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California: Transformations and a path towards progress

As victors celebrate their wins in Tuesday's primaries and voters prepare for general elections in November, one of the things we've been examining at the Haas Institute is how California underwent a transformation over the past 25 years from its reputation for exclusionary, anti-immigrant and brutal mass incarceration policies to becoming more welcoming and inclusive with the more recent passing of a number of progressive laws, such as the Sanctuary State law, the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, and key criminal justice reforms. To understand how this transformation occurred watch our new 8-minute film that documents the successes of social movements in California in creating a more progressive political atmosphere, and pushing for policies that challenge dog-whistle politics, xenophobia, and structural racialization.

But the picture is not all rosy: California has also gone from being among one of the most equal states in terms of wealth, to the state with the widest income gap and highest level of poverty; and from having affordable homes, to witnessing the most severe housing equity crisis in the country. To understand the problems California still faces and how to ensure the path forward addresses these injustices, the Haas Institute's Eli Moore and Gerald Lenoir recently published this critical analysis.

Both the video and the analysis are part of the Institute's Blueprint for Belonging (B4B) project, which undertakes collaborative initiatives with movement organizations working across issues, policies, and campaigns.

Culture & Belonging 

Cover of the Spring 2018 news magazineIn the latest issue of our news magazine, our colleague Sara Grossman takes an in-depth look at how social movements and creative culture have intertwined for powerful results, where culture makers work in a space that not only reflects society, but also provides imagination for a more visionary future. The piece offers critical insights from public artists Jetsonorama, Erin Yoshi, Evan Bissell, and others into how the role of art works with policy change, movement organizing, and community healing.

Spotlight on Richmond

Our news magazine also features a look at three recent initiatives from our California Community Partnerships program in Richmond, California. The Haas Institute has been working with community leaders and organizations to create strategies that advance policies and stories of belonging in the face of persistent racial inequities and displacement. Among them are the Richmond Community-owned Development Enterprise (RCDE), the Staying Power Fellowship, and the comprehensive Housing Policy and Belonging in Richmond report. Read more about these projects here

Media and Updates

New research by Jesse Rothstein, a member of the Haas Institute's Economic Disparities cluster, is cited in a recent CityLab piece authored by urban studies theorist Richard Florida. The study cited in the article examines local job markets, social structure of families, and the quality of local schools to show how education isn’t a sole determinant of upward mobility. Read the article here, and view Rothstein's study here.
The Independent published an article last month on a new study co-authored by Diversity and Health Disparities cluster member Rachel Morello-Frosch that shows a significant drop in the rate of premature births in regions where oil and coal power plants had been shut down, which had mostly been impacting Black and Asian populations. The study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, was consistent with past research that shows links between air pollution and birth problems. Read The Independent story here, and check out the study here.

Upcoming events

Thursday, June 14: Eli Moore, Program Manager of the Haas Institute’s California Community Partnerships, will lead a workshop with the Safe Return Project's Tamisha Walker at the Allied Media Conference, June 14-18 in Detroit. The workshop is titled "Dismantling Mass Incarceration Through Participatory Action Research." Read about the conference here.

Saturday, June 16:
 The Haas Institute is co-sponsoring an event in Oakland called "Beyond Imagining: A Virtual Experience of Healing & Justice." The event it set up like a fair in a beautiful outdoor garden setting where organizers will showcase the capacity of virtual reality to deepen healing for social justice. Read more here.
See all our upcoming and past events here.

Job opportunities

The Haas Institute is looking to fill several student and staff positions. Check out the links below for job descriptions:
  • Part-time law research assistants
  • Travel and Reimbursement Administrative Assistant (student position)
  • Targeted Universalism & Strategic Philanthropy Student Researcher
  • General Administrative Assistant (student position)
  • Undergraduate Student Website Assistant
  • National Civic Engagement Coordinator
  • Housing and Social Equity Student Researcher (graduate student position)
Find all our job openings posted on this page.
Save the date!

​​The next Othering & Belonging conference will be held April 8–10, 2019 in Oakland. Visit for updates and to sign up for our conference mailing list.
Find out more about the experience of the Othering & Belonging conference in this video montage of last year's event
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