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[Al Jazeera America] More than 1 million Californians don’t have reliable access to clean water
Apr 06, 2015 |

[Al Jazeera America] More than 1 million Californians don’t have reliable access to clean water

ARVIN, California – Californians who grumble about not being able to water their lawns everyday during the fourth year of a historic drought should swing by this small town in southern Kern County. Drought or no drought, residents of this rural community can’t drink water from the tap and can’t even use it for cooking because high levels of arsenic — known to cause cancer — become even more concentrated when water is boiled. “They worry about little things,” said Salvador Partida, president of the Committee for a Better Arvin, of the rest of the state. “We’re worried about not being able to drink the water.” Last week Gov. Jerry Brown ordered the State Water Resources Control Board to enact mandatory cuts in water use by 25 percent. But more than 1 million California residents who live in mostly rural areas have unreliable access to safe drinking water, according to the Community Water Center, a non-profit group that advocates affordable and clean water for all Californians. For them, the ongoing drought that is ravaging the state's water supply is merely a sideshow. Tap water that comes mostly from wells in these communities violated maximum contaminant level standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency at least once in 2012 – the most recent annual compliance report by the state’s drinking water program.
[Coachella Independent] Taps That Can Be Trusted: Safe Drinking Water Is Coming to the Eastern Coachella Valley Thanks to the New Agua4All Program
Apr 06, 2015 |

[Coachella Independent] Taps That Can Be Trusted: Safe Drinking Water Is Coming to the Eastern Coachella Valley Thanks to the New Agua4All Program

Agua4All is a program with a catchy, informative name and an inarguably laudable objective: delivering safe drinking water to every resident of the state, regardless of location or income level. The program aims to provide this necessity via its proprietary water-filling stations, which are being installed in schools and community-meeting areas like parks, youth clubs and libraries. For too many Californians, the only accessible source for safe drinking water is commercially sold bottled water—an unaffordable solution for many underprivileged families. Currently in its pilot phase, Agua4All is focusing on disadvantaged communities in southern Kern County—and right here in the eastern Coachella Valley. “The original idea was actually conceived by The California Endowment, which has been the major funder of the program,” said Sarah Buck, rural development specialist for the Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC), which is charged with supervising and coordinating efforts around this program. “They have given us the opportunity and responsibility of designing it in a way that makes sense. Once this current pilot phase is over, we can replicate it and continue this work throughout all of rural California.” From January through early March, the RCAC ran a fundraising campaign, the second in the last year, on the Indiegogo crowdfunding platform. Unfortunately, the donation response was dismal, with just $575 raised.
[Coachella Unincorporated] City of Coachella Asks for Community’s Help in Preventing Gun and Gang Related Violence
Apr 03, 2015 |

[Coachella Unincorporated] City of Coachella Asks for Community’s Help in Preventing Gun and Gang Related Violence

On Friday, April 3, The City of Coachella held a press conference at city hall to ask the public for help in preventing violence in the community. “Today on Good Friday, we have organized, not individually, but as a community to stand here to send a message that the City of Coachella stands united and will do everything in its powers to combat the mindless menace of violence and gangs within our city,” Coachella Mayor Steven Hernandez said.The press conference comes five days after local youth, Anthony Delatorre, 20, was shot and killed on Marina Avenue in Coachella. Delatorre’s death was the latest incident in a series of gun and gang related crimes in Coachella over the past four months. During the press conference, Father Guy Wilson from Our Lady of Soledad in Coachella, offered condolences to Delatorre’s family members, who were in attendance, and he also urged community members to not encourage violence in their neighborhoods.
[New York Times] How to Encourage Healthier Eating
Apr 03, 2015 |

[New York Times] How to Encourage Healthier Eating

A primary justification behind a ban on using federal food stamps for junk food is that it is against the public interest for tax dollars to add fuel to a health crisis caused by poor diets. That logic dictates that we make such a policy more universal and not confined only to low-income people. Every year, public dollars are used when federal employees buy junk food while on official travel and, presumably, when federal agencies host conferences and other events. Extending a junk-food ban more broadly to federal employees might be difficult to enforce, but it would send an important message that if the federal government is going to ban using public funds for junk food, then it will be blind to income and employment status. Even partial compliance would be a step in the right direction.
[KPCC] $3.7M grant aims to get poor families to buy more produce
Apr 02, 2015 |

[KPCC] $3.7M grant aims to get poor families to buy more produce

A program that encourages low-income people to buy more fruit and vegetables at farmers markets will expand across Los Angeles and the state, thanks to a $3.7 million grant from the United States Department of Agriculture. The grant, announced Wednesday, will support California Market Match, which provides a financial incentive to people on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - formerly known as food stamps - to buy fresh produce at farmers markets. The program matches dollar-for-dollar the amount spent at participating farmers markets on fruit and vegetables - up to $10 per shopping outing in L.A. County. The federal award builds on a $2.5 million grant given last year by First 5 L.A.
[South Kern Sol] Photo Essay: Building Healthy Communities Resident and Youth Summits
Apr 02, 2015 |

[South Kern Sol] Photo Essay: Building Healthy Communities Resident and Youth Summits

In late March, Building Healthy Communities South Kern (BHC-SK) held their first-ever Resident and Youth Summit at Arvin High School. Community leaders presented on issues including water quality, keeping local parks safe and clean, and bringing jobs and public transportation to the South Kern region. BHC-SK is a community coalition comprised of over 1,200 residents, youth, business and organizations who are working for positive change in the communities of Arvin, Lamont, Weedpatch, and the unincorporated areas of Southeast Bakersfield. The coalition is seeking community input on a new action plan which will guide their work for the next five years.
[California Health Report] Why Young People Kill
Apr 01, 2015 |

[California Health Report] Why Young People Kill

Dwayne Taylor went to a party at the Ida B. Wells housing project one mid-May night as the Chicago weather was warming to the promise of spring. Once there, according to court documents, Taylor met up with three friends and made a disastrous decision: to rob someone. They left the party and drove around until they found a victim, 21-year-old Tedrin West. Taylor carjacked, abducted and robbed West before shooting him in the back of the head. As her son lay dead in a parking lot, West’s mother called his stolen phone. A man answered. “Where is Tedrin?” she asked. “Where is my son?” The reply: “He’s gone, bitch.” West was murdered in 1993. The group of perpetrators included a 14-year-old boy. The tragedy was part of a wave of youth violence that frightened city dwellers and the nation as a whole in the late ’80s and early ’90s. A graph of violent juvenile crime in the United States in those years looks like a one-sided mountain, climbing up and up with no summit in sight. Juvenile homicide rates jumped from 10 in 100,000 in 1985 to a high of 30 in 100,000 in 1993, just eight years later.
Apr 01, 2015 |

Investing in Communities of Color Means Investing in ME

A few weeks ago one of our Health Equity Fellows, Jessica Fuentes, blogged about how her experiences growing up shaped her definition of leadership. I want to continue this series of introductory blogs by talking about one of the projects I am currently...
[Access Local TV] Dr. Richard Pan Ready to Improve His District, Focus on Health
Mar 31, 2015 |

[Access Local TV] Dr. Richard Pan Ready to Improve His District, Focus on Health

On Saturday March 28th, State Senator Dr. Richard Pan held a meet and greet in his reclaimed office space as a thanks to those who supported him throughout his campaign. A light lunch and stimulating conversation were provided for the people who came out. Pan himself took every opportunity to chat with the attendees, rarely spending a moment unaccompanied. In between asking about a supporter’s family or work, he shared his political goals for his district.
[Los Angeles Times] New L.A. city guidelines take aim at sharp health disparities
Mar 31, 2015 |

[Los Angeles Times] New L.A. city guidelines take aim at sharp health disparities

In what experts say reflects a shift in thinking about public health policy, Los Angeles lawmakers Tuesday adopted new planning guidelines aimed at reducing sharp health disparities across the city. The objectives include improving access to grocery stores and increasing life expectancy. But they also establish targets not traditionally part of health policy: adding park space, reducing motor vehicle crashes, increasing the number of low-cost day-care centers and beautifying the community. Unanimously approved by the L.A. City Council, the Health and Wellness Element of the city's general plan acknowledges health is affected by a complex web of neighborhood conditions related to city planning.
[Los Angeles Times] LAPD is more diverse, but distrust in the community remains
Mar 30, 2015 |

[Los Angeles Times] LAPD is more diverse, but distrust in the community remains

The sweeps came on Friday nights in South Los Angeles, often before big events like Raiders games. Police would round up young men they thought were gang members and hold them over the weekend to keep violence down, a campaign launched by then-Chief Daryl F. Gates to control "the rotten little cowards." Francisco McClure recalled being arrested several times, only to be released the following Monday mornings without being charged. For the young black man, the fact that most of the officers were white made the experience even more bitter. The martial arts instructor, 50, these days sees more Latino and black faces patrolling his community of Jefferson Park, and he says the officers don't hassle residents as much. He commends them for holding neighborhood forums and using more dashboard cameras. But, he said, "they just cleaned up their act a little. Before it was white against blacks. Now it's just blue against blacks."
[Los Angeles Times] Navajo Nation sees tax on junk food as way to combat health problems
Mar 30, 2015 |

[Los Angeles Times] Navajo Nation sees tax on junk food as way to combat health problems

On a weekday shopping trip to the only real grocery store for 30 miles, Ann Neagle paused before a bag of Red Delicious apples, $7 for a dozen, plus a new discount — the Navajo Nation lifted the 5% sales tax on fresh fruits and vegetables. That's the carrot in the tribe's attempt to curb rampant obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Next comes the stick: A 2% tax on junk food. That tax, the first of its kind nationwide, will hit one of the most economically depressed areas in the country, where more than 40% of people are unemployed. Neagle is worried. "Less money for fruits is nice, but it doesn't even out," she said. "For people on a fixed income, we can't afford things to get more expensive."
[South Kern Sol] Touched by Loss, Families Lead Fight Against Police Violence
Mar 30, 2015 |

[South Kern Sol] Touched by Loss, Families Lead Fight Against Police Violence

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – On a Saturday afternoon in March over 200 protesters gathered in East Bakersfield along Mt. Vernon and Flower streets in East Bakersfield. The streets connect the sites where four men were killed in recent years in fatal encounters with police. The significance of the location is not lost on those gathered, many of them relatives of the slain men. “I’ve got one that says, ‘My uncle was shot by police officers,’ who does this apply to?” one organizer asked the crowd as it assembled around a pile of signs before the march began. “Who’s lost an uncle and wants this sign?” After collecting their signs, the group – numbering in the hundreds – marched along the 2.4 mile-long route along which David Silva, David Turner, James de la Rosa, and Ronnie Ledesma all died at the hands of local law enforcement. For the past few years now, families around this Central Valley city have been gathering for regular rallies such as this one – sometimes ending in barbecue picnics – to put a spotlight on the issue of police violence in the community.
[Oakland Voices] Canticle Farms: Dancing on the Horizon
Mar 30, 2015 |

[Oakland Voices] Canticle Farms: Dancing on the Horizon

When one hears the word “farm,” all sorts of images cross one’s mind. The idyllic world described in the childhood nursery rhyme “Old McDonald.” Small truck farms located on the margins of country roads. Or maybe the acres and acres of farmland one sees driving down I-5.Canticle Farm is none of these. Rather it is an urban farm located on 36th Avenue and Harrington Avenue in East Oakland–three parcels of land that are now joined as one. In founding Canticle Farm, Anne and Terry Symens-Bucher drew from their life-long experiences and activities as faith-based, nonviolent peacemakers. Over the last six years, Anne and Terry and their five children, who are fifth generation Fruitvale residents, have been joined by several others who now comprise Canticle Farm’s intentional community. The farm’s name is derived from a prayer-poem written by the 14th century Catholic saint and mystic St. Francis of Assisi. The “Canticle of Brother Son and Sister Moon” described the saint’s ecstatic realization that the entire universe reflects and magnifies the presence and handiwork of the Creator in all of its dimensions.
[Los Angeles Daily News] Undocumented workers part of Los Angeles minimum wage debate
Mar 30, 2015 |

[Los Angeles Daily News] Undocumented workers part of Los Angeles minimum wage debate

Will raising Los Angeles’ minimum wage grow the underground economy or help tear it down? That’s the question being asked as Los Angeles City Hall leaders weigh a plan to hike the city’s minimum wage. Undocumented workers in Los Angeles hold the low-paying jobs targeted by supporters of raising the minimum wage, working in restaurants, factories, and in child care service. Supporters contend those industries would be helped by hiking the city’s minimum wage, currently set at $9, to at least $13.25.
[Newsweek] Fighting to Reclaim the Future of Oakland's Young Black Men
Mar 26, 2015 |

[Newsweek] Fighting to Reclaim the Future of Oakland's Young Black Men

The Oakland Unified School District’s Office of African American Male Achievement is housed in a one-story portable classroom in the downtown neighborhood of Grand Lake. There are few windows in the barely glorified bunker, which may be for the best: They would just let in the incessant hum of the adjacent MacArthur Freeway. The only bathroom is across a parking lot, which is lined with a phalanx of similar portables painted a deceptively alluring sky-blue. It is somehow fitting that the highway thrums but a few feet away—maybe it reminds those who work here that the goal is to whisk the city's young out of Oakland, to Silicon Valley, to San Francisco, to any place that is better than this place that they have always known. About three miles to the north, at 809 57th Street, is the former home of 1960s radical Bobby Seale, a modest bungalow that sold three years ago for $425,000. In 1966, the year he helped start the Black Panther Party, Seale and fellow founder Huey Newton drafted a 10-point program for the black power movement in the dining room of that house. The fifth of those demands concerned schooling: “We want education for our people that exposes the true nature of this decadent American society. We want education that teaches us our true history and our role in the present day society.”
[Sacramento Bee] It would be a devastating mistake to dismantle Proposition 47
Mar 25, 2015 |

[Sacramento Bee] It would be a devastating mistake to dismantle Proposition 47

Last November, Californians took a historic step forward in criminal justice reform by decisively passing Proposition 47, demonstrating widespread support for smart policies that improve public safety and end our punishment economy. The measure requires that certain low-level offenses such as shoplifting or simple drug possession be charged as misdemeanors, and directs the millions in annual savings from reduced rates of incarceration towards mental health and drug treatment, school programs and victim services. Before the measure, crimes now classified as misdemeanors were “wobblers,” meaning that it was up to prosecutors to decide whether to charge individuals with either a felony or a misdemeanor. Mandating that certain low-level offenses be consistently treated as misdemeanors makes the system less vulnerable to bias and injustice. But only a few months later and before Proposition 47 can be fully implemented, some misguided lawmakers are trying to undermine the will of the voters by introducing bills designed to dismantle this important initiative that made the system fairer.
[California Health Report] Hope in a Hidden Public Health Crisis
Mar 23, 2015 |

[California Health Report] Hope in a Hidden Public Health Crisis

LaVerne Vaughn made a decision after she served prison time in her late 30s: She’d live the rest of her life a free woman. Vaughn, now in her early 40s, with a platinum pixie cut and a steady, empathetic gaze, kept her promise to herself. Several years after her release, she started working in violence prevention and helping ex-cons in Richmond, Calif., find their footing after prison. Vaughn’s life isn’t crime-free, despite her successful turnaround. She sees violence on a regular basis, both as a resident of Richmond and in her work for the Office of Neighborhood Safety, the city agency charged with preventing homicides. Richmond, a city of 100,000, is known for its high homicide rate. Guns are the weapons of choice. Comforting mothers whose children have been murdered or maimed by gunfire is part of what Vaughn does. Asked if her work is difficult, she replies softly: “Sometimes. Sometimes it is.” Violence prevention workers in the city face a daunting task. Drive-by shootings are routine, shootings sometimes claim innocent bystanders, and few murders are solved. The homicide rate has soared to nine times the national average twice in the past decade. During one of those especially tragic years, 2006, the city was desperate. That year residents built tent cities in high crime areas in their own attempt to make the streets safe. In 2007 the city opened the Office of Neighborhood Safety.
Project Kinship: Healing Trauma and Empowering the Formerly Incarcerated
Mar 23, 2015 |

Project Kinship: Healing Trauma and Empowering the Formerly Incarcerated

Twenty-one months after leaving Orange County’s central jail, I found myself in front of a dozen teenage girls at Huntington Beach’s Ocean View High School.  A gang member by age thirteen and locked up for the first time before my eighteenth birthday, I...
Healing Together
Mar 23, 2015 |

Healing Together

The Healing Together event on January 29, 2015 at The California Endowment’s Center for Healthy Communities nurtured a compelling conversation on trauma, healing, and hope, and carried a strong and loving charge for transformation and...
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