How to get involved with community organizing

There+are+many+ways+to+get+involved+with+community+organizing%2C+from+donations+to+volunteer+work.

Albert Levine

There are many ways to get involved with community organizing, from donations to volunteer work.

Albert Levine, Reporter

Interested in social and climate justice? Grassroots activism is one of the most direct ways to contribute to the effort.

Here are four local organizations, their missions, and how you can connect with them to get involved.

Sonoma County Acts of Kindness

Formed in 2019, Sonoma County Acts of Kindness advocates for housing-related policy change at the city and county levels and provides unsheltered county residents meals, bedding, hygiene items and other necessities.

One of the organization’s most important functions is to provide what volunteers call “sweep support.”

“When they’re coming in to sweep an encampment, we help folks get their belongings together and move if they need help moving,” said Heather Jackson, the group’s co-founder and volunteer coordinator, who is also formerly homeless and a recovering addict. Volunteers also help keep encampments clean by hauling trash to the dump.

The nonprofit and its 2,000 members need tents, tarps, sleeping bags and hygiene items such as deodorant, body wash and hand wipes. Portable phone chargers are always in demand, according to Jackson. To volunteer, visit socoactsofkindness.org, or if you want to donate, find the group’s Amazon Wish List by searching SCAOK Unsheltered Needs List.

California Homemakers Association

The California Homemakers Association works to end poverty conditions for Sonoma County’s low-paid domestic workers, caregivers, low-income elderly and blind and disable recipients of in-home care by providing free food, clothing, non-emergency dental care, preventative medical care, legal advice and a monthly newspaper subscription, among other services.

The organization is currently taking initiative to publicize awareness about the sustainable development goals, a list of goals internationally developed by 194 nations signed in at the U.N.

“It starts with ending poverty, reversing climate change, preserving life on land, sustaining ecosystems and managing forests sustainably,” said Greg Lomakin, CHA administrative assistant and former SRJC student.

The organization is 100% volunteer-run, accepts no government funding and is headquartered at 1819 Fourth St. in Santa Rosa. To volunteer, visit californiahomemakers.org or call (707)591-9573.

Sunrise Movement

The Sunrise Movement is a youth-led organization that organizes and endorses congressional candidates and legislature that fight climate change, and specifically in 2020, those who supported the Green New Deal.

“Climate action in general is going in the right direction. Historically, it’s been predominantly the white middle class leading the efforts and as a result, we have had much success, but we need to have a successful movement that actually addresses the climate crisis and creates the change needed. We need to mobilize people of all classes, all races, all ethnicities to create a popular movement,” said Rachel, a co-founder of the Sebastopol Sunrise Movement Hub, which has now been absorbed into the Sonoma County Hub.

One of the Sonoma County Hub’s key goals is bringing awareness to transit justice, advocating their three-step plan to the public and Sonoma County Board of Supervisors; they want increased bus service hours, frequency, and a fare-free service for youth and beyond in the county.

“We’re hoping to get really specific here, but for Sonoma County about 30 minute frequency, in Santa Rosa, 15 minutes, also fair free access for ideally, everybody, but at the very least youth and not just students,” Rachel said. “One thing that I really want to emphasize here is the county has a $2.3 billion budget, so approximately $6 million is really not a lot of money.”

“A lot of people are kind of asking us, why specifically are you focusing on transit when there’s so many other avenues that you could go down to address the climate crisis in the county? But the key here is that transit is at the intersection of both climate and social justice. In terms of climate, it accounts for most activities based emissions in the county — around 60% of the total. The current bus system is not ideal,” she said.

To get involved with the movement, visit sunrisemovement.org/ and for the Sonoma County hub specifically, hubs.sunrisemovement.org/sonoma-county or @sunrisesoco on Instagram.

Sonoma Climate Mobilization

Sonoma Climate Mobilization is a local organization that advocates for the reduction of gasses and switching to carbon-free sources by outlining 14 actions the county can take to lower emissions by 2030.

“Also, to get organized within their city county to get ready for adaptation to climate,” said Christine Hoes, a member of the organization.

The organization also helped host a Climate Action Zoom Night at the end of April, where student groups, including from SRJC’s environmental sociological class, hosted presentations, which are available to view at climateactionnight.com/2022-student-slide-shows.

One group specifically, focused on bill SB-917, a bill in front of the California Legislature that will allow the creation of a connected network plan, one example being the creation of a regional bus transit system in the bay area’s transit.

“There are 27 different transit agencies around the North Bay Area, what this bill is trying to do is converge them under one regional transit system, and to also create a one low fee fare for all riders,” said Ronan, one of the students in the group.

The bill would especially help with low income communities due to the fare differences.

“[Right now] you could go to the edge of Santa Rosa or Sonoma and get into a totally new train, and then you’d have to pay a whole different price. And that would affect a lot of people,” he said.

“I personally think that first and foremost, Sonoma County has always been grounded in social activism, right? We’ve always been really big on it. So I don’t see it dying down anytime soon. In fact, I see, I feel like since the pandemic has happened, more people become involved with more social issues. So I think it’s going to grow in the future, while equity is going to have to happen.” SRJC student Candy Bridgers said when asked on the future of activism in the county.

To get involved and view the Sonoma Climate Mobilization Strategy, visit rcpa.ca.gov/what-we-do/sonoma-climate-mobilization/.