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05.19.10

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Nonpolitical Power

By Morgan Carvajal


After two years of research, the North Bay Sponsoring Committee's (NBSC) first Action Assembly has been scheduled, set to address key issues facing the residents of Sonoma and Napa counties. On the dock are issues of user-friendly public transportation, the availability of mental health resources and police-community relations. On May 25, the assembly shares a collection of information and stories from community members, offering an opportunity for citizens and officials to engage in an open forum. With the hopes of building relationships with the Sonoma and Napa county officials and candidates, the NBSC recognizes that through the cooperation of citizens and officials, problems can be solved.

"We live in a lovely part of the world," says NBSC member Doris Lee, "but nothing's perfect and these are things that are really serious problems."

What started as a gathering of people from nine different churches who spent time with community members sharing their stories of living in the North Bay has turned into an organization that researches area issues. Over two years of hearing people's stories and experiences, the NBSC is ready to share their data with officials.

The NBSC is a not-for-profit aggregate of churches, synagogues and nonprofit agencies. They exercise a nonpartisan political ideology and hope to act together using a nonpolitical power. By working with elected and appointed officials and sharing stories, experiences and information, the NBSC believes it can shape public policy for the common good. This committee is a division of the national Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), a foundation committed to acting, nonpolitically, for social change. The IAF has affiliates in 21 states and a history of effectively helping to shape public policy using religious congregations, homeowner groups, labor locals, recovery groups, parents' associations and others.

"NBSC is modeling a new kind of face-to-face politics," says the Rev. Blythe Sawyer of the United Church of Christ in Petaluma. "We want to work with one another and our elected officials to build long-term relationships and put the public back in the public life of our community. We are not standing for a political party or ideology, but instead coming together on issues that matter to us in Sonoma and Napa counties."

At the Action Assembly, members invite community members and officials to craft solutions to solve local issues. The goal is to give everyday people a voice in building a stronger democratic culture in Sonoma and Napa counties. The NBSC believes that an open forum is the best way to come together and problem-solve.

"Citizens can cooperate and problems can be solved" says Lee. "It is a democracy, after all."

Action Assembly, Tuesday, May 25, from 7pm to 9pm. Friedman Center, 4676 Mayette Ave., Santa Rosa. Free. 707.360.3021.


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