Ironically, I moved to San Francisco with the clear intent on avoiding the political world. I was torn between two cities — SF and DC — and, in choosing the former, I thought I was dedicating myself to the tech world. When I wasn’t offered a full-time position after my initial tech PR internship here in the City, I took a job pouring wine and serving espresso in Mission Bay while working part-time at a sustainability-industry communications firm in SoMa. After the whirlwind of my first six months — the first three and a half of which were spent hopping around Airbnbs sending housing applications — I had one foot in the innovative future of the City and the other foot in its bohemian roots.
SF had turned out to be just as political as DC — if not, more so — and before I knew it, I was knee-deep in Bay Area politics. I assisted with the launch of Reboot Safety, developing its branding, mission and value statements, and a multi-year plan; I took an internship at Brigade for the 2016 election; and I joined local organizations such as the Dogpatch Neighborhood Associationand YIMBY Action.
Moving to the City has been unlike any other place before, and I moved a lot as a military brat. In a place like SF, where everyone is a transplant torn between their hustle(s), it’s harder to separate yourself from the previous move, from home. Granted, we are not in normal times and as a man who is part Montgomery, AL — the heart of Trumpland — and now part San Francisco, CA…I have this undeniable urge to connect the two.
People always scoff at me when I say this but there are far more similarities between Alabama and the Bay Area than either side would like to admit. Personally, I think it’s the legacy of racism that is present anywhere the stars and stripes fly — even when you’re “unconscious” of it — but when you strip away the jaded cynicism, there’s more to it than that. Demographics, geographic biodiversity, innovative populations — if you don’t believe the people of Alabama are innovative you’re living with your head in the sand…and know very little of American history, frankly — urban land use / housing policy (re: Irish and jewish people with their “suburbian” fiefdoms) and more.
And, the pettiness. Oh, lord, are we all not some petty bitches! That being said, there are current efforts to connect the two states in order to gain some insight into this divide. I think continuing and expanding this dialogue is critical to the continuation of our country.
That’s why I started ACCESS Coalition, to bridge the gap between the strongholds of both ideologies and to move both regions forward. How can San Francisco / Silicon Valley lead the world into a new era of civilization when large swaths of our own country are left behind? By building the connection, SF Bay’s nearly unlimited amounts of political, social, economic and innovative capital can support those organizations, initiatives, policies and people that move our entire nation forward where we can’t reach.
The coalition has been many forms in the past several months — its original name was Crimson Coalition and was based around alumni from The University of Alabama distributed nationwide — and is currently a combination of a Facebook group, some bare bones social pages, a newsletter and a brand new Slack channel that I’ve organized between job applications.
I knew I wanted this coalition to focus on the Access Gap. Whether it’s voting, geography, education, jobs, affordable housing, social equality, healthcare, infrastructure or more; access — and the different degrees to which communities have it — is where the spectrum of privilege lies. Additionally, I wanted the values of the organization to reflect American ideals that need to be revived in public discourse.
I’ve included the Coalition’s mission, values and driving goals below. I am based in the Bay Area and will be holding an ACCESS Coalition in-person meeting sometime in February. Hopefully, we will also be holding an in-person in Alabama sometime in February — fingers crossed! To clarify, this coalition is not a political party. We’re dedicated to closing the divides that are driving us farther apart and supporting the causes, the organizations and the People who share that vision.
If you’re interested in participating in a broad, distributed coalition with big goals, reach out to me at join[at]coalitionaccess[dot]org. You can like the coalition on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or subscribe to In Spades, our newsletter, for a news update on the dialogue around our agenda areas.
The ACCESS Coalition organizes and supports initiatives nationwide to bridge the divide isolating American communities from the pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. #AccessGap #BridgetheDivide
Accountability → Defend American Democracy
- Establish objective third-party political district drawing, term limits, ranked-choice voting and open primaries nationwide;
- Create an Election Day national holiday;
- Replace the Electoral College.
Character → Showcase Community Capitalism
- Promote corporate social responsibility;
- Practice ethics in speech, action and thought.
Connectivity → Build the Network
- Support smart growth infrastructure and development solutions;
- Develop an understanding between cities and rural areas.
Equity → Balance the Scales
- Defend the humanity in all peoples;
- End Mass Incarceration and the War on Drugs;
- Integrate our schools so every child receives the same public, American education.
Spirituality → Nurture the Soul
- Acknowledge the power and comfort of faith in American communities;
- Assert the separation of church and state.
Sustainability → Reach the Summit
- Support the proliferation of Universal Income to respond to the rise of automation;
- Invest in clean and renewable technologies and solutions;
- Strive for civic, economic, political and social global equality.