CIRS Blog about Rural California

Jonathan London

Jonathan London

Jonathan K. London is an educator, researcher, and community-builder with experience in participatory research, rural community development, and community engaged planning. Jonathan holds a BA in Environmental Studies from Brown University, a Masters in City and Regional Planning and a Ph.D. in Environmental Science Policy and Management from UC Berkeley. As Assistant Professor of Human and Community Development at UC Davis, Jonathan¹s research addresses conflicts and collaboration in natural resource and environmental issues, with a particular emphasis on marginalized rural communities and environmental justice issues in the Sierra Nevada and the Central Valley. Jonathan also directs the UC Davis Center for Regional Change (CRC), which serves as a catalyst for multi-disciplinary and action-oriented research that informs efforts to build healthy, prosperous, equitable, and sustainable regions. He also is honored to serve on the board of CIRS and is the immediate past President.


California’s San Joaquin Valley is a place of contradictions. It has some of the most productive and wealth-generating agricultural lands on the planet, but many of the people who live in this region live in poverty, confront environmental contamination, and face serious health risks. Despite efforts to alleviate these problems, the region’s poor air and water quality, concentrated poverty, and uneven access to educational and other opportunities continue to afflict the Valley. Additionally, sustainability of the Valley’s economy is increasingly dependent on the health and well-being of the all of the region’s residents across its diverse rural and urban communities.

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Jonathan London and Ted Bradshaw

 

This essay is based on research being conducted for a book by Jonathan London, Ted Bradshaw and Ed Blakely. Ted Bradshaw passed away before this article was written but the concepts and structure were developed in conversation with Jonathan London. In honor of these intellectual influences, this article is credited as a co-authored piece.

 

 

For those who care about rural places, whether scholars or practitioners (or, in the case of these authors, both) the inadequacy of analytical frameworks for understanding and therefore intervening in rural change is troubling. Alternately framed as an immaterial anachronism in an increasingly dominant metroscape; a victim of over-determined and extractive structures of modernity, capitalism, and globalization; a romanticized lost agrarian world, or an uncritical site of local progress, the dominant rural discourses provide little basis for satisfying intellectual or political projects.


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