We are heartbroken by the devastation experienced by our neighbors in Butte County and Southern California last month. These disasters remind us of life’s fragility and what feels like our increasing vulnerability to a rapidly changing environment. But the responses to the fires also demonstrate why community is so important. We’ve seen incredible acts of generosity, courage, and love over the past few weeks- apt reminders that when engaged, communities yield tremendous power in the lives of individuals and families.
The power of community extends far beyond a specific disaster or crisis; communities connect people in intimate and profound ways, changing and even saving lives. But strong communities don’t exist without engaged individuals. At ZFF we know that people who are civically engaged are more likely to connect with their neighbors and participate in the decision-making that impacts them and their families as well as their communities. Civic engagement is critical to the development of sound policies, public systems, and ultimately a strong and thriving democracy.
Last month we saw historic levels of civic and voter engagement throughout the Bay Area and the state- especially among immigrants and communities of color. California saw the largest voter turn-out in ten years, and Latino voter turn-out was up 174% nationally compared to 2014. We are inspired by the work of our partners who seek to educate and engage individuals and communities, so they have a voice in the systems and policies that affect them.
After what feels like a whirlwind of a fall, we are mindful that it is easy to get lost in the challenges of our work, the daily and sometimes hourly news cycle, and our own grind of deadlines and deliverables. When we do that, we lose perspective, missing opportunities to celebrate the strides that we’ve made together. We’re so proud to work in partnership with you, through the good times and bad, for stronger families and communities.
We wish you all a peaceful holiday season and a happy new year!