CIRS Blog about Rural California

By Marty Graham

The 14-acre certified organic farm at the south edge of the San Pasqual Academy is surrounded by commercial farms, orange and grape trees on three sides.

It’s a rich metaphor for the academy itself, an organic local effort that’s meant to anchor its community to healthy food, one that’s grown jobs and centered the way the students live.

And it has been more than a farm. According to San Diego organic farmer Scott Murray, who helped launch the farm, it is a hands on part of what the academy tries to teach its residents, teenagers in the county foster care system who have run out of housing options and are within a few years of aging out of the system.

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July 2013


The eight-county San Joaquin Valley was the focus of a second economic summit on April 26, 2013.  The briefing book noted the "challenges" of poverty and unemployment, poor air quality, and low scores on other quality of life indicators. These factors combine with too few skilled workers to attract businesses that could help the San Joaquin Valley transform its agricultural economy to a higher-value and higher wage economy.

Average per capita income in the San Joaquin Valley was $31,500 in 2011, only 70 percent of the average $44,600 in California.  Among San Joaquin Valley adults, 30 percent did not graduate from high school and 15 percent had college degrees.  Among Hispanic San Joaquin Valley adults, 48 percent did not graduate from high school and six percent had college degrees.

The San Joaquin Valley summit dealt with the chicken-and-egg problem of stimulating the growth of high-wage jobs.  There is general agreement that the San Joaquin Valley should create more high-wage jobs, but also agreement that high-wage job growth is deterred by  insufficient skilled workers to attract investment that creates jobs that pay more than $30,000 a year.  The summit made only a passing reference to the state's high-speed rail system to be launched in the San Joaquin Valley.

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Press Conference:          June 12, 2013, 10:00am, COLLEGE OF THE DESERT (MECCA CAMPUS) 61-120 BUCHANAN STREET, MECCA CA 92254

Community Forum:         June 12, 2013, 5:30pm, College of the Desert (Mecca Campus) 

Contact:             Elizabeth Toledo, Building Healthy Communities:760-578-9605

                              Megan Beaman, Pueblo Unido CDC: 760-406-8900


The report is expected to be a tremendous asset to ongoing work toward the improvement of Eastern Coachella Valley conditions.  “The lack of consolidated and unbiased data documenting the inequities of our region has been one of the greatest challenges we face in our work for better infrastructure, water quality, housing, and environmental health.  It has been incredibly frustrating to us at times to have decision-makers and policy-makers say or imply that we are exaggerating about our community experiences, or that they need to see science before they can help.  This data will assist us greatly in demonstrating that our experiences are based in hard facts and statistics,” said Megan Beaman of Pueblo Unido CDC.

The group will present the report briefly by press conference on June 12, 2013, and the whole report and in-depth analysis will be presented at a community forum that same evening. 

Non-profit organizations contributing to the production and release of this report are:  Pueblo Unido Community Development Corporation; California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc.; Inland Congregations United for Change; and Comité Cívico del Valle.



Elizabeth R. Toledo

Building Healthy Communities (BHC) Eastern Coachella Valley

P: 760.972.4628 | C: 760.578.9605 | F: 760.674.9923

Connect with BHC:

"Like" us on Facebook: Eastern Coachella Valley Building Healthy Communities

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By Daniel Weintraub

It’s fair to say that California is the richest state in the nation. We have more millionaires than any other state, and mansions dot our coastal bluffs and inland canyons.

But California is also, arguably, the poorest state in the nation. We have more people in poverty — 6.1 million — and more children in poverty than any other state.

Even more ominously, a new measure of poverty shows that California has the highest percentage of its population living below the poverty line.

By the traditional measure, California’s poverty rate is 16.6 percent, 20th in the nation. But the new, supplemental measure released last year by the Census Bureau puts California at the top of the list with a poverty rate of 23.5 percent.

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Merced County officials lobbying Washington this week know, in theory, the secret of getting things done on Capitol Hill.

“The process takes a long time,” Dos Palos Mayor Johnny Mays said Wednesday. “We have to keep nudging, and nudging, and nudging.”

Exhibit A: The Los Banos Bypass.

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