Barrio Logan Community Plan (Propositions B&C).
Reactionaries have mounted an attack on the tax exempt status of EHC, complete with smear campaign invoking names (Obama, Filner, Soros…Oh My!) designed to strike fear in the hearts of right wingers everywhere. Here’s their Facebook page.
Interfaith Center for Worker Justice. (ICWJ) of San Diego County is a membership organization representing institutions and people of faith who feel called by their religious traditions to work for justice and stand up for the poor and marginalized. In other words, they are the conscience of the labor (organized or not) movement in San Diego.
They work in support of immigration reform, immigrant workers’ rights, efforts to raise the minimum wage, sick days and other worker justice campaigns Here’s the ICWJ Facebook page.
Mid-City Community Action Network They’ve done an impressive job of organizing in City Heights, one of San Diego’s most marginalized neighborhood. High school students have come together to advocate for free bus passes for economically struggling students. Residents from immigrant communities get access to health care resource. Kids fight for a skateboard park. All these projects and more have grown out of Mid-City CAN.
Stay up to date on their activism via their Facebook page.
Although the Chamber of Commerce sponsored ballot initiative has delayed implementation of the City Council ordinance, this is merely Justice Delayed, Not Justice Denied. You can keep up with developments in this struggle via their Facebook page.
The San Diego LGBT Community Center. The only question I have about The Center is: “What don’t they do?” They provide a large array of direct services, sponsor community activities, engage in educational campaigns and have helped organize San Diego’s LGBT community into a powerful political force, all with the twin goals of promoting LGBT health and human rights in mind. They are always looking for people to work with their 800 people strong volunteer groups. And here’s their Facebook page.
United Taxi Workers of San Diego Despite membership in San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, they’re not exactly a union. Call it a voluntary workers association. Somehow these folks organized immigrant groups from sometimes warring countries into a cohesive organization, achieving recognition and accomplishing goals many people thought impossible. This article by Joshua Emerson Smith at City Beat tells their story which is, to say the least, inspirational.
Veterans for Peace This year the group handed out its 2300th sleeping bag sets (sleeping bag, waterproof nylon stuff-sack and poncho) to the homeless in downtown San Diego as part of its compassion campaign. They also organized a series of weekly protests outside the gates of General Atomics in Poway, seeking to where the Predator Drone is built. They sought to get people thinking about the threat drones present to American liberties. And Vets for Peace serves as a conscience for the community, reminding us of the terrible human cost of using force in the world. Here’s their Facebook page.
At San Diego Free Press we see enabling groups like those mentioned in this article to communicate as part of our mission. We don’t, however, make a practice of printing press releases. As an all volunteer enterprise we don’t have reporters waiting to be dispatched. We believe in working collaboratively, and we welcome other groups who share our progressive vision to work with us.
On This Day: 1869 – The Knights of Labor was founded. The constitution barred “parasites,” including stockbrokers and lawyers from membership. 1944 – Tennessee Williams’ play “The Glass Menagerie” was first performed publicly, at the Civic Theatre in Chicago. 1982 – The Man of the Year in “TIME” magazine was a computer. It was the first time a non-human received the honors.
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