ANTIOCH -- Many critical issues face East Contra Costa residents on a daily basis.
Employment and low wages. Immigration and labor rights. Access to health care and education. The environment. Housing.
To that end, a one-day summit focused on addressing societal problems and finding solutions will be held Saturday at Holy Rosary Church.
"We need to start focusing and looking at these issues, and how they are impacting those that live in our community," said Angel Luevano, one of the organizers of the inaugural People's Equity Summit. "We're hoping to whet people's appetite."
Alicia Coleman-Clark, an Antioch resident who sits on a county advisory board for special education, adds: "We need to be more civic-minded and why things are the way they are. There are a lot of things going on in our own backyard and the more we know about them, we can have a better effect."
Luevano, executive director of local nonprofit Todos Unidos, said the summit will include a keynote address on changes to state education by Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-San Ramon.
Saturday's event promises to be very hands-on. Much of the day will be spent splitting attendees up into two workshops The first one will break them into groups of five to discuss problems with: growth and housing; expelling kids or putting them in special education; exclusion based on race, class and gender; and labor rights. The second workshop looks at solutions and suggestions for those issues.
"We want to see what we can do next. Maybe there are petitions or other ways to continue that notion of education," Luevano said.
Antioch Mayor Wade Harper, along with council members, police Chief Allan Cantando and Antioch Unified Superintendent Donald Gill will participate in a panel to talk about issues affecting residents.
A report will also be released Saturday titled "State of Working Contra Costa County/Antioch in 2013/Income Inequality, Poverty & Low-Wage Employment."
Though the report is embargoed, Luevano said U.S. Census data from March shows that Latinos comprise East Contra Costa's largest ethnic group.
Officials from La Clinica de la Raza in Oakley, which serves low-income residents with little or no insurance, will be at the summit to talk about health disparities, Luevano said.
"Especially with (the president's new health care law) and all that's been happening lately, I'm sure there will be a lot of conversation," he said.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.
IF YOU GO
What: People's Equity Summit, hosted by the East Bay Organizing Project
When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday; lunch provided
Where: Holy Rosary Church, 1313 A St., Antioch
Information: Call 925-813-2547 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.