May: Welcome Michael Courville, Matching Grant for "Docks to Delta" Crowdrise Campaign Announcement + More

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 In this Newsletter

 Weekly Blog Round Up

Welcome Michael Courville!

"Docks to Delta" Matching Grant Announced & Updates

Food First 40th Anniversary

Celebrating Women in Ag

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. 

  Keep in touch!




Rural California Report Blog Roundup

Barriers to Care Persist Despite Expansion of Medi-Cal by Robin Urevich, Farm Labor, Agriculture Update in Rural California and California’s Water Troubles Continue by Philip Martin, Soil’s Role Before and After Wildfires by European Geosciences Union, At Supreme Court, Raisin Rules Get Scoopful of Arguments by Michael Doyle, Jerry Brown’s Next Legacy by Adam Kotin, and our feature, below, on what’s new at CIRS!

All articles are featured on our website in the Rural California Report Blog, and are available there as free downloadable files.

Welcome Michael Courville! Continuity, Change & Shared Leadership at CIRS

Mike Courville

By Gail Wadsworth and Michael Courville

We wanted to share with you some reflections on the legacy of CIRS, the changes we have made over the years to stay the course, the announcement of an addition to our leadership team at CIRS, and a change in its structure.

Continuity and Change

Much of the work we have done at CIRS has been focused on generating rigorous research and analysis, to help identify equitable solutions to long-standing dilemmas in California farming. Our work has also focused on the needs of diverse communities where farming takes place-from farmworker neighborhoods of the San Joaquin Valley, to urban agricultural outposts in Santa Cruz. While rural communities continue to change, the mission of CIRS remains focused on the persistent challenges of equitable food production and community development. There is still a need for fact-based solutions to address these challenges. The CIRS commitment to scientific inquiry that consciously serves the long-term public interest has not waned.

Maintaining and developing our work is no small task, and our success builds ever-deepening connections to networks of people concerned about food, labor, water quality, climate change, rural community health, the environment, and agricultural policy. The continuity of CIRS has been proven through its ability to make change when needed. For example, in 2010 we became a virtual office with the vision of staff dispersed and working on the ground in rural communities. We also recognized that getting the best researchers for the job would often require us to contract with professionals outside our staff, so we have developed a list of affiliated researchers who you can see on our website and who consistently respond and provide excellent services.

Now we are embracing a model of shared leadership, both in practice and in title. CIRS has always made a big footprint with few staff, and while this has served us well, it has not allowed us to build the next generation of future leaders. So I asked Michael Courville to work alongside me as Co-Executive Director. I am happy to announce that he started in April. Michael brings a depth of experience in social research and nonprofit management that will complement and strengthen my own work at CIRS, and he brings a real passion for rural issues that have kept him engaged in research and rural community advocacy his entire career. Continue Reading


Matching Grant Announced & Updates for "Docks to Delta" Campaign

Hopefully CIRS newsletter readers will have seen by now that we're launching our Cal Ag Roots Project in the fall with our Docks to Delta event and podcast series. Well we’ve got some GREAT NEWS: You can now super-charge your donations to our Docks to Delta Campaign! Thanks to a very generous $2500 matching grant from Sarah Schwartz-Sax & Meg Coward, you have the opportunity to double your donation between now and May 25th. Help us move in double-time towards our goal!

The light at the end of this fundraising tunnel is in sight--June 10th!-- which means it's definitely time to make every day count. If we can bring in just $215 dollars a day, we'll be able to unearth and lift up some really fascinating hidden histories along the Capitol Corridor Route. Please consider joining our campaign, and sharing it with friends and family (equally important!) at

NLP boondoggle

Last week, Project Director Ildi Carlisle-Cummins dug up this gem from the archives in Fresno while researching one of our three Docks to Delta stories-- the epic tale of National Land for the People, which was a rollicking, pull-no-punches effort to enforce water acreage limitations in the San Joaquin Valley in the 1970's and 80's. As the Capitol Corridor train rumbles past the Sacramento Delta, a key source of water for the Westlands District, listeners will hear about how National Land for the People battled against illegal use of subsidized water. NLP even went so far as to take busloads of people on "reality tours" across the San Joaquin Valley to various "water crime scenes." Anyone experiencing water war deja vu, yet?!

Food First 40th Anniversary Event, May 20th


Join renowned thought leaders for a conversation about the evolution of the food movement over the past 40 years and the contributions of Food First’s scholarship and activism in shaping the debate around food, agriculture, and development as part of the celebration of Food First’s 40th anniversary! Past and current Food First staff and board members will share their experiences building the food movement.

Come early for a special VIP Reception with the Panelists! Mingle over refreshments and drinks with key authors, leaders, and activists in the food movement today. Receive complimentary copies of an autographed Food First favorite book, a 40th Anniversary poster, and a Food First tote bag. Space is limited so reserve your tickets today!

Celebrating Women in Agriculture, May 31st, at Full Belly Farm

As many of you know, Full Belly is home to many outreach activities, including educational tours, school group visits, and the much-acclaimed annual Hoes Down Harvest Festival. Through such programs to the general public, Full Belly seeks to create awareness of farm realities and to stress the importance of farms in the fabric of our society.

On May 31st, from 10-4pm, they’ll be hosting “Celebrating Women in Agriculture,” a full day of workshops, hands on learning, women speakers, farm tool demonstrations & discussion groups, geared to empower all women farmers and farmworkers. We’ll be there and we’d love to see you. Call 530-796-2214 for more information or to RSVP.

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


Not interested any more?