August 2021 Newsletter
The past 18 months have called for people, organizations and systems to focus onresponding….to changing health guidance, urgent community needs, rapid unemployment, re-employment, wildfires, toxic air, rolling blackouts, water shortages, the list goes on.
Now, as the state and federal government are poised to invest generational sums of money to kickstart the economy, modernize education and infrastructure, many of us in philanthropy, public systems and community organizations are turning our attention to responding to these funding opportunities, desperate to not miss out on leveraging public dollars to benefit our communities.
At ReWork the Bay we are grappling with a fundamental question:
When is the time to shift our focus from responding to preparing?
Because while we have unquestionably endured what feels like a perfect storm of societal and economic challenges in 2020-21, the reality is that wildfires, droughts, and rolling blackouts now happen nearly every year; never in history has the U.S. gone more than eleven years without a recession; and if our inability as a country to effectively manage COVID is any indication, pandemics are likely to become a much more common occurrence.
In the video above, Equity at Work Council’s North Bay Jobs with Justice helps bring awareness to the significant challenges faced by the Indigenous, Latinx and undocumented farmworkers that rely on the wages earned during the Sonoma County grape harvest season to support themselves and their families. Perilously, the harvest season now coincides with California’s now annual fire season, exposing this community of workers to significant physical and economic vulnerabilities.
If we know all of these challenges are coming back around, whether it be in 12 months or 10 years, what prevents us from planning for the next one, rather than just continuing to respond to our current challenges? How much better organized and coordinated could we be to respond next time, if we used some of the energy and resources that are being mobilized today to prepare for tomorrow? Can we move from rapid response to proactive preparation?
To be clear, we are not talking about those communities on the frontlines who take the brunt of these challenges–we see their heroic efforts to keep critical systems online, keep their residents fed and housed, healthy and safe. But as a region, as a movement, can we take stock of the infrastructure we wish we would have had to better respond to the many challenges of 2021-22, and start building them now, for next time?
Below is an opportunity to take action by signing a petition in support of farmworkers on the frontlines, learn more about the impact of the wildfires on farmworkers, and check out a jobs plan that offers practical solutions to start preparing for tomorrow’s challenges, rather than just responding to today’s.
Sign the Petition: Farmworkers Deserve Safety and Respect in Sonoma County by North Bay Jobs with Justice, an Equity at Work Council member.
Graphic via North Bay Jobs with Justice
- California Climate Jobs Plan in partnership with Jobs with Justice SF, an Equity Work Council Member
- ‘We’re not animals, we’re human beings’: US farm workers labor in deadly heat with few protections by Michael Sainato
- Wildfire smoke linked to thousands of coronavirus cases on West Coast by Kurtis Alexander [Paywall]