A Summit of (True) Possibilities
By Victor Abalos
Last October, in a crowded conference room in Downey, a group of community leaders, policymakers and other interested folks, gathered for free coffee and pastries and a peek at the future – or at least a look into a world of possibilities.
Aptly called the “Summit of Possibilities” – the gathering was organized by the California Community Foundation, CCF, and the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs, PBI. The goal was to share the results of an ambitious, and long overdue, survey of a part of Southern California known as the “710 Corridor.”
Parts of it are also known as the Southeast Cities or the Alameda Corridor. It’s gotten considerable attention over the years by various state and regional governing organizations because of its huge transportation significance. What often gets overlooked is the fact the region is home to hundreds of thousands of people – most of them working-class and Latino although there are considerable communities of African-American, Asian and Pacific Islanders.
That’s why CCF and PBI are focusing their attention on this region and why we’re committing the first in a series of articles in this newsletter to this effort. CCF and PBI commissioned Beacon Economics to study the eleven cities and four unincorporated communities in the area and provide an asset-based analysis – a tool they hope community leaders and especially policymakers would use to develop policies to benefit those communities.
- The region is 88% Latino
- And compared to the rest of LA County very, very young – 43% are under the age of 25
- It contains one of the highest concentrations of immigrants – many undocumented – in the country
- The median income is about $40K a year compared with almost $60K for the rest of LA County
They make less, drive too far to work every day, live in highly dense areas with higher than average exposure to many environmental hazards and higher than average crime rates. Sound familiar?
But it wasn’t all bad news. The Survey also identified many opportunities. The region contains a committed workforce eager to embrace cleaner industry. Residents are also eager consumers of many products and services with growing tax sales in the region.
It is a region with many challenges and many opportunities and a place that, quite honestly, cries for leadership.
That’s where you come in as policymakers. This is just a start – the survey doesn’t drill far enough into many areas – but it does provide an important starting point for local policymakers to work in concert to address those many challenges and take advantage of those opportunities.
Writer Nadine Ono provides our first installment.