By Jessy Gill – Policy Specialist
After four life-defining years at Community Food and Justice Coalition, I write to say thank you and farewell – though not goodbye. It has been an honor and a pleasure to work so closely with the incredible partners and members of CFJC.
I came to the Bay as Occupy was beginning to gain traction. It was a time when young white middle class post-grads (like myself) were connecting the dots in their own life, recognizing what they had learned about the way of the world is not how it plays out for all. Joined and guided by those already working on issues such as student loan debt, corporate consolidation and greed, congressional accountability, etc., a new group of people started to wake up. Meanwhile nothing changed for those historically oppressed and disenfranchised, and people of color were largely left out or not included in the conversation.
With all the faults of Occupy, it remains a marker – establishing a new way to talk about the state of this country.
People are struggling, fighting, many barely surviving. As CFJC works on all levels to achieve systemic change, we hear and see stories like this every day. We see electeds making drastic cuts and refusing to invest in critical legislation and programs; organizations laying off staff and shutting down important programs making a tangible difference due to lack of funding; people being kicked and pushed out of their homes, and bearing witness to increased violence in their neighborhoods and what seems to be never-ending poverty.
Now, in a way we haven’t seen for some time, the country is watching, and people are starting to pay attention and listen – listening to tragedies, to stories of hope, to innovative solutions. Listening until they reach understanding and stepping back to recognize they can never fully understand. What we’re seeing in the Bay, and in areas across the country thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement, are allies stepping up to support, and stepping back to follow the leadership of individuals who live the realities of racially-charged tragedies daily, to follow new leaders, old leaders, and people who don’t yet realize what kind of leaders they can be (or already are).
A cultural shift is coming. And as we start to redefine what this country looks like, we will need all our networks activated and attentive.
I am sorrowed to leave CFJC, an organization that has functioned as a support system for community members and community-based initiatives for the last several years. An organization that re-defined itself on the value of creating safe space, building relationships, and Freire’s Popular Education practices. I have learned more from the knowledge, leadership, and guidance of CFJC Members, partners, and staff than I can truly say. And I look forward to continuing to learn from the CFJC networks, and to stand as a friend and partner on the other side of the Country.