California Institute for Rural Studies

Eastern Coachella Valley Data Project

Eastern coachella valley data project


With support from the California Endowment through the Building Healthy Communities (BHC) Initiative, the California Institute for Rural Studies began collaborating with public health partners in the Eastern Coachella Valley (ECV) in 2011. CIRS was invited to form part of the Neighborhood Action Team, which worked alongside community members and community partners to inform county officials of infrastructure and development needs as well as ongoing environmental justice issues affecting the ECV. Our initial work within the ECV focused on environmental hazards that affect farmworker health. In collaboration with ECVBHC and UC Davis Center for Regional Change, a two year health study produced the report, “Revealing the Invisible Coachella Valley” (2013). Since this landmark report, CIRS has continued to build lasting relationships with community partners in ECV unincorporated communities. 

This work included tracking and monitoring air quality, water quality, recording home conditions and existing housing types that was then compiled into data tools for the environmental justice policy campaign.


As the California Endowment’s ten year Building Healthy Communities initiative came to a close in 2020, CIRS was fortunate to continue collaborating on existing environmental issues with community-led organizations, such as Alianza Coachella Valley and Pueblo Unido, as well other statewide organizations working in the ECV like Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability. This work continues to push for changes in environmental policies that continue to burden unincorporated ECV areas.

Past Projects and reports

  • Mold and Asthma: a look at co-occurence in two rural communities in California

View all past reports and research in the CIRS Research Library.

Moving Forward

Housing Justice Oral History Project

Led by researchers, Erika Ramirez Mayoral and Stephanie Serrato. CIRS’s Housing Justice Oral History Project centers community voices at the heart of housing justice work in the unincorporated areas of the Eastern Coachella Valley. This project uses oral history and testimonio as its primary methodology to support the development of an engaged community archive in partnership with the local community radio station and engaged community partners dedicated to housing justice work. This project supports long standing farmworker housing studies by engaging the narratives of communities who have navigated the dire housing and climate circumstances in rural areas. The goals of this project include: aligning community-led research projects with community needs and desires as well as supporting the existing knowledge and justice work that has been taking place in rural communities for the past three decades.

By shifting the historical lens to first person narratives, the oral histories of the communities who have worked on housing justice for disenfranchised communities, this project seeks to build power and collective ownership of community histories for community work.

Erika Ramirez-Mayoral
Eastern Coachella Valley Project Manager Erika is CIRS’ Eastern Coachella Valley Project Manager and is currently crafting tools for action from our ECV Household Health Survey. Erika is a Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Communication at UC San Diego, was raised in California border towns, Mexicali and El Centro, and grew up in Imperial and Coachella Valley on occupied, unseeded Kumeyaay and Cahuilla lands . Before coming to CIRS and UC San Diego, she organized alongside young women and parents around education equity and co-founded Raices Girls and Women of Color Network, and Las Nepantleras in Coachella, CA. Her interdisciplinary scholarship and activist work explore the use of oral history and testimonio in social justice circles and community development in rural California.
Stephanie Serrato
Eastern Coachella Valley Community-Driven Researcher Stephanie is CIRS’ Eastern Coachella Valley Community-Driven Researcher. Stephanie was born and raised in Mecca, and as a member of the community, the ECV housing project holds great importance to her. She is passionate about working alongside her community to create tools for action and social change. She currently holds a B.A. in Sociology from UCLA and a Masters of Public Health in Global Health and Maternal and Child Health from Loma Linda University. She believes her background in sociology and public health will allow her to explore the ways in which housing injustices not only affect an individual’s well-being, but also their quality of life.