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 most vaccinated places. In this Salinas Valley town of 9,000, where fewer than 10 percent of adults have a college degree, 98 percent of eligible residents have received at least one dose.

Readers of this column know that Gonzales is often an outlier of excellence among California communities. But in this case, it’s part of a larger, unexpected success story around …

Small Towns Can Create Big Change | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Small Towns Can Create Big Change

From Banning Private Prisons to Universal Broadband and Pre-K, Necessity and Opportunity Allow California Communities to Punch Above Their Weight

Before answering the question of the evening—“What Makes a Good Small Town?”—the panelists at a Zócalo/California Wellness Foundation event had to choose a definition. What, asked moderator and Los Angeles …

The Huge Electric Leadership of a Small California Town | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Huge Electric Leadership of a Small California Town

By Building Its Own Microgrid, Rural Gonzales Charts a Path to the Energy Future

If California is lucky, our energy future could look like a small town in the rural Salinas Valley.

Longtime readers of this column will not be surprised to learn that the …

One Small California Town’s 15-Year Fight for Universal Broadband | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

One Small California Town’s 15-Year Fight for Universal Broadband

Gonzales’ Victory Is a Lesson on Power, and How Communities Can Beat the Odds

If California is really the global tech capital it claims to be, why is it so hard for the state’s small towns to get the top-notch internet broadband service they …

‘We Put the Ultrasound Machine in the Local Pharmacy’ | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

We Put the Ultrasound Machine in the Local Pharmacy

Physician Assistant Luz Garcia Is Bringing a Family Practice to Where Her Community Is

If you walk into the local pharmacy in downtown Gonzales and turn to the right, you’ll see an examination room with an ultrasound machine. It represents more than just a …

The Fabulous Fable of Fabiola’s Scholarship Fund | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Fabulous Fable of Fabiola’s Scholarship Fund

While Rich Californians Paid Bribes to Get Their Kids Into College, a Struggling Sophomore Shares Her Small Windfall

This spring—as federal prosecutors announced a major college admissions scandal that had ensnared wealthy movie stars and prominent Californians, who paid millions in bribes to get their kids into elite …