Gov. Jerry Brown, addressing a crowd of eager, young AmeriCorps members on a sun-soaked lawn in San Francisco on Friday, said the world was “really screwed up” when the Civilian Conservation Corps came into being during the Great Depression – and that it still is, just in a “very different way.”
“Things don’t work in Washington, Europe is having its problems of stagnation. We’ve got issues with Russia. In Asia they’ve got problems. I mean, there’s a lot of things you could be worried about,” Brown said. “But the point is not to worry about stuff, but to do things, and to get engaged, as you are.”
Brown, who started the California Conservation Corps when he was governor before, from 1975 to 1983, was in San Francisco to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the AmeriCorps service program.
He said “big picture” problems are “not really subject to your individual control, but where you can have an impact is right where you are and where you’re working – in a neighborhood, on a block, in a service center, in a community.”
Service, he said, “knits together the neighborhood and the community.”
Brown’s remarks were brief, and he left quickly. The AmeriCorps program was created during President Bill Clinton’s administration, and while Brown was in San Francisco, Clinton joined President Barack Obama for a celebration of the program’s anniversary in Washington.
Brown was asked if he was surprised AmeriCorps had endured for 20 years.
“No,” he said, smiling. “I knew back in ‘92 this was exactly where it was going.”
That was the year Clinton won the presidency – and also the year Brown last ran unsuccessfully for president.
Brown said, “Well, this was one of the good things to happen.”