Drew Nate |

The State of California is launching California 100, an ambitious, statewide initiative aimed at envisioning and shaping the state for the next hundred years. 

Its goal is to identify and uplift transformative ideas, people, and projects that can help accelerate progress towards a shared vision of the future. 

The initiative will provide research awards enabling institutions across the state to evaluate the current facts, origins, and future trends for thirteen issue areas and how they can affect California in the coming century. 

The thirteen areas of focus include: Advanced technology and basic research; Arts, culture, and entertainment; Education; economic mobility, inequality, and workforce; Energy, environment, and natural resources; Federalism and foreign policy; Fiscal reform; Governance, media, and civil society; Health and wellness; Housing and community development; Immigrant integration; Public safety and criminal justice reform; and Transportation and urban planning.

The state has selected 26 commissioners to work as a task force to move the California100 initiative forward.  

California 100 Commissioner, Damon Packwood

Damon Packwood, who serves as the initiative’s commissioner for the arts, culture, and entertainment section, is also co-founder and executive director of Gameheads, an Oakland tech training program that teaches game development to low-income students of color.

California 100 Commissioner Damon Packwood serves as the initiative’s commissioner for the arts, culture, and entertainment section. He is co-founder and executive director of Gameheads, a tech training program based in Oakland that teaches game development to low-income students of color. (source: ebtoday.com)

Packwood spoke recently with the Black Voice News and IE Voice to give insight on what Californians can expect from this initiative. 

A San Francisco native, Packwood started his career in video game journalism. A gamer himself and someone heavily invested in the film industry, he noticed that the leading consumers of video games were Blacks, but they only make up a tiny fraction of people working in the gaming industry. This lack of diversity led to his creation of Gameheads. 

With more than 18 years experience in the field of youth development and education and having held positions at Juma Ventures, Hack the Hood, and Upward Bound, Packwood also has experience in  several multimedia and tech industries including radio, mobile, video game journalism and the film industry. Packwood is also a former Stanford University Entrepreneur in Residence and a Facebook Gaming/VGA Global Gaming Citizen. 

During the interview Packwood shared he has always been interested in solving real problems along with a desire to change things permanently. This, he explained, is what led to the creation of Gameheads. 

Packwood defines the California 100 Commission as a “collection of industry experts that are trying to put together a plan in thirteen different subject areas, that we hope to present to the State of California and to the people in California.”

California’s place in the global economy

The California economy is the largest in the United States and if the state were its own sovereign nation it would rank as the fifth largest economy in the world, ahead of India and behind Germany. As Packwood mentioned this, he stated, “If we want to continue to compete with other countries, we have to start thinking more innovatively.”

As the California 100 Commission discusses what transformative change will look like in the state over the next century, one thing Packwood emphasized was the role of technology.

“If we’re going to come up with all these solutions to all these real-world problems, we have to start thinking about the degree at which people are going into virtual spaces.”

He continued, “We have to start embracing stuff like the metaverse, the omniverse and virtual spaces.” He went on to say that “people still think that stuff is like scientific fiction, but that stuff is here.” he stressed.

One thing Packwood specifically wants to focus on in his role as a commissioner, is to help young people better understand these virtual spaces. 

More about the commission

The California 100 Commission has a collection of leaders who reflect diversity by region and industry and who bring their various perspectives from communities that have been historically marginalized or excluded.  Many of these commissioners will be next generation leaders, providing opportunities for intergenerational learning and mentoring. 

The Commission will help advance a vision and strategy for the next century by providing strategic feedback and hosting listening sessions across the state.

As reported by DiversityInc, a recent study shows California is the most diverse state in the nation in relation to six key factors including socioeconomic diversity, cultural diversity, economic diversity, household diversity, religious diversity and political diversity. (source: facebook.com)

The publication DiversityInc reports after reviewing all 50 U.S. states in relation to six key factors including socioeconomic diversity, cultural diversity, economic diversity, household diversity, religious diversity and political diversity, a recent study shows California is the most diverse state in the nation. 

Comments from Commissioner Michael Tubbs

Michael Tubbs is Special Advisor to Governor Gavin Newsom for Economic Mobility, and founder of Mayors for a Guaranteed Income. He was also Stockton’s first African American mayor, and the youngest mayor of any major city in American history.

Michael Tubbs is a Special Advisor to Governor Gavin Newsom for Economic Mobility. He is also Founder of Mayors for a Guaranteed Income. The former mayor of Stockton, he was not only the city’s first African American Mayor, but also the youngest mayor of any major city in American history. (source: berkeley.edu)

Tubbs is also another of the high-profile individuals selected to serve as a commissioner for the California 100 spoke on the importance of California 100 in a statement he gave to the IE Voice and Black Voice News

California 100 is emerging at a critical time in our state’s history,” he began.  The COVID-19 pandemic has scrambled our state and nation that are already undergoing significant changes in their economy, policy, and society. We can no longer settle for short-term thinking or solutions to the pressing problems we face and their long-term consequences.”

Tubbs continued, “We know that climate change is at our doorstep, that misinformation threatens our civic and public health, and that staggering inequities in income and wealth, homeownership, and health, threaten our state’s reputation and opportunities for upward mobility for too many. These are the important conversations California 100 will tackle — both to understand the challenges that got us to where we are today, but also to seize on opportunities to change the course of our long-term future in a way that centers diverse voices and experiences.”

Click here to learn more about the California 100 Initiative and how you can get involved.

Drew Nate

Drew Nate, a resident of Corona, California, reports for Black Voice News and the IE Voice where he focuses on stories within the Inland Empire and throughout California. An advocate for equity and social...