A mission to change the narrative of Bakersfield is gaining momentum.
Like all great grassroots movements, it all started with a group of friends, a desire to change and a basement.
Those are the humble beginnings of Be In Bakersfield, a nonprofit organization launched earlier this year that’s already made strides in improving the quality of life in Bakersfield.
At the core are its four founding members – Austin Smith, Anna Smith, Daniel Cater and Shannon LaBare – who have experienced life in Bakersfield in a different way. Most of the team had, at one point, left Bakersfield and came back with a fresh perspective.
“We didn’t feel like that was being represented or really told as the communitywide narrative. As you meet people who are doing inspiring things or really working to redefine and enhance our community, we just thought there needed to be a platform to celebrate that and promote just the great life that is living in Bakersfield,” said Cater.
That is the essence of Be in Bakersfield.
Be In Bakersfield launched in April with a social media campaign and has since had an engaged following.
“We’re still figuring it out as we go but it took a whole year of planning to really launch it and we wanted it to be very strategic and smart,” said LaBare. “We didn’t jump into this blindly; we knew we would be up against naysayers. … We wanted to come out with what we felt in our hearts but kind of back it up with some research it. We’re just now starting to dive into that and activate that research through events and through social content.”
Be In Bakersfield not only focuses on the community internally, it also focuses on the way Bakersfield is seen externally. Anna discusses the way they launched the organization with a video highlighting what pops up on Google when searching Bakersfield.
“As an outsider, you think that Google is accurate,” she said. “It’s actually not and that’s what Be In Bakersfield’s mission is – to change that narrative online first. That’s why we launched with a social media campaign.”
The group does not want the organization to be thought of as an age-based movement but rather a movement that is based on how you think – a mentality to want to change Bakersfield and be a part of the community.
“Part of our call to people that are interested in helping with the movement is just think about what they say and how they talk about Bakersfield to other people,” Anna said. “We hope that we inspire people to maybe think about the positive and not to water down or dilute any of the negative but just to realize that if you’re going to live (here), at least be a part of the change.”
As the organization prepares to expand its team and its reach, it hope to be able to hold more events for the public to get involved.
For more information about the organization and how to get involved, visit beinbakersfield.com and its social media pages.