Fighting for justice and building community through ongoing conflict and healing is sacred work.
It’s the reason myself and the entire Long Beach Forward team take intentional time to pause, reflect, and connect before moving to the next step as much as possible. It’s been in these moments of calm that one quality has repeatedly appeared to us throughout 2023, whether it be during a team meeting debrief, or outside a school board meeting after a major agenda item, or on the street corner after a block of door knocking: Ubuntu.
Ubuntu is the Zulu concept of “humanity” and often translated to “I am because you are,” or as Archbishop Desmond Tutu explains, “me we.” 2023 has by no means been an easy year for many of us, whether economically, socially, or politically. At the same time, the moments where we connect, struggle, cry, and win have illustrated our sacred interconnectedness, and brought us closer to personal and societal transformation than many of us could have imagined in our lifetimes.
The collective work of Long Beach Forward over this past year has been because of you and your personal contributions. Together, we have shaped and defined what our sense of Ubuntu looks like in Long Beach:
- We brought over 300 parents, students, and school staff together over 6 Retreat-ish events at Central Long Beach schools to build relationships, build community knowledge, and support family wellbeing and mental health.
- We completed our two-year long Healthy Long Beach campaign to bring vaccine equity to the neighborhoods hardest hit by COVID-19, including our unhoused neighbors.
- We supported parents, caregivers, and community organizations within the Best Start Central Long Beach network in completing community-funded projects that taught social media safety to parents, tenants rights to low-income families, healthy parenting skills and bonding strategies for fathers and families, foundational workforce skills for employment, and leadership skills for parents of young children.
- We educated and trained 100 parents on educational rights and school-based organizing through IEP workshops and the return of our Parent Organizing Training Series.
- We restarted the Best Start Central Long Beach partnership meetings to bring parents and community leaders together in-person to build community across our differences, vote on how to spend $170,000 on community-led projects, elect 21 new members of the BSCLB Leadership Team, and advance the network’s community change goals.
- We trained and graduated 15 new advocate-commissioners through the Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute to learn the ins and outs of advocacy and service in the City of Long Beach’s 29 citywide boards and commissions, resulting in the appointment of two new city commissioners.
- We launched “The LBC Connection” podcast alongside our “RAD AF” podcast to highlight community voices and change the narrative around the issues directly impacting Long Beach.
- We collaborated with community partners to organize the inaugural “Conscious Cinema” series featuring 3 Black-centered social justice films and group discussions with over 75 people participating.
- We began organizing street vendors to help shape the City of Long Beach’s proposed Street Vending Ordinance and ensure Long Beach provides pathways and not barriers into the formal economy.
- We kicked off a five-year effort to ensure authentic community voice, engagement, and involvement in the City’s Downtown and Shoreline rezoning plan to ensure access to public space, affordable and supportive housing, and public transportation.
- We strengthened Long Beach Forward’s movement infrastructure, governance, and transparency by recruiting 9 community members to our Board of Directors, hiring a Community Organizer and Accounting Coordinator, and completing our first financial audit and 990 filing as an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
- We shifted the culture of Long Beach Forward towards personal and movement sustainability by expanding community sponsorships, implementing wellness funds for each employee, continuing our wellness days each month, awarding our first employee sabbatical for 8-weeks, and increasing our base wage to $30 an hour.
There’s so much more to our “me we” than fits in a letter, which is why we invite you to visit our digital yearbook at www.lbforward.org/ubuntu, where you’ll find articles, pictures, videos, and more from throughout 2023. It’s our way of celebrating all the work we’ve accomplished together and preparing ourselves for the work ahead in 2024.
Our vision of a healthy Long Beach where race, income, age, disability, immigration status, gender, sexuality, and zip code don’t determine someone’s future would not be possible without your individual support. Will you help us begin 2024 on a strong foundation by contributing $10, $25, or $100 by December 31, 2023?
The grassroots support from partners like you makes our Long Beach Forward community powerful enough to weather the challenges and opportunities ahead and build community knowledge, leadership, and power for the long-term. Thank you for all your shared love, support, and humanity over the past year and I look forward to seeing you over Zoom, at City Hall, and in the streets throughout the new year.
Long Beach Forward
OTHER WAYS TO GIVE:
Pay by check
Make check payable to “Long Beach Forward” and mail to:
Long Beach Forward
425 Atlantic Ave.
Long Beach, CA 90802
Long Beach Forward is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Tax ID# 87-4396256