Public Comment

Unity for the Sake of Change

By Keith Carson
Thursday January 15, 2009 - 06:31:00 PM

The New Year is forecasted to be a year of continued economic volatility, higher unemployment and business closures. Downsizing in government and businesses will increase the financial and emotional strain on individuals and families yet, together we can weather this storm. 

If we look back to the roaring ‘20s, history records that business and government were expanding rapidly, construction was taking place everywhere, employment was breaking records; all of this was helping to drive the nation’s expansion. Money was made in the stock market and then on Oct. 29, 1929, the market crashed, hundreds of banks and businesses closed, long lines formed at the unemployment office, thousands of people lost their homes. In President Roosevelt’s first two administrations after the crash our country embarked upon a massive stimulus package, fueled by hundreds of national road and construction projects. It took many, many years before the economy began to recover slowly.  

In many ways the boom and bust of the early 20th century was similar to what we are experiencing today. The expansion of the 1920s did not follow tested economic formulas, eventually leading to the stock market crash and the Great Depression; we know the current meltdown of the financial and other business sectors is a result of irresponsible fiscal practices. 

Two years ago Alameda County, began outreaching to local government, labor, community-based, educational and faith-based leaders to establish a 10-year sustainability program called Vision 2016. The initial goal was to create and amend local programs to meet the economic and demographic needs of residents as we move into the future. The economic crisis has caught many of us by surprise yet the working relationships developed by those in this coalition allow us to network and share information which will help us to weather the continuous economic and social storms that are hitting our county. Those of us in various facets of the community are leveraging our dwindling resources to assist the common constituents that we serve. Time is our enemy in our efforts to address the growing number of people in all areas of the East Bay, young and old, working class and unemployed who are today in desperate need of assistance.  

When we established Vision 2016, we realized that Washington and Sacramento could not provide the comprehensive solutions to local problems. Many of us are excited by the promise of the new Obama administration, but Barack cannot do it alone. In the weeks leading up to the inauguration I am working with a diverse coalition to host a series of events, Unity for the Sake of Change which is simply a “Call to Action.” Community-based organizations will make presentations at houses of worship around the East Bay letting people know how they can volunteer and provide essential services which will help those in need to weather the incoming storm. The culminating event will be a viewing of the inauguration on Jan. 20 at the Oakland Oracle Arena; doors will open at 7 a.m. and parking is free. Please visit our website ( for more information about the events taking place in your neighborhood. 

As Mr. Obama said many times in the campaign, “We are the ones we have been waiting for.” I look forward to seeing you at the community events and together we will weather the storm. 


Keith Carson is an Alameda County supervisor.