The SFBC's planned evolution has sparked great questions by our members about the nature and evolution of the SFBC. Will the development of a 501c4 that permits more lobbying and political endorsements make us too political or could it lead us away from our grassroots ideals? Let's take each question separately.
Being a c4 gives us the latitude to make political endorsements, but it doesn't mean we're going to rush to do that. Politicians honor loyalty more than ideals and will support us if we support them, and oppose us if we don't. As an organization of ideals, endorsements become a risky proposition. However, a large and involved membership equates to a great deal of votes, volunteers, and, therefore, political power. Having an educated and supportive population is more important than having the "right" person in office, but a supportive politician is helpful, and we'll be able to generate them better as a c4.
The question of our grassroots nature is a separate one entirely from our political category. We know that our power comes as much from an activated membership as a big membership, and we know we have to preserve that. The grassroots nature of our group is reflected in our support for member-initiated projects, in our election of the board of directors, in our dedication to and emphasis on leadership from the bottom up. It's common for organizations to grow out of their grassroots beginnings. A bigger staff with more capability often naturally ends up doing more of the work. We staff people see the potential for that and view it as a threat to the strength of the SFBC. We are working to preserve our grassroots style: our recent activist training educated another 30 grassroots leaders; we are supporting several new grassroots committees, including a SOMA committee and a teachers' campaign; we are revitalizing the Wiggle committee; and we will soon start bicyclists' caucuses in several of the city's new electoral districts. In this manner, our change to a 501c4 strengthens the grassroots nature of the SFBC.
If you want to get involved in a grassroots campaign, call us at the office and pitch your idea. Of course, not everyone can be an activist and we welcome the contributions of members who just send us their moral support in the form of a check! However you want to get involved, please do it. Our grand visions for this city need all of us.