March: First Rural California Summit a Success + More

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 In this Newsletter  

First Rural California Summit a Success

Focus on CIRS Partners: Dr. Mario Sifuentez

Rural California Blog

National Farmworker Awareness Week

California Institute for Rural Studies (CIRS) is the only California non-profit with a mission to conduct public interest research that strengthens social justice and increases the sustainability of California's rural communities. 

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First Rural California Summit a Success

 Flyer w crowd Erica

With nearly 100 people in attendance, our first Rural Summit for Action, “Working for Justice in the Valley: People, Food, Land & Water,” was a success! We appreciate all of our co-organizers, speakers, attendees, and sponsors – it was truly a group effort. The collective experience and wisdom in the room was palpable. Because of the solid turnout and the positive responses of attendees, we are already planning for our next summit for action, which will become an annual event at UC Merced. A wonderful diversity of voices were heard: multi-generational, multi-regional, multi-cultural. Attendees included people just starting a community organization, experienced organizers, students, seasoned researchers and young researchers. Old friends greeted each other, and many new connections were made. While we can't expect to achieve everything in a single meeting, we think we have built the base network of support that will now allow us to further explore the relationships and challenges we face as researchers and community activists together.

As event co-organizer Janaki Jagannath, of the San Joaquin Valley Sustainable Agriculture Collaborative said, “I think the impact was a lot greater than we could have imagined, bringing together a lot of people who don't normally get to share space and are really eager to do so in the coming year.”

You can revisit the day’s events and reflect further on the topics of discussion in several ways. First, consider viewing the live-stream, which is now archived (which includes the slides of the presenters). We live-tweeted with the hashtag #WorkingForJustice and you can search & read those tweets, plus articles and posts have already come out of it. Thaddeus Miller of the Merced Sun-Star wrote an article about the day, and Paul Towers, of Pesticide Action Network wrote a great blog piece, too. We also have a Photo Album on our Facebook page. If you have photos you’d like to share, just email them to us.

With lessons learned and productive feedback from many involved, we are looking forward to planning next year’s summit! And please read about Dr. Mario Sifuentez, below, our host & partner at UC Merced.

Focus on CIRS Partners: Dr. Mario Sifuentez

Mario Sifuentez

Partnerships with scholars and researchers interested in the well-being of rural communities and populations is part of the CIRS tradition. Academic faculty and research-based units within universities have both served as dynamic partners in developing research projects and even the next generation of rural scholars who want to build a more healthy California agriculture. Dr. Mario Sifuentez is one recent example of such a partner.

An Assistant Professor of History at The University of California, Merced (UC Merced), his work focuses on the history of farmworker organizing, immigration, and food. His new book, Of Forests and Fields: Mexican Labor in the Pacific Northwest, is available for order from Rutgers University Press. Mario is working with CIRS to help bring a deeper understanding of current issues and rural California through a critical lens of historical analysis and archival research. As a co-host for our Rural Summit on March 9th, Mario leveraged his connections with undergraduate and graduate students to help bring diverse new faces and voices to the discussion of research and social change in the San Joaquin Valley. Mario says, “We are at an important juncture on the rural studies landscape, as sons and daughters from various communities of color within the San Joaquin Valley begin to ask questions about their past, their present, and their future.” Our partnership with Mario helps us continue our commitment to rural research that reflects the needs and interests of diverse communities -- asking questions about the complex dynamics of power, change and history in rural regions like the San Joaquin Valley.

Rural California Report Blog Round-Up

The Greying of California Farming: Success and Succession by Matt Perry, California Farm Sales Thriving Amid Drought and 2016 Brings Changes to California Labor Rules both by Phil Martin, Sen. Dianne Feinstein Tries Yet Again with California Water Bill by Michael Doyle as well as our feature, below, The Need for a Higher Minimum Wage in Oregon by Ramon Ramirez and Andrea Miller. All the articles are featured on our website and are available as free downloadable files.

The Need for a Higher Minimum Wage in Oregon

by Ramon Ramirez and Andrea Miller

Lawmakers convened this month for Oregon’s 2016 legislative session, and one of the most heavily anticipated issues they are addressing is Oregon’s minimum wage. It’s no secret that Oregon’s current minimum wage is not enough on which to get by: A full-time minimum wage worker earns less than $20,000 a year, which is simply not enough to afford basic needs, like housing, child care and transportation. 

But what a lot of people may not realize is how our stagnated minimum wage has directly impacted Oregon’s historically underrepresented communities. More than half a million Oregonians are working in minimum wage jobs, and these individuals are disproportionately people of color. While people of color make up 42 percent of minimum wage workers, they constitute only 32 percent of the work force. In Oregon, nearly half of our Latino and African-American workers are employed in low-wage industries. Continue Reading

National Farmworker Awareness Week

2016 Farmworker Awareness Week poster

March 24 – 31, 2016 is the 17th annual National Farmworker Awareness Week (NFAW). A week of action for farmworkers to bring attention to issues in their own communities, as well as for advocates to amplify those voices and honor the important contributions farmworkers make to our daily lives.

Many events are happening across the nation, including a long-sleeved shirt drive, sponsored by the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP) and their member organizations, to raise awareness about the dangers farmworkers face working with pesticides and in the sun.

Ildi Carlisle-Cummins, CIRS’ Cal Ag Roots Director, will be participating in a screening and panel discussion of the film Food Chains at Watsonville's Main Library branch on March 31st, from 6-8pm. The film will be shown in both English and Spanish.


Thank you for your continued support!

Gail Wadsworth & Michael Courville

 Co-Executive Directors,

California Institute for Rural Studies

 California Institute for Rural Studies
P.O. Box 1047, Davis, CA 95617


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