May 28 2015

Last January, key decision-makers and stakeholders in Long Beach turned out for a glitzy evening at the Terrace Theater to attend the Mayor’s State of the City, outlining the Mayor’s plan for his first year in office.

Wednesday night, the tables were turned as the residents took center stage to organize the 4th Annual People’s State of the City and present their vision for a more equitable city.  With the mayor and city council in the audience of 450 people, residents used music, theater, compelling personal testimony, and data to highlight the intersection between poverty, jobs, housing, environmental justice, education, and immigrant rights.  Across each issue, the disproportionate burden on poor communities of color like Central and West Long Beach was highlighted.

But the People’s vision is proactive, inclusive, and solution oriented.  It focuses on policy solutions like preventing wage theft, raising the minimum wage, local hire, Every Student Matters, community alternatives to address environmental justice, Black Lives Matter, and immigrant rights.

The People’s State of the City is part of a larger movement in Long Beach to engage residents in governance and decision-making.  Over the past three years, more than 170 community members have graduated from Long Beach Rising, which trains them in basic organizing and advocacy skills.

More than 15 residents have completed a training track on Boards and Commissions and have been placed on various boards in Long Beach.  Three council districts are piloting participatory budgeting wherein residents decide how city infrastructure dollars are spent.  Collectively, these activities serve to raise the voices of those most impacted by lack of opportunity and poor health outcomes, and communicate to decision-makers that they serve at the behest of ALL Long Beach residents.

The evening concluded with a collective commitment to the Long Beach Rising pledge: “We stand together as residents to support the vision of a Long Beach with living wage jobs, more affordable and quality housing, inclusive and supportive education, a transparent budgeting process, fair and just immigration reform, and a clean and healthy environment. We envision a healthy and safe Long Beach where residents are involved in meaningful ways and government officials are responsive to the social and economic needs of all residents.”

Building Healthy Communities: Long Beach, the Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community (the lead organizer of Long Beach Rising), and many other community organizations and residents are committed to making this vision a reality.

Click here to read Voicewaves article “People’s State Of The City Brings Top Issues To Light”