Mission Action Gifts

 Our March Mission Action gift is going to the local program Food Is Free Solano.  Their mission statement reads “We believe that food is a basic human right. Our goal is to create community, foment happiness and feed people. Everyone deserves access to nutritious, culturally relevant food.”  They operate three programs:  Food Is Free permanent and temporary food stands at numerous locations throughout the county, Park-It Market, a mobile unit bringing food directly to neighborhoods, and Solano Gleaning Initiative, where volunteers come to pick fruit that homeowners don’t want or can’t use.  Find out more (and request your trees to be gleaned!) at their website, https://foodisfreesolano.org/ .

Our April Mission Action gift will go to Ample Harvest.  This organization is a nationwide non-profit that uses technology to end food waste and hunger, reduce malnutrition and help the environment in America by educating and empowering millions of home/community gardeners to easily find a local food pantry eager for their surplus garden bounty.  Ample Harvest envisions an America where millions of gardeners eliminate the hunger, malnutrition and the waste of food, in their own community.  They also help those who need food to find local food resources.  Find out more (and learn where to donate your own excess produce!) at their website, https://ampleharvest.org/ .

A Very Different, But Successful Faire

 Because of the virtual nature of this past year’s Global Holiday Faire, we will never know how well we did raising money for the twelve organizations that we promoted through our virtual marketplace. But we do have some numbers and we do know that we had a positive impact on all of those non-profit organizations, and in one case, more of an impact than ever before!
 

Here is what we know - we raised over $1,500 for SERRV through our group sale. Undoubtedly, we raised more than that on the website. We did a group sale for Women’s Bean Project which raised over $440 and we know for sure that shoppers used our exclusive coupon code online, so those sales were even higher. We donated gift baskets to Loma Vista Farm to sell during their Christmas Tree sale which raised $127. That was a small way for us to contribute to their cause and money that they wouldn’t have had without the baskets from our church and the Faire’s ecumenical committee. We know that we raised over $660 for Concern America. That is a great number for online sales! With the incredible amount of donations that we received (over $1,000!) and with some other funds, we were able to donate $550 to the DePaul Women’s Center, and $600 to both Genesis House and the Amador St. Hope Center, all of which are long time partners of the Faire.
 

We are still hoping to get some more reports from a few of our vendors. We know that we sold over $300 for Global Mamas, but we may have raised quite a bit more. We know anecdotally that we had shoppers make purchases through the Franciscan Peace Makers, but we have no idea how much. Again, anecdotally we know that we raised money for Arbor Day Foundation from their alternative giving program, but have no idea how much. We promoted Milestones of Development and hope that shoppers visited their site and made some donations, but we will never know. We certainly know that we had a lot of visitors to our website and we know that we did a great job of spreading the word about all of these organizations.
 

I did skip one of the organizations as I wanted to give it its own space. We set up a special fundraising page for Heifer International and we set a goal of $1,500 as that is the average we’ve raised for them over the last 10 Global Holiday Faires. To say that we blew past that number would be an understatement. We raised $3,932 on that fundraising page! Plus, we received other donations directly to the Faire which were intended for Heifer, which brought our grand total raised to $4,282! We were blown away by that response. That is by far the most we’ve ever raised for Heifer in over 20 years of supporting them from the very first Faire. Last year had been the best ever, but we raised $1,887 more than that previous record. So a big thank you goes out to everyone who donated to this great effort!
And thank you to everyone who placed an order for SERRV and Women’s Bean Project for our special orders, to everyone who made a purchase or a donation to one of our vendors, to everyone who donated directly to the Faire, to everyone who made a gift basket, to everyone who helped promote our Virtual Marketplace and make this Faire as successful as it was in such difficult situations.

Don’t forget, we will be back. Mark your calendars now for December 4, 2021. We look forward to seeing you (hopefully in person) then!

Common Ground Makes An Impression

At the Vallejo City Council on October 27, Common Ground made a presentation on various models of Citizen Oversight for the Vallejo Police Department.
 

In order to present this information, the Public Safety Team met with hundreds of community members to hear their concerns and discuss issues with experts on oversight. The intent is for this to lead to study sessions, expert forums, more community input, and listening sessions with the VPD. We showed the City Council and the viewers who Common Ground is and what it can do when we organize. When we say we want to be at the table we mean it!
 

AND BOY DID WE MAKE AN IMPRESSION!
 

The City Council could not have been more complimentary. They all praised not only the presentation, but the dedication of our organization. The Mayor also mentioned including Common Ground in the weekly City of Vallejo Newsletter that goes out to thousands in Vallejo!
 

In other Common Ground news, the Mobile Crisis Unit Team is currently contacting people and organizations in the County in an effort to find all the people who have invested interest in making a mobile crisis unit in Vallejo-Benicia. The County currently is embarking on a mobile crisis unit pilot program that will begin in Fairfield and Dixon in January, but may not come to Vallejo until 2023 at the earliest! That is not good enough... People are hurting, people are dying, and there is no time to wait! So we are hoping to pressure the county to open a unit in Vallejo or for the city to start an independent crisis unit. There is a lot of excitement for this from non-profits, hospitals, city official, and community members, so the time is now to get to work!

Common Ground Victory

 Governor Newsom recently signed into law an expansion of the California Earned Income Tax Credit to include ALL Californians, regardless of immigration status. This decision will extend the credit, year after year, to over to 2 million undocumented immigrants.
 

California IAF leaders have been organizing since March to find relief for immigrant workers who have been disproportionately impacted by the health and economic fallout of Covid-19.
 

“What we have been pressing for is justice for essential workers, not charity,” said Fr. Arturo Corral, Pastor at Our Lady Queen of Angels Church in Los Angeles. “It cannot be disputed that immigrant workers are bearing the brunt of pandemic-related health risks in order to keep all our boats afloat. We could not provide food for our families without their labor. They pay billions in local and state taxes, and they contribute over 180 billion dollars to our economy. And they have been ruthlessly left out of federal relief."
 

"Governor Newsom’s decision to include these taxpayers in the Cal EITC means that our state is finally beginning to recognize our immigrant workforce and to value their labor.” Fr. Arturo Corral
On May 5, 2020, over 1,200 California IAF leaders convened on Zoom, along with 10 Bishops and 9 state legislators to press Governor Newsom to expand the Cal EITC. More than 1,000 faith and community leaders signed on to a letter in support of the expansion, and in the thick of budget negotiations organized hundreds of leaders to send letters to the Governor and to the top leadership of the senate and assembly.
 

Congratulations to all involved in this fight, including Common Ground!
-The Old School Organizers Who Got it Done on Zoom, High Country News

Huge Common Ground Event

Last week Common Ground held a Public Safety Civic Academy to share community stories with our civic leaders in Vallejo. With over 100 in attendance, we spoke to the community including State Assembly Member Tim Grayson, City Manager Greg Nyhoff, and Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams. We had them listen to the months of research and stories gathered from our house meetings, then we asked some questions:   

-Chief Williams, we want to work WITH you to build a culture of true accountability. We know it will take time, but we believe the first step is for officers to listen. Will you work with us to organize listening sessions so our members can share stories like these directly with your officers? He answered, Yes! (Side Note: Sessions are being scheduled now!)

-Mr. Nyhoff, will you meet with Common Ground in the next month to discuss how Vallejo can build a police accountability model that has some real teeth? He answered, Yes! (Side Note: A meeting is scheduled for early Sept.!)

-Chief Williams, will you commit to pulling together a meeting with the Common Ground, the county, and local hospitals, and invite our state Assemblyman Tim Grayson, to start working on a mobile crisis unit THIS MONTH? He answered, Yes! 

-Mr. Nyhoff, as the city manager, you make a lot of decisions about how the city’s money gets spent. Do you commit to working with Common Ground to determine spending priorities for the tax revenue if the tax passes – and do you commit to bringing developers to the table to negotiate with the community BEFORE their projects are approved? He answered, Yes!

This could all be lip service, but that is where we come in! Common Ground is not a flash in the pan – we are here for the long haul. We know this work takes stamina. That’s why we built this organization. The City Manager, and the Police Chief, have committed to working with us. We WILL hold them accountable, but we need to be accountable too! Now it’s up to us – WE WANT TO HAVE 10 LISTENING SESSIONS with police officers between now and October 5th. We have already invited our current city council, and all the candidates for mayor and city council, to our BIG ACTION ON OCTOBER 5th where they'll listen to what we’ve heard, and commit to working with us.

“The time is always right to do the right thing.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
Not only will we have to repent for the sins of bad people; but we also will have to repent for the appalling silence of good people.”
-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Common Ground Update

The Covid-19 pandemic has inflicted a toll on Vallejo’s people and economy, and is revealing the underlying disparities in our society. Across California, African-Americans, Latinos, and Asian-Pacific Islanders have double the mortality rate of white residents. People living in the poorest neighborhoods have a mortality rate that is four times that of people living in the wealthiest neighborhoods. Common Ground's conversations with the community paint a familiar picture: these groups are more likely to have to work outside the home to survive, and are more likely to be forced to live in crowded housing, and to have underlying health conditions.

These factors reflect our society’s historic disinvestment in institutions and services that support the well-being of marginalized groups, and communities of color, as well as decades of discrimination that have kept these groups, especially African-Americans, from gaining wealth. Violence, including at the hands of police, is part of this picture.

In dozens of meetings and conversations over the last month, Common Ground has been hearing from residents spanning Solano and Napa Counties racial and economic diversity. While funds for basic services are desperately needed in this time of Covid-19, many residents are also feeling a lack of trust in city government, especially in the police department. 


So we are stepping into action. Along with continuing to hear stories from the community, the Covid Team is making suggestions to Solano County on how the $46 million CARES Act should be past. And the Public Safety Team is meeting with the Vallejo Police Chief, County Supervisors, City Council members, and community activists to gather info from them and to tell them what our community wants from our Public Servants.


Upcoming Events:
Public Safety Team Meeting 7/28/20 6pm - 7:30pm
Covid-19 Response Team Meeting 7/29/20 6pm - 7:30pm
Public Safety Civic Academy ACTION 8/17/20 Time TBD