Luisa Capetillo Birt...
Arecibo, Puerto Rico...
The North Bay Organizing Project (NBOP) is a grassroots, multi-racial, and multi-issue organization comprised of over twenty-two faith, environmental, labor, student and community-based organizations in Sonoma County, California. NBOP seeks to build a regional power organization rooted in working class and minority communities in the North Bay: Uniting people to build leadership and grassroots power for social, economic, racial and environmental justice.
We have had great success in developing leaders and winning policies to minimize deportations, reduce suspensions/expulsions from our local schools, provide free public transportation for students, gain greater rights for tenants and defend our communities.
WE ARE A POWER ORGANIZATION.
We seek effective ways to address the divide. We organize alongside working people, congregations, environmentalists and neighborhood organizations. We nurture young Latino professionals, and youth who are eager to lead but lack a venue to do so. Standing with other progressive organizations, immigrant rights organizations and unions, we know that no matter how hard poor people work, without organizing for structural change the conditions that keep them poor will continue.
NBOP BUILDS LEADERSHIP BY IDENTIFYING AND CHALLENGING INDIVIDUALS.
Utilizing direct leadership trainings, meeting facilitation and the development of personal narrative, we empower people to engage directly with issues that affect them. Leaders are asked to state their self-interest, and hold one another accountable. We are proud to produce a diverse cadre of leaders who can engage in multi-lingual settings across diverse social sectors.
LISTENING TO ONE ANOTHER LEADS US TO TAKE ACTION TO CREATE CHANGE.
NBOP work includes, but not limited to:
The Rapid Response Network provides a way for people to respond to fear and anxiety in our community as a result of the increase in immigration enforcement, ICE raids and other attacks against our communities. The network provides a 24 hour hotline to immigrants facing a raid by federal immigration agents, dispatches trained legal observers to the raid location, provides legal defense to affected communities, and offers accompaniment to victims and families following a raid.
To mobilize an emergency response network, serve as witnesses to immigration enforcement actions, uphold the rights of immigrants, and provide services to affected North Bay residents.
Right to a Roof
The North Bay Organizing Project leads a renewed campaign for rent control and just cause eviction policies in Santa Rosa in 2019. In November 2018, we won from Santa Rosa City Council an extension of the Govenor’s 10% Rent Gouging ordinance, put in place after the wildfires of October 2017. Alongside Legal Aid of Sonoma County, we are currently organizing a Sonoma County Tenants Union. Together we hold monthly tenants rights workshops and advocate for tenants facing housing discrimination.
In 2016, our Right to a Roof campaign was able to win a major policy victory in the City of Santa Rosa, CA, passing a rent stabilization and just cause eviction policy through the City Council on a 4-3 vote. The policy would have capped annual rent increases at 3% for all multi-unit apartments built before 1995, as well as created an official board by which tenants could challenge unjust evictions. Over 13,000 households would have benefited. These policies were won after an 18-month campaign on our behalf, but also after Santa Rosa renters had seen 50% rent increases over the last 5 years, with a 1% vacancy rate.
Within a month, our opposition had blocked the policy by paying fraudulent petitioners to gather signatures at $7 per signature. This forced a Special Election in June of 2017, which our rent control measure lost by 781 votes. Voter turnout was only 35%, and opposition spent nearly $1 million, unheard of in the history of Santa Rosa politics.
Two-thirds of renters in Santa Rosa are people of color, and the vast majority are undocumented workers who form the backbone of Sonoma County’s economy. More then 50% of these renters spend more than 2/3rds of their paychecks on rent, leaving families vulnerable to ongoing cycles of poverty and health disparity. The wild fires of October 2017 exacerbated an already terrible situation, with Santa Rosa alone losing 5% of its housing stock on top of the already dire situation.
The Rights of Mother Earth / The Rights of Nature
The wildfires highlight the impact of current practices on the poorest and most vulnerable people of Sonoma County including our elders, our immigrant communities, renters, and communities of color.
We know that as a community, we are not alone – that all over the state, the nation, and the globe, the impacts of climate change are overwhelmingly borne by the most vulnerable.
The Justice for the Environment task force has spearheaded a campaign for the Rights of Nature. The Rights of Nature identifies ecosystems and natural communities not merely as property, but as entities that have an independent right to exist and flourish. Laws recognizing the rights of nature transform the status of natural communities and ecosystems from things to be owned into rights-bearing entities with privileges that can be enforced by people, governments, and communities.
It is not enough to build an equitable future. We must build an equitable now.
Immigrant Defense Task Force
Right after the October firestorms, Latino leaders drew attention to the dangerous exclusion of Spanish-speaking people from fire alerts, services, and other fire relief.
The firestorms that devastated Sonoma County did not distinguish between citizens and non-citizens, nor between renters and owners. All of us who live in the county were affected by these fires, but we have unequal access to fire relief.
Latino people represent 24.9% of the residents of Sonoma County, yet Spanish-speaking and undocumented people were ignored, endangered, and disrespected during the Sonoma County firestorms in October 2017.
Planning for future natural disasters must remedy these exclusions and this treatment and involve suggestions and recommendations from Spanish-speaking people affected by the fires.
NBOP’s voter engagement work connects to all of our issue campaigns: Housing, Immigration, and Justice for the Environment. The communities where we work are the ones most affected by all of these issues. We are also using the deep work on democracy – Door to door canvassing, candidate forums, community newspapers, power analysis, Democracy School, etc., to strengthen our narrative that connects all three of these issues to one another and to the larger problems of structural racism, corporate control of our government and economy, and the erosion of the public sphere.
Latinx Student Congress
Our Latinx Student Congress organizes Latinx based social justice clubs on 12 Sonoma County high school and college campuses. This effort expanded by bringing on college student interns in order to be able to work with more young people. The clubs meet weekly on their campus and identify problems they seek to change. Monthly they all come together to learn and develop their leadership via trainings, mentorship and issue campaigns.
A member of POWER California (formerly Mobilize the Immigrant Vote), the Student Congress registered over 800 first time youth voters prior to the June 2018 primary elections. This fall the congress made phone contact with 1,700 voters inviting them to participate locally, as well as nationally, in voting their values.
Immediately after the California fires our initial action centered on working with low income and undocumented communities to directly address the inequities of the response to the wildfires. Our response is centered around the concepts of a Just Recovery – a recovery focused on the needs of people and the planet, a deepened democracy, and racial and environmental justice.
Undocufund – The UndocuFund, formed by NBOP and our allies Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, The Graton Day Labor Center and North Bay Jobs with Justice, has distributed $6.3 million dollars directly into the pockets of the Sonoma County undocumented population.
Immigrant Defense – We continue to organize and lead the North Bay Rapid Response Network (Sonoma, Napa and Solano Counties) that serves to verify and document ICE raids, accompany undocumented community members to immigration hearings, and provide ongoing training to legal observers, accompaniment teams, and community members.
Right to a Roof – We have expanded our work on tenant protections, and continue to lead a coalition to gain greater protections for tenants. Rents had risen 50% over 5 years prior to the fires and spiked 36% more after the fires. A 1% vacancy rate has left renters and low wage earners more vulnerable then ever, and many are rapidly being displaced from our region.
Sanacíon del Pueblo – Learn more about our people’s healing clinics here.