UC Davis: 25 Historias del Valle Central

I heard just this morning that I’ve been accepted into the Community Development Graduate Group at UC Davis. I’m thrilled because the more I meet folks here in DC and the more I hear about exciting projects going on all over the country, the more I crave action — the hands-on work on the ground that I’ll be able to do in that program.

When I visited Davis back in September, I had a wonderful time meeting with professors and students; now I’ve some other folks from food and ag organizations in the nearby area — Community Alliance for Family Farmers, Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association, and California FarmLink and it seems like there would be a lot of potential for interesting projects with each of them.

Other things that make Davis awesome:

Which brings me to the post title… while stumbling around the Davis website, I came upon this moving, beautifully executed project by Tracy Perkins, a graduate of the Community Development Program. It’s called “25 Stories from the Central Valley” and it’s a multimedia project about the effects of agricultural pollution on local communities. The main event is a series of 25 photographs and captions that make up an online “exhibit” taking you through the human suffering that results from environmental abuses in the Central Valley. You have to visit the site to get the full effect, but I found this caption particularly moving:

“Josefina Miranda shows her daughter how she protects herself when she works in the fields. When Miranda was four months pregnant with an earlier child, she and her co-workers were put to work in a field still wet with pesticides. By the time they left, her clothes were so soaked that she could wring the pesticides out of them.  She miscarried the next day.”

So much to learn and do in California, and then it’s so close to my heart’s home in San Francisco and not too far from my parents.

I only worry about getting involved in a food system that may have a less than glorious future given the already frightening, and increasingly dire problem of water scarcity. Perhaps there’s hope, but on the other hand, maybe I should try Michigan!

6 comments

1 Anjali { 02.23.10 at 10:39 pm }

Yay, congrats! I’m still so excited you got in, you deserve it. Another bullet point you forgot in the what’s so great about Davis list is that you would be near(ish) me :)

I’ve never seen an online exhibit before but that was pretty cool. I never realized how much people’s lives in the central valley were ruled and defined by the industry there; the intersection of “Standard Oil” and “General Motors” streets was particularly telling. I found the picture you mentioned so heartbreaking, and the ones about the water bottles and the asthma shirt particularly horrifying as well.

2 Jeremy Aaron Dell { 02.24.10 at 6:57 pm }

Another historia del Valle Central.http://www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/9134.php

3 Jessica Daniel { 02.24.10 at 10:53 pm }

Hey, thanks Jeremy. I also just got a copy of this book http://upress.umn.edu/Books/S/street_everyone.html to review for a book prize — all on the history of farmworkers through the eyes of photographers. Ack, wish I had more time to read.

4 TikiPundit { 02.24.10 at 7:04 pm }

One advantage you didn’t mention is the overall quality of life in Davis and around the UCD campus. You could hardly have picked a better UC location in which to study and live. Each of the other campuses has many downs; UCD, few. The atmosphere in and around Davis is great. You are removed from the temptations of the Bay Area, the Sierra Nevadas and even Sacramento, yet you are close enough to go to each when you want (SanFran is a lot prettier from a distance). Campus and town life are really great in Davis. The huge main campus lets you stretch your legs. And they don’t really cow-tip that much: the academics are quite intense, owing to the quarter system.

/UCD 1993

5 Jess { 02.24.10 at 8:41 pm }

Wellllll, I disagree that SF is prettier from a distance — lived there and loved it, but from what I hear and from my limited experience, I agree with everything else about campus and town life in Davis itself. Just have to figure out how to leave in the summer since I don’t know if I can stand the heat.

On the other hand, haven’t really given Ann Arbor a fair shake yet (also accepted to University of Michigan) and I love the Pacific Northwest (Bainbridge Graduate Institute) so, it’s going to be an extremely tough decision.

6 Jess { 02.24.10 at 8:44 pm }

Aw, I know. I would be closer to so many friends, but the lure of adventure is strong and Michigan’s calling out to me to at least give it a chance. I know it’s cold and it’s certainly not close, but there’s something about checking out the middle part of the country that’s very very appealing to me.

Yeah, what a great project — I wonder how much traffic the site gets and how they’re doing outreach around the teaching resources. Seems like something that more Californians should know about.

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