A city address for and by the people

Every year, the Mayor of Long Beach would deliver the State of the City address and a moment to articulate a vision for real change would pass. The conversation didn’t center around working people, people of color, and glossed over the work of community groups advocating for equity in the city. In 2012, Long Beach Forward supported the efforts of the very first People’s State of the City to shift the conversation and allow community groups have an outlet that would identify issues that mattered the most to them.

Over the years, Long Beach Forward (formerly the Building Healthy Communities: Long Beach Hub) became a a key supporter and co-coordinator of People’s State of the City along with the Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community. Long Beach Forward continues to support this event by 1) co-facilitating meetings and providing space for community groups and residents to meet and plan the event; 2) helping shape and direct a cohesive message that defines the most pressing problems facing and solutions by low-income communities of color; 3) coordinating door-to-door outreach to residents to encourage them to attend and get involved; and 4) developing social media promotion and pitching the story to local reporters to get coverage and exposure among broader audiences.

Long Beach Forward’s contributions resulted in the People’s State of the City becoming one of largest and most important annual social-change events in the city. Since its inception, its attendance continues to grow as does its extensive media coverage in outlets such as the Long Beach Post and the Long Beach Press-Telegram. The event has become a launching point for organizations to create bigger campaigns that led to concrete successes—such as securing protections and rights for hotel workers with a successful living wage ballot (Measure N) and building grassroots pressure for city council to pass a Sanctuary For All policy to protect local immigrants from deportation. Gathering support for this outlet also resulted in residents becoming more effective advocates as they go door-knocking, speak at public events, and can confidently navigate the political landscape and express their concerns and solutions at city council meetings to bring about long-term change.