CIRS Blog about Rural California

Coachella, California

CIRS is a public interest research non-profit with offices in the SF Bay Area. CIRS is seeking a Community Research Outreach Specialist. We are currently seeking to hire a staff member to work on a three year project, starting January 2018. The positing starts at 80% FTE but with increased funding could become full time.

The Project

The integrated campaign we will initiate involves a collaborative effort driven by residents of communities in the Eastern Coachella Valley to address issues of environmental injustice. Our goal is to inform residents and policy makers, to implement mitigation strategies and spur investment. The policy changes we advocate for will result in a systemic change in the region and the changes in practice we encourage will impact community norms. We expect to improve community health as a result of the goals we set forth.

The project will contribute to the following:

  • Develop youth leadership through citizen science projects designed to render power through knowledge and mitigate on the ground risks. (air quality monitoring and community greening)
  • Build the power of residents to influence decisions that affect them by working with them to develop data-based tools to
  • Enhance the effectiveness and leverage partnerships by working with a diverse group of partners both within and outside the Coachella Valley.
  • Raise the visibility of community health issues impacting the residents living near the impact area of the Salton Sea by supporting their ability to lead discussions, hold space and power in meetings and tell their stories at a regional, county and state-wide level.

The Job

  • The role requires driving throughout several communities engaged as this position is field based only
  • The position entails working in various community settings
  • English-Spanish bilingual, native Spanish speaker preferred
  • Must possess strong interpersonal skills and be culturally competent with the ability to adapt to different populations
  • Must be able to work in a multi-organizational collaboration
  • Must be able to facilitate meetings where scientific data are explained to community members
  • Track and follow-up with past and present potential community partners
  • Maintain community engagement
  • Requires an individual who is a self-starter, disciplined with his/her time
  • Ability to work with little supervision
  • Candidate will ideally possess some community outreach/organizing experience

Education:

  • Bachelor's Degree required/Master’s Degree a plus
  • Emphasis in Sociology. Geography, Environmental Studies or Community Development preferred but not required

Skills:

  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Community outreach/organizing
  • Ability to communicate clearly on multiple levels
  • Understanding of environmental justice issues
  • Excellent organizational skills
  • Must have excellent time management skills
  • Self-starter yet team oriented-outcomes
  • Knowledgeable in rural issues
  • Effective presenter
  • Effective in developing rapport and relationships in the community
  • Receptive and efficient in executing tasks designated by the Executive Director

We offer a competitive compensation and benefits package, including vacation, healthcare subsidy, sick leave and compensatory time off. Rent on home office can be negotiated. All benefits will be prorated to % FTE if not full time.

CIRS is an equal employment opportunity (EEO) to all persons regardless of age, color, national origin, citizenship status, physical or mental disability, race, religion, creed, gender, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, genetic information, marital status, status with regard to public assistance, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state or local law.

To apply and for details on compensation contact Gail Wadsworth gwadsworth@cirsinc.org

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The California State Supreme Court Nov. 27 ruled against Gerawan Farming’s attempts to dismantle the state’s process for settling employment contract disputes.

 

Gerawan, one of the largest tree fruit farmers in the nation and based in Fresno County, has been locked in a battle with the United Farm Workers for four years over a union agreement with its workers.

 

The dispute has lead to numerous lawsuits, a failed attempt to kick the union out and several findings of unfair labor practices by the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board.

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County agricultural commissioners released reports of 2016 revenue in summer 2017. Kern County led the state in farm sales, with $7.2 billion worth of commodities sold, led by grapes, almonds, citrus, pistachios and milk.

Monterey County farm sales fell from $4.7 billion to $4.3 billion, largely because of lower vegetable sales of $2.8 billion in 2016. Leaf ($785 million) and head ($480 million) lettuce was the major crop in Monterey, followed by strawberries, $725 million, and broccoli, $390 million.

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By Paulina Rojas

COACHELLA, Calif. — On a warm summer night the sound of shoes clacking on the floor radiated from the clubhouse at Las Palmeras Estates, a group of low-income housing units in Coachella. The sound was not coming from children running around relaxing during their summer break. This was the sound of young people from the group Sol Del Desierto practicing ballet folklorico.

Ballet folklorico are dances from Latin America that fuse local folk culture with ballet.

Parents looked on as their children perfected their choreography one step at a time. Glimmers of sweat slowly appearing on their faces. Although they were getting tired, they had many reasons to keep pushing.

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By Paulina Rojas

Editor’s note: Alma Ochoa is a Purépecha musician based out of the Eastern Coachella Valley. The Purépecha are a group of indigenous people originally from the state of Michoacan in Mexico. Their presence in the Eastern Coachella Valley dates back to around the 1970s, when few Purépecha spoke Spanish. Over the years the community struggled with both linguistic and cultural isolation. Ochoa, who sings in her native language, is one of only a few female Purépecha singers. She recently performed at The Hue Festival in Mecca, Calif. Coachella Uninc. program associate and reporter, Paulina Rojas sat down with Ochoa to find out how she helps preserve Purépecha culture. 

Q: How long have you been producing Purépecha music? 

A: About three or four years ago, I got inspired to start recording my own music. About two years ago, I recorded my first music video and a few months ago I released it on YouTube.

Q: What was the initial feedback like?

A: I wasn’t expecting so many people to like it. I was surprised, but I am happy that so many people are enjoying it.

Q: What inspired you sing in Purépecha instead of Spanish or English?

A: Most of the people that sing pirekuas (traditional music from Michoacan) are men and I wanted to change that … so that women might feel encouraged to make this music as well. With my music I hope to inspire young women to start doing the same. I also want preserve my culture in some way. Little by little we are losing parts of it due to the fact that it is being mixed with Spanish. I want to keep our culture alive so future generations can have the knowledge of what Purépecha culture is.

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