No matter how much I’ve accomplished in the past, I always seem to forget what I’ve done, and what I’m capable of. Maybe it’s because I’m always looking to the next thing, which can be good and bad. But last week I received an email from a colleague, which listed what he was able to do last year and it made me reflect on what I did in 2018.
For those of you that don’t know the story, in September of 2017, I started an advocacy group (on Facebook) in my neighborhood called Land Park Society. This idea came about one day when I was so angry and frustrated about what my community—one of the safest in Sacramento for decades—had become: infested with serial theft, burglary and drugs almost all stemming from the decriminalization of the justice system in California (Prop. 47, Prop. 57, AB 109, etc.). After seeing yet another post on Next Door of how a string of cars were broken into and more packages were stolen, only to have people post ludicrous statements such as “that person probably needed it more than you did,” I decided to create my own thing.
So within five minutes, I made a Facebook group, came up with a name and added some friends in my neighborhood. When one asked me, “What is this group?” I said, “I don’t know, but I’m going to figure it out.” Which I did, and in some ways, am still doing. I quickly came up with a strategy to put pressure on city officials who had been ignoring emails and phone calls from residents and business owners and asked everyone in the group to do the same. In less than two weeks, I had interviews with every local news outlet in the city. In less than three weeks, I had almost 1,000 members to my group—all from different social, racial and political backgrounds—with the same mission: getting our neighborhood back. And within one month, I was on a national radio show.
To date, here are a few of our accomplishments:
— When our City Councilman, Steve Hansen, chose to criticize us in the press, before knowing anything about us or what we were doing, I went directly to law enforcement for help. I was welcomed with open arms and a tremendous amount of support, including a dedicated time period for undercover work to address the drug activity, which resulted in search warrants and arrests (we lost our Narcotics team 10 years ago to “budget” issues).
— Because of how much crime my group documents via photos and video, Sacramento Police gave us dedicated patrols on the main corridors.
— We have worked with large and small businesses to increase security and make changes to their property to deter criminal behavior.
— We had a pay phone removed from a gas station that was attracting drug use and dealing.
— We speak monthly at City Council to bring attention to issues which affect our community.
— I was introduced to the Sacramento County District Attorney who invited me to do a radio show with her, where she called me “the voice of California.” She then hired me to work on her re-election campaign, where I got to discover what a fantastic human being she is and become her friend.
— We held petition signings for The Keep California Safe Ballot Measure to undo some of the damage from the props I mentioned above.
— We make an average of 10-20 reports to the city and law enforcement a day.
— We have raised thousands of dollars for charities such as The Mustard Seed School (in the Sacramento Police Department’s honor for all of their help).
— We helped a long-time heroin addict get off the street (who was ready to change) and financially supported him through his recovery (rehab, medical, housing) when our city’s 100 million-dollar program completely failed him (he’s still clean eight months later).
This is no way has been easy. In fact, I’ve been publicly harassed and lied about by fringe groups and the media, and there are many days where it feels like one step forward and one hundred steps back. And because there is so much to do, I often forget how far we’ve come and how NONE of this existed 18 months ago.
I had an idea on what needed to be done, not exactly knowing how it would get done. But I didn’t let that stop me, and I haven’t let the criticism stop me either. Because every night I go to bed knowing I am doing what is RIGHT over what is EASY. I may not have it all figured out, but I’m proof you don’t have to.