California’s Most Unlikely Philanthropist Is Starting a New Chapter

Fabiola Moreno Ruelas Is Graduating—And Sending More Students Off to College

Among the thousands of students graduating from San Diego State this weekend is one of California’s youngest and most unlikely philanthropists.

I first profiled Fabiola Moreno Ruelas, now 21, three summers ago, after meeting her in Gonzales, her small hometown in the Salinas Valley. Her story was simple—but unforgettable.

Fabiola had very few resources growing up. Her father had been deported, her family was evicted from housing, and she and her mother relied on food stamps to eat and on donations from neighbors and church for clothes and schoolbooks. She did well …

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 …

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 …