15 Years of Taking on the Hard Stuff

Van Jones and other panelists at a A 2006 Ella Baker Center Solutions Salon

A 2006 Ella Baker Center Solutions Salon

This blog is part of our series celebrating the 15th Anniversary of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. You can celebrate with us at the 2011 Ellas: 15 Years of People-Powered Change, or submit your own anniversary memory or wish to ellasvoice@ellabakercenter.org. In 2006, I was a junior at San Francisco State University majoring in Urban Studies and took a class on grassroots organizing. Part of the class included choosing an organization to volunteer with. I chose the Ella Baker Center because they were championing solutions for the things I cared most about- people and planet. After months of envelope stuffing, phone banking and data entry with Books Not Bars, Silence the Violence and Reclaim the Future, I had the chance to interview one of the Ella Baker Center co founders, Van Jones. In the interview, I asked Van how the Ella Baker Center chooses what campaigns to take on. He said, 'If it's easy, let someone else do it. We take on the hard stuff." As the Ella Baker Center celebrates our 15 year anniversary, 5 years after this interview took place, I am reminded that although our campaigns have changed, our dedication to taking on the challenges that seem impossible, continues. From the work of transforming the juvenile justice system of Books Not Bars to the training of Oakland youth to be leaders in Heal the Streets, from the placing of Oakland's well being in the hands of residents by Soul of the City to the building of a thriving green economy by the Green-Collar Jobs Campaign, the Ella Baker Center is still fighting the hard fights and, on our 15 year anniversary, winning. Happy Anniversary Ella Baker Center!