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2021 Letter from the President

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Hello! I’m Analise Smith-Hinkley, President of the BSCAA. 

We’ve been busy these last few months and I’m happy to finally share an update about our organization and the BSC as we head into 2022. To introduce myself, I lived in Cloyne in 2008 and Oscar Wilde in 2008-2010, and I’ve served on the BSCAA board for the eleven years since. In my paid life I’m a writer and a realtor who serves on the San Francisco Association of Realtors’ Governmental Relations Committee, so housing and communication are my every day.

The BSCAA currently has some 600 members. I’m looking forward to increasing that number, yes, but more than the number, it’s the level of engagement that I’m really invested in. We’re committed as an organization to empowering our members to bring to the table the passions they have that align with our goals and values. In order to position ourselves to be able to do that, we’ve been focusing on our internal infrastructure this past year. Without boring you tremendously, a few highlights of that include launching a brand new website, developing onboarding resources for new members, and creating a policy and procedures manual.

Getting our own ducks in a row means we can focus more on the outward facing work that makes us who we are. This past year for example, we’ve endorsed local legislation like the Northern California Land Trust’s Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act, joined the Coalition for Environmental Equity and Economics, and distributed nonpartisan information about the California recall election to educate and activate our community. It’s important to us that when people ask “why be a member of the BSCAA” that we are able to point not just to our enduring connection to the co-ops—which of course is our priority—but that beyond that too the ways we actively embody the cooperatives principles that made such a lasting impression on us and which we endeavor to carry with us still.

Relative to the BSC and our support therein, there’s been so much going on in the past year, but suffice to say that between COVID-19 and a couple key leadership transitions, they’ve had their hands full. I commend them for the grace and determination with which they have weathered circumstances that have challenged so many on a global scale. Our role as the BSCAA is to be a neutral and supportive sister organization. We are invested in the BSC’s success, and we help them by being here as a resource. This year in particular we’ve stepped up in a variety of integral ways. We donated tens of thousands of dollars in emergency financial support, to help offset vacancy and operational concerns, including $20,000 we gave to scholarship funds for students facing hardship as a result of the pandemic. We’ve tried to help maintain morale by having treats delivered to the houses (and supported a local West Oakland community market in the process), and most recently we have alumni members sitting on the student Board and committees, and serving in advisory capacities for staff hiring.

I’m looking forward to this next year in which I’m confident we’ll not only be able to continue the excellent work we’ve begun already, but to further increase our inclusivity and engagement with both the BSC and our alumni members. I’ll be quite candid in saying that I do not think we’ve always been the most approachable as a Board for our members and the students, not for lack of genuine care because we have brilliant, dedicated members, but because we’ve not always had our internal systems in place to properly allow us to connect with people the way we want to. We’re fixing that, and the thing I am both most excited by and committed to in the next year and of course beyond, is to prioritize diversity and accessibility in everything we do. We are working towards fostering an environment that encourages that, starting with our own Board. This past year we put on a long overdue homecoming panel this year about housing accessibility for people with disabilities, we’ve adopted closed captioning and optional transcripts for our virtual meetings, and we’re in the process of updating our new website and communications to be more accessible.

We have a lot of work ahead of us in many ways and avenues, but I know we’re up to it. I know I speak for the board when I say we’re also excited about all of it.

I’ll wrap up by saying as well there are so many ways for our members to get involved with our organization, and with the BSC, and I want very much to accommodate the spaces in which our organization and your interests intersect. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with questions or to chat, and if you have friends who may have drifted away from the co-ops, consider asking them sometime to re-engage. I promise they’ll not regret it.

Thank you for supporting the BSCAA and the co-ops we all love,

Analise Smith-Hinkley

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