It turns out wine, art, and governance reform can mix.
California Forward was on hand at last weekend’s Lafayette Art & Wine Festival, the 18th annual event that draws upwards of 100,000 people to the East Bay community.
The weather was hot and so were some conversations, as people lamented their lack of trust in California’s legislature and shaken faith that meaningful reform could help turn the state around.
Many people elected to focus on the art, wine and sunshine. But, several stopped to talk with the nonpartisan, nonprofit California Forward about how to fix the state.
After hearing that California Forward seeks to improve government performance and encourage innovation, an employee of a regional government whose husband works in technology, said, “government puts the ‘no’ in innovation,” and wished California Forward the best in its efforts.
A St. Mary’s college alum said he and his wife were fortunate to be able to send all three of their grown children to Acalanes High School in Lafayette, considered by many to be the best public high school in the state. Lafayette’s high-quality public schools act as a strong magnet for attracting new residents. But, many school districts across the state struggle with shrinking budgets, increased mandates, and shifting resources.
Despite the historic public safety realignment underway in California, only one person, an unassuming young nurse, asked about how CA Fwd plans to reduce the recidivism rate. She has worked as a nurse in rehab facilities, juvenile hall and county jails and wants to break the cycle that moves addicts through ails over and over.
One 18 year-old was too young to enter CA Fwd’s wine basket raffle, but enthusiastically offered to volunteer because she wants to help make California a better place to live.
By Sunday afternoon when Lafayette’s favorite Beatles cover band, The Sun Kings, began their set to close the festival, the wine ticket booths had gone through all of their custom-etched wine glasses – a sign that organizers met their attendance goal.
At the CA Fwd booth, hundreds of conversations were had, ideas exchanged, and a constituency for change continued to be built, one Californian at a time.
Kristin Connelly is on California Forward’s regional partnerships team and a Lafayette resident.