A new organization has just joined the political landscape in Chico.
Stand up for Chico, a local political action committee, announced its presence today (July 23) with a blunt opening on its website: “The City of Chico is a beautiful place. It deserves better than fear-mongering and divisiveness.”
As part of the launch, Stand up for Chico (SUFC) partnered with video activists of Respectful Revolution to produce a short that features interviews with people enjoying a day in Bidwell Park this past Fourth of July and an introduction by the PAC’s president, local homeless advocate Angela McLaughlin, saying: “In the coming months we plan to focus on what’s going right in the community, to look for the positives, and to also work together to find constructive solutions for the areas where we need improvement.”
In a recent interview, McLaughlin shared that the main impetus for the starting the PAC is to counter what her group sees as an ongoing “ugly narrative” on social media by the political action committee Citizens for a Safe Chico (CFSC), whose logo SUFC seems to parody. The images of garbage in parks, homeless camps and discarded hypodermic needles that CFSC posts online present a one-sided image of the city, McLaughlin said.
“Of course, there are all of these things in the community, right? We all understand that Chico has some issues and that we could do better work on them,” McLaughlin told the CN&R. “But where I think that there is a disconnect is thousands of us go about our business in Chico every day. We go downtown, we go to the parks, we go for a walk, and we’re not assaulted, we don’t encounter needles, we don’t encounter garbage, nobody is aggressive with us.
“When somebody posts a picture of the park and says, ‘I had a great walk,’ it doesn’t get circulated. That’s unremarkable, right? So, I think that there’s a disconnect that people see these pictures and then they get circulated and everybody’s like, ‘Oh, my god, this is outrageous!’ … when the reality is, for most of us, we have concerns of course, but that doesn’t reflect our experiences.”
Out of the gate, SUFC isn’t endorsing any candidates for local offices. The immediate goals are to reframe Chico’s image—starting with the introductory video as well as a social-media campaign that will encourage locals to share images and stories to the committee’s Facebook and Instagram pages of their “great” experiences living in Chico—and to begin working on solutions for immediate issues.
“We want to focus on building coalitions, working on solutions for problems that we can solve,” McLaughlin explained. “Legal camping is a big one … and downtown, issues with the plaza and making sure that downtown is a place where we all want to be.”