Californians are humbled by the opportunities and challenges we face. The financial crisis has greatly impacted philanthropy, the non-profit sector, our public education system, health services, aid to families, the disabled and many other critical services. The full effect is still to come.
I listen to those on the ground, the young people I work with every day, those most impacted by failing public systems and dysfunctional policies. I doubt that many of California’s elected officials are listening to their constituents, young or old.
The core principles and time-proven practices of our former great state created an infrastructure of civic engagement that no longer exists. Our leaders aren’t listening, they’re fighting amongst themselves.
Californians always prided themselves on moving with the times, and, if possible, ahead of the times. Now, we’re lagging behind. What is happening on a global scale is no less true at the local level. The citizens must organize and re-claim California.
Early on as a young editorial assistant working at the Watts Writers Workshop, I asked the question: what set of capacities would a community need to turn blight and despair into betterment? Civic and political leaders didn’t listen to my question.
The 1992 L.A. riots again brought violence, economic downturn and social injustice to our state. The dot.com boom brought prosperity to California, and the dot.com bust made it disappear just as fast.
Citizens are talking among themselves. They may revolt. Someone out there listen.
Donna Myrow is the executive director of L.A. Youth and one of CA Fwd’s Forward Thinkers.