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The New Silicon Valley Movement That Is Taking on the Tech Giants

Posted by New Leaders Council 4 Admin on March 12, 2015 at 12:58 PM

Originally published on The Nation on March 10, 2015 by Gabriel Thompson. 

On a warm afternoon in late February, 200 people filed into the social hall of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, set back from a busy street on San Jose’s eastside. The large crowd was excited and boisterous—the event has been months in the making—with people calling out loud greetings to each other in Spanish and English. During a quiet moment, Chava Bustamante stepped up to the podium. A longtime union organizer, he now runs a group called LUNA—Latinos United for a New America—whose logo was emblazoned across his bright yellow shirt. “Make a mental note of today,” he told the group. “When we look back, we’re going to say, ‘I was part of this historic moment.’”

The moment he was referring to was the launch of Silicon Valley Rising. Born in the heart of a booming tech empire, this broad coalition of labor, community and faith groups hopes to use that boom to benefit, instead of displace, the working poor. Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino is just a dozen miles away. Facebook is further down the highway, in Menlo Park. But those tech companies are only one side of the valley, with their sleek gadgets and social networks and, above all, enormous wealth. This modest social hall, with its cracked ceiling tiles and twice-a-week food service to the hungry, was a reminder that out here, in the center of all that is new and shiny, the age-old problem of poverty persists.

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