On July 19th, Worksafe travelled to Santa Rosa to join more than 50 workers, residents, advocates, and elected officials for a community forum titled "What Is a Just, Equitable, and Sustainable Recovery for Sonoma County?"
The gathering, convened by the Alliance for a Just Recovery (AJR), comes ten months after a devastating firestorm swept the area. But the tragedy of the fires has extended far beyond the immediate loss of life and property. The destruction of homes and the lack of rent control policies brought in predatory investors and landlords that exploited the great loss. It exacerbated the already prevalent issues of economic inequality, ecological damage, and racial injustice.
Speakers at the forum included workers, immigrants, residents, and representatives from the AJR. All participants emphasized the intersecting themes of environmental, workplace, and housing justice. Participants shared poignant stories of drastic rent hikes and displacement. A Sonoma valley resident of 28 years asked the crowd if they were ready to assist undocumented persons who had been affected, highlighting the barriers that community experienced during and after the fire.
The forum included several overlapping calls to action: a petition for rent control in Santa Rosa, the local Fight for $15 campaign, and the drive to register and turnout voters. AJR also stated their values, vision, and tasks: centralizing structural inequality in the recovery process; developing a policy agenda with labor, faith, environmental, and community organizations; organizing residents while working with elected officials; and ensuring the rebuilding process is inclusive and just.
The next AJR meeting is slated for Thursday, August 2nd at SEIU Local 1021 (600 B St. Santa Rosa). Click here to find out more!
Many thanks to Worksafe's intern, Kris Cho, for contributing this piece. Kris has been an awesome addition to the office this summer and is about to take Brown University by storm. Good luck!