I’ve got an article coming out today in the inaugural edition of the new UC Press journal Boom: A Journal of California. I wrote it with one of my Master’s advisors from UC Davis, Julie Sze. I’m excited because Boom is designed to be a cross-over publication read by scholars and the general public alike, so among other things, it looks beautiful and some of the articles are available for free online (hard-copies are also for sale in some news outlets and bookstores). The editors also tried to make it “count” for academic contributors by putting it through the usual scholarly peer review process. I wish this new publication every success and hope to see more like it in the future!
Our piece features a short article on environmental justice in the Central Valley, some of my photos from the 25 Stories from the Central Valley exhibit, and excerpts from my interviews with Teresa DeAnda (Earlimart), Mary Lou Mares (Kettleman City) and Debbie Reyes (Fresno). I’ll be attending one of the launch events at the Oakland Museum tomorrow night.
Here’s the intro text:
When Californians think of the Central Valley, they often think of its problems: poverty, pesticides, disputes over the allocation of irrigation water, farmworker deaths, and, most recently, a cluster of babies born with birth defects in the small town of Kettleman City. These are some of the ways this region makes the statewide news. But the Central Valley also has a rich history of community organizing and its own stark beauty. These photographs by Tracy Perkins and the oral histories she collected to accompany them document an important aspect of life there: environmental-health problems and the diverse network of advocates who are fighting to solve them.
Practically speaking, the Central Valley is all but invisible to those who live outside it. Over the course of the twentieth century, legislators and growers turned this 500-mile-long stretch of land into one of the most intensively farmed regions in the world, watered by one of the world’s most ambitious irrigation systems. Although California leads the nation in agricultural production, many Californians have little sense of what goes on in the agricultural regions of their state. This invisibility helps to explain why California has located two of the state’s three hazardous-waste landfills and many of its prisons there, while also continuing to allow high levels of toxicity in the air and water…