Who is the RPA?

Welcome Jon Gilgoff

The RPA is thrilled to welcome Jon Gilgoff as our Organizational Development Consultant. Jon is a veteran of progressive politics and has spent many years in youth and family services, including founding Brothers on the Rise, which works with boys of color in Oakland. Many of you know him from his political activism, including doing outreach with the Gayle McLaughlin for Lt. Governor campaign, and his work with the RPA and the Oakland Justice Coalition. Jon will be with us through the end of the year.

He will support the Steering Committee with administration, strategic planning, fundraising, and other important duties. Please feel free to come by the office in the afternoon (2450 Macdonald Avenue, Richmond) and say hello!

Peter Chau is the RPA!

Peter.pngWho is the RPA? It’s made up of volunteers with passion, progressive values, and who love Richmond. In this series, we get to know the new faces on the RPA Steering Committee. This month, we had the pleasure of speaking with Peter Chau, who also co-chairs the RPA Education Action Team.


TA: Tell us about your involvement in the RPA and in progressive causes.


PC: I campaigned for Ben Choi and Melvin Willis in the last election and worked with the RPA on the half-cent sales tax in 2011. I am currently a member of the RPA Education Action Team.


I am passionate about public education. I have particular knowledge and experience with the West Contra Costa Unified School District, including13 years of volunteer experiences launching new programs like the Mock Trial program; running multiple bond and parcel tax campaigns; serving on bond and budget oversight committees; and running for the school board in 2014.


TA: What are your ideas about how change and progress occur?


PC: Change and progress occur when a group of like minded individuals rally behind a comprehensive, cohesive vision.  In Richmond, that meant creating an independent progressive organization and executing campaign strategies to get progressive councils members elected.


TA: What would you like the RPA to accomplish?  What is your vision of where the RPA is headed?


PC: I would like the RPA to become more active in public education causes in Richmond. Public education is one of the last frontiers that Wall Street and billionaire bullies are trying to privatize. I believe that until we focus on improving our public schools, we will not be able to stop privatization efforts, nor improve the City of Richmond. Let's work together to improve our neighborhood schools!

Maximo Rivera Presente!

Rivera.jpg

Our beloved compañero, Maximo Rivera, passed away on August 16. He lived in North Richmond and was an active member of RPA and ACCE for many years, advocating on housing, environmental justice and immigration issues. He brought to our events and actions his soft spoken and kind, yet persistent demeanor. He lifted our spirits with his humor and the music of his band.

In 2015, Maximo and I were both members of a delegation to his home country of El Salvador, organized by School of the Americas Watch. We visited grassroots organizations and officials who are working to build a just society in El Salvador, following the brutal war against the people there a few decades ago that was backed by the U.S. military, and in the ongoing context of harmful neoliberal policies the U.S. is pushing throughout Latin America. 

Our group was moved to witness Maximo’s emotional response to visiting his home town of Cinquera in Cabañas province -- now recovering from the destruction of the war -- for the first time since his childhood. He shared memories of sitting behind his father on a horse before roads or cars arrived. His family left Cinquera in 1953 when he was 10 after his uncle was killed by the National Guard because someone said he was a communist. Maximo was inspired to meet and interact with young Salvadorans who honor the martyrs of the past and are striving for a peaceful and socially just future.

Maximo’s son, José, is also a longtime RPA activist and musician who coordinated Richmond’s Municipal ID program. He expressed that the family is urgently requesting assistance to cover funeral expenses. Donations can be made online; anything helps and will be greatly appreciated.

Maximo Rivera was part of Richmond’s progressive transformation and he will be sorely missed.

Ada Recinos is the RPA!

Ada1.jpgWho is the RPA? It’s made up of volunteers with passion, progressive values, and who love Richmond. In this series, we get to know the new faces on the RPA Steering Committee. This month, we had the pleasure of speaking with Ada Recinos. In her day job, she is the Advancement Manager for Prospera, which partners with low-income Latina women so they can achieve economic prosperity through cooperative business ownership.


TA: Tell us about your background in progressive activism.


AR: I am a commissioner on the Human Rights and Human Relations commission. I have about 4 years of experience organizing and campaigning for progressive community issues in Oakland and my hometown of Torrance regarding rent control, immigrant reform, women's rights and have supported local campaigns.


TA: What are your ideas about how change and progress occur?


AR: Change and progress occurs through education. Folks need to educate themselves on how to make progressive values accessible and in turn use education to support folks to claim progressive identities. In my experience, movements are by the people and for the people. Folks are accepted at every level of 'wokeness' with an understanding that compromise is not defeat if we keep pushing forward. I do not expect folks I approach to accept what I am teaching and sharing the first time. I anticipate hard discussions and disagreements. Change and progress occurs after gaining the trust of folks who then become ambassadors for the movement. When people become educate about the issue and feel included in the movement, it becomes theirs and a deep part of their identity.


TA: What are you interested in bringing to the RPA?


AR: I am interested in bringing a challenging perspective, a commitment to bring more diversity in Richmond's leadership and passion for issues that affect folks of color. I also hope to bring a voice and support to Richmond during a Trump presidency.


TA: What are some of the issues you’re most passionate about in Richmond?


AR: I am particularly interested in supporting the enforcement of measure L, and to keep the police and sheriffs accountable to not cooperating with ICE. I hope the RPA is headed towards making Richmond residents more proactive about their rights and introducing legislation that is proactive about residents needs.

The RPA Featured in The Nation

Check out a new article from The Nation, “These Cities Are Putting Our Fractious Federal Government to Shame,” with a great section about the RPA:

THINKING LOCALLY, ACTING STATEWIDE
 
Gayle McLaughlin led something of a revolution in the small, Bay Area city of Richmond, California. First elected to the mayor’s office there in 2006, McLaughlin and her leftist political organization the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) transformed the city from a de facto company town dominated by the local Chevron refinery into a leading example of the power of progressive municipal politics. Over the last decade, the RPA defeated Chevron-backed candidates at the ballot box, implemented a $15 dollar minimum wage, fought foreclosures during the financial crisis, and, most recently, in 2016, passed the first rent-control law in California in years, among other achievements. The story of this grassroots political movement is one of the gems of the progressive urban renaissance.
 
Now McLaughlin wants to take RPA’s model and message statewide by becoming California’s next lieutenant governor. On July 18, she stepped down from her seat on the Richmond City Council and embarked on a multi-week tour of Southern California, visiting local progressive groups and rallying them behind her. Unaffiliated with any political party and vociferously supportive of single-payer health care, sanctuary-city policies, and free public college, among other issues, McLaughlin’s campaign hopes to draw on the Sanders-inspired enthusiasm for social democracy that has electrified leftists across the country. The election will take place in 2018.
 
“This campaign will give me a larger stage and a louder megaphone to get out the message about building local political power,” says McLaughlin. “That is the core message of my campaign: Build local political power in your cities and communities, like the RPA did in Richmond. If we could do it there, if we could get Chevron off our back, we can do it anywhere.”

Read the whole article here.

Kabir Kapur is the RPA!

Who is the RPA? It’s made up of volunteers with passion, progressive values, and who love Richmond. In this series, we get to know the new faces on the RPA Steering Committee. This month, we had the pleasure of speaking with Kabir Kapur, who came to the RPA after volunteering with the Bernie Sanders campaign.

Kabir.pngTA: Please tell us about your involvement progressive politics.

KK: I was involved with Occupy UC Davis in November of 2011, when the infamous Pepper Spraying incident occurred. The following quarter I was elected to the ASUCD Senate, the student government at UC Davis, running on a platform to “Empower Student Advocacy” by increasing student involved in lobbying on higher education issues in the Capitol in Sacramento and in administrative decisions made on campus.

I then interned for Assemblymember Roger Dickinson in the California State Assembly. I was also involved in the initial organization of both the UC Davis for Bernie Sanders and Davis for Bernie Sanders groups, and traveled to Iowa for a couple weeks to volunteer for the Sanders campaign. Currently I am involved with organizing the Richmond chapter of Our Revolution.

TA: What are your ideas about how change and progress occur? 

KK: I believe that change and progress occur through coalition building and working with people that you may not agree on every political issue on but are willing to find common ground to accomplish a collective mission.

I agree with Bernie Sanders when he says “Change takes place because people struggle” and “​Change never takes place from the top down. It always takes place from the bottom up.” I also believe progress takes place we people are honest and genuine with each other, and are transparent about public affairs. 

TA: What are you interested in bringing to the RPA?

KK: I am interested in bringing a millennial perspective to the Richmond Progressive Alliance. I believe the future of our society and species depends on the actions of my generation, and that we must act swiftly and steadfastly to save the future of both our planet and species and evolve into a democratic socialist and humanist society.

Brenda Williams is the RPA!

Brenda.pngWho is the RPA? It’s made up of volunteers with passion, progressive values, and who love Richmond. In this new series, we get to know new faces on the RPA Steering Committee. We begin with Brenda Williams, a newly-elected Steering Committee member who is the organizational representative for Richmond Rainbow Pride. Her recent film Beyond Hate explored themes of free speech, including Chevron’s involvement in Richmond’s 2014 elections and the experiences of Councilmember Jovanka Beckles as she faced homophobia and racism.

TA: What are your ideas about how change and progress occur?

BW: Fortunately, there is no one way to create change and progress.  But with certainty action is required.  Ted Kennedy said once that he just kept showing up. Eventually, people would say, “What about that guy over there? Let him do this. He's always around.”  So he kept showing up and doing what he could... I learned the same lesson from my dad. It's great to dream big, but somebody has to be willing to show up and actually do the work.

When there is work being done simultaneously all over and you string all of that work together, you have the potential for a major shift and that shift is the change. The small changes are fantastic because they allow people to see the possibilities of what can be. But it is with concerted effort and action that the big shifts occur. Inspiration allows people to step out of their comfort zone and ensure more change. For myself, I want to be part of what inspires people to work towards changing what we know needs to be changed and creating what we want in its place.

TA: How does the RPA fit in?

BW: My idea is essentially when you find someone or a group who gets it right; join them to make it happen.  And if no one is making happen what you know needs to be happening, be the catalyst to get it started.  I think RPA gets it right, so joining their efforts makes sense.

TA: As  filmmaker, you particularly believe in dialogue as an avenue for change

BW: Talking out loud creates an atmosphere for change. It's a great way to stimulate people and bring about better and stronger discussions and ideas. Closed doors are more frightening because of the lack of transparency. So I love the idea of town hall style meetings and open dialogues but I also believe in capturing those dialogues so action items can be uncovered and initiated.

A great example of continuously being open to discussions with all types of people is that this year I received an editorial grant for my recent film “Against Hate.”  I selected a filmmaker who in reviewing the footage got a chance to look closely at Richmond politics and engage in dialog with me about the salient points made in the film. She saw the grace and poise Jovanka displayed, but also we talked candidly about the success of RPA and how groups like this have to exist all over the country so we can locally affect the outcome of our future and our politics; we all have to be involved.  I received an email today from the filmmaker -- who already was a social justice activist -- and she is running for an Assembly District seat and we inspired her to do this!  That’s change. And to survive the next four years, we need this change over and over happening all across America.