The city of Stockton (Flickr/calwest)
The city of Stockton has gotten a bad rap and, quite honestly, the headlines have only been feeding that giant media monster. Making Forbes’ list of Worst Places to Live, only made it worse.
In late June, city leaders declared a state of emergency with their finances, and voted to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, becoming the largest city to file in U.S. history.
Nearly five months later, community members say enough’s enough with the bad press. Many have banded together to tell a different story. This grassroots movement has a name: Stockton Forward.
“The concerns came out of the bankruptcy situation, the founding members wanted to make sure that Stockton was being portrayed accurately and purely as a community successful in supporting local programs and local initiatives,” said Ashley Robinson, spokeswoman of the coalition.
The coalition is an impressive bunch that includes the University of the Pacific, Spanos companies and Bank of Stockton.
“Stockton is a proud community with a rich heritage,” said Dea Spanos Berberian, one of the coalition’s leaders. “Stockton Forward is committed to showcasing the pride and dedication.”
“Stockton Forward has a lot of good stories to work with: a growing and dedicated business community, active and energetic nonprofit organizations, rich arts and culture, and most importantly, a justly proud community,” added University of the Pacific President Pamela Eibeck.
“Our goal is to get every community member involved. We believe with the backing of the community we will create a stronger narrative for why Stockton is such a great place to live and do work and business but also to help spur investment and opportunity,” said Robinson.
The coalition recently urged Morgan Spurlock of “Supersize Me” to do a fair report, while in Stockton, for the upcoming CNN documentary series of bankrupt cities.
In a letter to Spurlock, the group said “As the nation’s largest city to declare bankruptcy in history, we understand the relevance of including Stockton in the piece… we want to ensure you have what you need to give CNN’s audience the whole story…. We encourage you to examine how Stockton is changing the direction of the city… look beyond the attention grabbing headlines to find the real stories that make this city great, that make this city forward moving.”
Next year, members hope to hold roundtable discussions and regular meetings with nonprofits, the city council and other groups to discuss what’s going on in the community and to put new ideas on the table on how to accomplish the goals.
“Stockton has been the economic hub for this part of California since the Gold Rush. Logistically nothing has changed, it still has the same strategic advantages; shipping and transportation center, one of the top 10 agriculture counties in the United States, a great university, and industrious residents. Now we have the opportunity, once again, to show our leadership by uniting behind Stockton Forward,” said Fritz Grupe, CEO/Founder of the Grupe Companies.
The more people get involved and engaged, the faster the city of Stockton can continue working on becoming a thriving city with more stories of success… those will be the new headlines.