Opinion: The Importance of Representation

What the Rise Together coalition can teach us—and other communities, too

The Rise Together coalition began as a way to bring representation to local philanthropy, but it’s become a movement in itself. PHOTO: INSPIRA STUDIOS

Editor's Note

Steve Palopoli Profile Photo

This week’s cover story by Liza Monroy demonstrates that you can’t contain a great idea. I think it’s both remarkable and yet somehow not at all surprising that the Rise Together group originally came together to handle a very specific task for the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County—helping decide how $350,000 in funding would be distributed—and ended up creating a set of goals like “Change policies, structures, and systems at the root level with people of color-led solutions, representation, and power to increase equity and anti-racist policy.” I mean, that is high-level stuff to jump to from “where should this money go?” But again, it’s not surprising when you look at who is actually part of this group. They’re many of the most influential community leaders in Santa Cruz County—you probably recognized a lot of their faces on the cover. When you put that kind of experience and smarts and vision in one room, things are going to happen that you couldn’t have foreseen.

Another thing I really enjoy about Monroy’s piece is reading about how the Rise Together members re-examined every part of their process. They brought change not only to the outcome, but also to the system that produces the outcome. Next time you hear someone cynically suggest that inclusion and racial representation are just abstract ideas or numbers games, I’d suggest sending them this article.


Letters to the Editor



Re: Meisenheimer

I wonder if the Judge, DA’s office and SCPD would have allowed an abusive woman out of jail, if she had repeatedly beaten/stalked her police officer boyfriend while also repeatedly ignoring restraining orders? This was an avoidable murder. As a Commissioner on CPVAW we need community support to help us hold the powers that be accountable, else tragedies like this will keep happening again and again.

  Ann Simonton


This is shameful on the part of our judicial system. They failed Meisenheimer miserably. Their life is gone because he was let go free. This is beyond infuriating, and completely outrageous.

Rachel “Elias” Meisenheimer lost their precious life thru an avoidable situation. Shame on those that allowed this to happen.

— Clara


Re: Sales Tax

The minority council have really revealed themselves in this vote, their support of selling city land to a luxury hotel developer instead of give it to a nonprofit affordable housing developer (like New Way Homes), and their absolute commitment to passing an unconstitutional ban of folks living in tents and RVs. This is perhaps the most immoral and destructive Santa Cruz city council in history.

— Reggie Meisler

Read the latest letters to the editor here.

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