An Opinion Piece by Carol Brown
Our community has changed dramatically in a very short time. Has anyone ever been to NOBE – the area of land that was once redlined including north Oakland, south Berkeley, and parts of Emeryville? The houses there sell for $800,000 plus and the school nearby has dramatically changed its profile in just a few years to one of the best in Oakland.
Trying to understand our neighborhood and the Bay Area, I ran across an article on Vox on the internet. At the end of last year, they reported on a study by the Brookings Institute, which said that since 2005, 90 percent of the growth in high-tech jobs -- (defined as top science, technology, engineering and math industries) in the United States happened in just 5 metro areas, two of them – San Francisco and San Jose – in the Bay Area. This resulted in wealth, high paying jobs and faster wage growth being concentrated in these areas, as well as a lot of secondary work – jobs created to help serve those workers. They do come with costs: worsening traffic, ballooning housing prices and wage growth so high that smaller firms can’t compete. So, it looks like our neighborhood consists of many people in tech jobs or people who serve people who work in tech jobs. (According to the Diocese only 22% of the population in our focus area are people over 65 years old.)
What does that mean for St. John’s? Can we find deep hungers near us that meet our deep gladness and grow our church community? What needs can we find in these new neighbors that give us good “whys?” A few thoughts about where to look for the needs and whys: in the fall of 2018 Christopher Ategeka gave an adult education program at St. John’s about the unintended consequences of technology. He actually has a non-profit dealing with this. Perhaps we should talk to him about the needs of these “new” neighbors. Can we be the neighborhood, the community for them to feel a part of? Can we mentor young adults when there is little time for anything but technology, like the ballot parties Genesis sponsored? And there are the children. How can we help households that have two hard-working adults raise their children?
One St. John’s parent I called to invite them to a cottage meeting declined very nicely, saying, “We are slammed with homeschooling and working, so are unable to join. Appreciate the outreach.” Maybe we need to talk to parents of slightly older children (secondary school) who are familiar with the situation, but not overwhelmed by it. We have a number of members as well as alumni who fit that bill. And if we want to get a sense of the needs of neighboring schools, why not talk to the parent-teacher association? Seems to me that they would know at least as much, if not more, more than the staff. Of course, as we grow our community, embracing this new group of people, I believe that we will also grow our outreach programs to the neediest outside our immediate community.
St. John's Episcopal Church, Oakland
1707 Gouldin Road
Oakland, CA 94611
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