California Needs an Agricultural Revolution

From the Ojai Valley, I Can See the State’s Post-Carbon Future—And It Looks Like the Ancient Past

The Ojai Valley in Ventura County is a magical place. Consider its elements: the sweet and intoxicating smell of California citrus blossoms in the spring, the open space preserved by orchards, the seasonal creeks that run free through the cultivated lands, the surrounding chaparral covered hills and mountains.

But the Ojai Valley is also a place in peril. That’s because the water source that keeps this inland Ventura hamlet thriving is nearly dry.

Lake Casitas reservoir was built in the late 1950s when decades of plentiful rain hid the true nature of …

Lettuce Lands Are Unlikely Vaccination Leaders | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Why California’s Lettuce Lands Are Unlikely Vaccination Leaders

The Rural Salinas and Imperial Valleys Have Succeeded in Reaching the People the Rest of the State Can't Inoculate

If demographics and geography really were COVID destiny, then Gonzales—a small, working-class town with a young, overwhelmingly Latino population in rural California—would be a pandemic disaster.

Instead, Gonzales is among California’s …

Deuel Vocational Institution

Out With Mass Incarceration and in With Mass Commerce

Can California Call It Progress When Rural Prisons Are Replaced With Retail Warehouses?

As California starts closing prisons, what might open in their place?

I glimpsed one answer to that question while driving to Deuel Vocational Institution, between the San Joaquin County cities of …

Colorado River water

When the Colorado River Runs Dry

A Coachella Valley Farmer Reflects on the Water Source He, His Date Palms, and People and Animals Across California Rely On

Even as she was going blind, my mom, ever the poet, delighted in sitting out among the palms and birds, and enjoying and visualizing the scene, as I irrigated my …

The Fires California Grieves—And Needs | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Fires California Grieves—And Needs

In Her Scorched Klamath Mountains Community, a Fire Advisor Contemplates Mortality and Renewal

On a recent Sunday, I lay alone by my favorite hometown swimming hole, taking in the familiar sensations of the South Fork Trinity River. The hot sun, the light up-canyon …