As an NLC fellow this year and one of few North County residents in my fellows’ class, I have made it my mission to make North County more progressive. Having grown up in Escondido and experienced changing demographics, lack of representation and resources, and anti-immigrant efforts in recent years, I am compelled to be a change agent. I’ve been a volunteer community organizer for about 10 years and involved with social justice efforts statewide and nationally. But at the end of the day, my heart belongs at home, in my community.
North County is a region of San Diego that many of my friends and colleagues down south seem to forget about. They tell me it’s too far, there’s not much to do, and it’s very conservative. Well, I see it differently. It’s really not that far, and the opportunities here to create social change are many. On a daily basis I see opportunities for progressive efforts. I often wonder why more organizations and businesses do not focus their efforts in North County. A main reason that I chose to participate in the NLC was to meet new people, and also to become familiar with organizations that could serve as models to help me create new opportunities for progressive efforts in North County. The learning experience and network gained as an NLC fellow will be tools I use to create social change in my region.
Aside from my plan to attend law school and start a family, one of my dreams is to create a social justice community resource center in Escondido. This is one way that I will invest in my community and progressive leadership. Too often I see the focus of pooling resources in larger areas where many resources already exist. There is no better time than now to invest in progressive efforts in areas such as North County. Sure, it’s easier to work in areas where resources are readily available, but there is greater need in those where the majority of resources are not available. My motto for this is…if opportunities don’t exist, create them.
P.S. I’ll be starting a working group soon to make the Center a reality. Who’s in?