California Studies Association

The latest news, events, and perspectives from the CSA

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New book on California’s coast

Richmond author and environmental activist Dave Helvarg will release his newest title from St. Martin’s Press, The Golden Shore – California’s Love Affair with the Sea,  February 19th. He’ll be doing book tours up and down the state, look for him.




Call for Papers: Black California Dreamin’ at UCSB, Web Project and Conference

From the UCSB Center for Black Studies Research.

Call For Papers and Other Works

Black California Dreamin’

Social Vision and the Crisis of California’s African American Communities

Download PDF

Black California Dreamin’: Social Vision and the Crisis of California’s African American Communities is a book and internet project sponsored by the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Center for Black Studies Research. Articles, essays, and other works will be published in different formats by the Center in July of 2011. A conference on the findings will be held in May, 2011.

The Crisis of California’s African American Communities project is designed to critically examine the multiple challenges faced by Black individuals, families, and communities as a result of the global economic downturn of 2008 and the subsequent state fiscal crisis. Prior to these extraordinary events, African Americans already led the state with the highest rates of high school dropouts, homelessness, incarceration, and mortality. Since the economic crisis, they have also experienced extreme rates of layoffs, unemployment and housing foreclosure, the elimination of life sustaining social and educational programs, and the closure of major organizations, institutions, organizations and cultural programs.

The purpose of the project is as follows:

  • To investigate the central role African Americans have played in transforming their communities, the state, and the nation during the last three decades.
  • To document the origins of the multiple crises currently facing African American communities.
  • To examine the impact of the current economic crisis and the emergence of new conditions, policies, communities, organizations, institutions, social movements, and cultural practices and movements. Of particular interest are differential regional realities and responses.
  • To identify solutions to the crisis emerging throughout the state.

We invite community members, scholars, researchers and students to submit research papers (a maximum 6000 words), shorter essays, policy analysis, poetry, artwork, photographs, photo-essays, lyrics, biographies, autobiographies, organizational profiles, profiles of solution-oriented projects, interviews, dialogues, agendas, and multi-media projects. Additionally, we are particularly interested in documenting the perspectives of youth, women, families, the African American “pioneers” who arrived in California during the 1940s and 1950s.

The work will be published by the Center for Black Studies Research. Abstracts for papers and other works (a maximum of 500 words) should be submitted to Professor Clyde Woods, before November 15, 2010. Final works will be due on April, 1, 2011.

Editors: Professors Clyde Woods (UCSB), Gaye Johnson (UCSB), George Lipsitz (UCSB), Ula Taylor (UCB), Daniel Widener (UCSD), and Program Coordinator Alva Stevenson (UCLA Libraries). Editorial Board:  Curator Susan Anderson ( Collecting Los Angeles, UCLA), Prof. Stephanie Batiste (UCSB),  Laurica Brown (UCSB), Prof. Wendel Eckford (LACC), Gregory Everett (filmmaker), Prof. Dawn-Elissa Fischer (SFSU), Julie Grigsby (UTexas), Alison Jefferson (UCSB), Yusef Omowale (Southern California Library),  Prof. Shana Redmond (USC), Dr. Damien Schnyder (UCSB), and  Miya Williams (Emerson Univ.)

For further information contact the Center for Black Studies Research, University of California, Santa Barbara,  4603 South Hall, University of California Santa Barbara, CA 93106-3140. Phone: (805) 893-3914. Fax: (805) 893-7243. Email:, Website:


Watsonville Farmworkers Meeting & Demo, August 8

From Chris Lepe via Richard Hobbs


Strawberry Harvesting Demonstration & Field Home Visit Followed by
Dialogue,  Testimonials, & Dinner with Farmworkers at Migrant Labor
Camp in Watsonville

Sunday, August 8, 2010:  3 – 9 PM
Group Size:

Limited to the first 25 who register.  Children with parents welcome.
The first 25 persons to register (pay) will be able to attend.  Must
register by July 31.

$25 per Person – Check Payable to “Human Agenda”.  Send to Human
Agenda Treasurer, 3845 Wellington Square, San Jose, CA 95136. Proceeds
go to farmworker families hosting the tour.

At 3:00 PM in the surface parking lot at SJCC at the corner of
Moorpark and Leigh Avenues.  We will carpool to Watsonville.

Jeans, T-shirts, etc. (nothing flashy or ostentatious).
Tour Leaders

Dr. Ann Lopez, Professor and Author, The Farmworkers’ Journey,Richard
Hobbs, Esq., Executive Director, Human Agenda
Further Info:

Contact Richard Hobbs at 408-460-2999 or


This tour will challenge participants to better understand the
conditions of Mexican farmworkers in Northern California.  We will
drive to a field where a very low-income family will demonstrate how
to harvest strawberries and then show us their very modest home.  Then
we will drive to the Buena Vista Migrant Labor Camp near Watsonville
where farmworkers will share a look at their living quarters and give
testimonies on their wages, working conditions, the use of pesticides,
and the challenges their children have in receiving education.  A
farmworker meal is included in the cost.  The tour leaders will share
detailed information on farmworkers including demographics, how
globalization propels immigration, the prospects for passage of AgJobs
and immigration reform, and the conditions of farmworkers on both
sides of the border.  For those who wish, Ann Lopez will sign copies
of her recent book, The Farmworkers’ Journey, at the discounted rate
of $15.  Photos are OK only at the labor camp.


California Media Collaborative Rethinks News Media Deployment

From David Simon, formerly of the Baltimore Sun, to Joe Rodriguez of the Mercury News, reporters, media executives, and observers suggest that we either need to bail out the newspapers, change corporate practices, or invent some a form of media or expand an existing one to distribute the news in a responsible and orderly way.

This post comes to us from Louis Freedberg, the founder and director of the California Media Collaborative, an inter-sectoral project to try and rethink the deployment of news media. They have a new project for investigative journalism on issues facing our state. Take a look at Freedberg’s announcement below.–ed.


Dear Friends:

I wanted to pass on some good news.

As many of you know, over the past year my colleagues and I at the California Media Collaborative have been developing a plan for a new reporting venture in California, in response to the multiple crises facing the news media

We have now joined forces with the Center for Investigative Reporting, the nation’s oldest investigative journalism organization, which is also making California a major focus of its work.  CIR is led by Robert Rosenthal, the former managing editor of the San Francisco Chronicle and executive editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Together we will be launching a new California-focused reporting venture at CIR, with major support from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and The James Irvine Foundation. We’ll be hiring a small group of reporters to do in-depth, watchdog and investigative journalism, focusing on issues such as education, immigration, criminal justice and the impact of the recession on  Californians.   Much of it will be data driven in order to show how state level issues affect people in their own communities, and we’ll be using Web-based technology in new and creative ways.

Many of these ideas were first discussed at the landmark Travers Program conference at UC Berkeley to which many of you made such valuable contributions about 18 months ago.

This project is at its core a collaborative one  – which will mean collaborating not only with other media outlets, but with non-profit organizations, academic and public policy institutions, foundations, civic leaders and others who care about how Californians will be informed and engaged on critical issues facing the state and the nation.

I also encourage you to take a look at the Collaborative’s blog site, as well as CIR’s website,  We are developing an entirely new Web site for our new California initiative.  In the meantime, the blog site is intended to be an online convenor of discussion and comment on the state of the news media in California — and to highlight new media innovations.   Please participate!

I look forward to being in touch with you as we move forward with this exciting opportunity


Louis Freedberg

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New Book on Prop. 13 from IGS at UC Berkeley + Companion Conference Online

Our colleague, Ethan Rarick, the director of the Center for Politics and Public Service at the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley, sends us information on IGS’s publication of this new book on Prop 13. Ever timely, revisiting Prop 13 is especially critical now with rumbles of a constitutional convention and new tax policies reverberating through the state. The book contains articles from several friends of the California Studies Association.

In addition to the book, take a look at IGS’s recent conference on Prop 13: the conference is available on several video sites linked from this site where  you can also view slide presentations. IGS has other publications here.

Cover image
After the Tax Revolt:
Proposition 13 Turns 30

Jack Citrin and Isaac William Martin, editors

A New Examination of the Legacy of a California Political Milestone

In 1978 California voters shocked the political world by approving Proposition 13, a strict limit on local property tax rates. No state had ever approved such a far-reaching constitutional limitation of the power to tax. And Californians did not just approve it; they embraced it, rejecting dire warnings of doomsday from the state’s political, business, and academic leaders. Voter turnout was the highest recorded for any off-year election in the history of California and the tax cut won in a landslide, with 65 percent of the vote. Thirty years later, Proposition 13 remains firmly entrenched in California’s constitution, but what has it meant for politics and public policy in the state?

On June 6, 2008, the thirtieth anniversary of the adoption of Proposition 13, a group of scholars, journalists and policy experts gathered to assess the legacy of this groundbreaking measure. Their mandate was a simple one: assess what we have learned about the political, economic, and fiscal consequences of Proposition 13 over the last 30 years.

After the Tax Revolt: California’s Proposition 13 Turns 30 is a result of that conference, and an attempt to summarize the state of our knowledge about the consequences of this critical event in the history of California and the United States. This collection of essays constitutes a cutting-edge and timely review of one of the most important reforms in California history, and will be crucial for anyone trying to gain a full understanding of politics and policy in the Golden State.

Order at or by calling 510-642-1428

Contributors include:
Mark DiCamillo, Field Poll
David Doerr, California Taxpayers Association
William Fischel, Dartmouth
Joel Fox, Fox and Hounds Daily
John Fund, Wall Street Journal
David Gamage, UC-Berkeley
Jean Ross, California Budget Project
Terri Sexton, California State University, Sacramento
Steven Sheffrin, UC-Davis
Kirk Stark, UCLA

About the Editors:
Jack Citrin is Heller Professor of Political Science and the director of the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
Isaac Martin is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of California, San Diego.

Ethan Rarick
Robert T. Matsui Center for Politics and Public Service
Institute of Governmental Studies
University of California, Berkeley
111 Moses MC 2370
Berkeley, CA  94720

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Calbuzz: New Blog from Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstein on California Politics

Just in time for the special election circus and governor’s race side show, two longtime political journalists and commentators have teamed up to form Calbuzz, a new blog about the Golden State’s pu . . . pu . . . pu . . . political scene. Trounstein was recently on the CSA’s radar for our most recent conference on the Silicon Valley because he co-authored, with San Jose State professor Terry Christensen, one of the seminal books on politics in  San Jose, Movers and Shakers: The Study of Community Power (1983).

“About Us

Jerry Roberts is a California journalist who writes, blogs and hosts a TV talk show about politics, policy and media. Former political editor, editorial page editor and managing editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, he serves as student adviser for the Daily Nexus newspaper at UC Santa Barbara. He is the author of “Never Let Them See You Cry,” a biography of Senator Dianne Feinstein.

Phil Trounstine is a communications consultant, pollster and political writer. He is the former political editor of the San Jose Mercury News, former communications director for California Gov. Gray Davis and was the founder and director of the Survey and Policy Research Institute at San Jose State University. He is co-author of “Movers and Shakers: The Study of Community Power.”

via Calbuzz.

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Author event at Capitola Book Café: Eric Soderquist and Chris Burkard presnt their “California Surf Project” April 22

The Capitola Book Café will present the authors of The California Surf Project April 22, at 7:30 p.m.  From the book café’s listing:

Eric Soderquist is a professional surfer and artist who has participated as both in numerous contests, films and community events while traveling the world from Peru to Australia. Chris Burkard is a surf photographer who has worked for Surfer, Surfing, Transworld Surf,, Patagonia and Burton Snowboards; he is the winner of the Follow The Light Foundation grant (in memory of Larry Moore). Together they cajoled their Volkswagen bus along Highway 1 from the Oregon border to the Tijuana Sloughs. Their fully illustrated book is a love letter to the astounding California Coast and a testament to the passion for catching a perfect wave. This event includes a visual presentation.

1475 41st Avenue, Capitola, CA 95010

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Vox California: Cultural Meanings of Linguistic Diversity Interdisciplinary Workshop, at UCSB, April 3-4

Forwarded by Nari Rhee:

The Center for Latino Policy Research is happy to be a co-sponsor of this important interdisciplinary workshop that will take place Friday, April 3 and Saturday April 4 on the UC Santa Barbara campus. For additional information please click on the link below.

Vox California: Cultural Meanings of Linguistic Diversity
A UC Interdisciplinary Workshop

April 3-4, 2009
University of California, Santa Barbara
HSSB 6020

“Vox California” is an interdisciplinary workshop that seeks both to highlight language as a central component of California studies and to establish California as a crucial site for the investigation of language in social life. As the first conference to focus on the full scope of California’s linguistic resources, including but not limited to indigenous and immigrant languages, regional and ethnoracial dialects, subcultural linguistic styles, and linguistically mediated social activities, “Vox California” has a broad interdisciplinary mandate to examine how language semiotically shapes the sociocultural meaning of California and Californians locally, nationally, and globally. The workshop’s goal is not simply to document the state’s linguistic diversity but more importantly to investigate the cultural meanings of specific linguistic forms, representations, and practices, including social identities, political ideologies, and embodied cultural activities.

REGISTRATION IS FREE BUT ADVANCE REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. To register, and for more information, see the Vox California website:

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Mark Baldassare: PPIC Comment: From CA Crisis to Innovation


Reproduced from PPIC website


From Crisis Comes Hope for Innovation

By Mark Baldassare, president and CEO,
Public Policy Institute of California

This opinion article appeared in the
Sacramento Bee on February 24, 2009

Like earthquakes, wildfires and droughts, California’s budget crises are perennial plagues in this state, though budget problems are happening with more predictability.

In 2003, a budget deficit of $38 billion resulted in the history-making recall of Gov. Gray Davis, who was replaced by action movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger. This year, the sequel played for nearly four months as California state legislators scrambled to fill a $40 billion-plus budget gap.

Why is the world’s eighth-largest economy so prone to budget dramas, and what will be the political repercussions of the latest fiscal meltdown in California? Unlike other large states, California requires lawmakers to operate under three tough conditions: a two-thirds vote for passing state budgets and taxes, legislative term limits, and the citizens’ initiative process. Let’s look at the impact of these conditions.

First, the two-thirds vote threshold sets a very high bar for bipartisan compromise, often leaving tax increases and spending cuts off the table in favor of budget gimmicks and borrowing as lawmakers search for a two-thirds consensus. The track record in this decade readily calls into question the belief that a two-thirds vote leads to sounder fiscal policies.

Second, term limits have stripped the legislative bodies of two important ingredients needed to forge complex budget deals: a deep bench of fiscally knowledgeable legislators and long-term, trusting relationships. In the two decades since term limits took effect, the Legislature has struggled to pass a budget on time.

Third, the initiative process has made it easy for voters to restrict lawmakers’ abilities to raise revenues and make spending decisions – most famously through Proposition 13. In the past 30 years, the voters have enacted many ballot measures that lock in spending and tax decisions, leaving the Legislature with less wiggle room for making adjustments.

Another key factor in producing large budget gaps is that California’s fiscal system has not kept up with the new economy. The state today relies too heavily on volatile personal income taxes and capital gains as revenue mainstays. We also focus revenue collections narrowly on a state sales tax for goods even as we have moved to a service-based economy. We dramatically lowered the property tax and vehicle license fees without indentifying sources for replacing the money or lowering spending. Efforts to improve government efficiency and create a rainy day budget fund have remained on hold for years.

However, there is a silver lining in the current fiscal crisis. Recent polling by the Public Policy Institute of California finds that Californians are, for the first time, amenable to lowering the two-thirds majority vote for the state budget and taxes. This shift in opinion comes just five years after voters soundly rejected a ballot measure that would have changed the two-thirds threshold to 55 percent.

Currently, a flurry of activity is springing up around reform and restructuring proposals. Today, business and civic leaders will gather in Sacramento to discuss plans for a state constitutional convention that could overhaul the entire governance system. The Legislature will soon hold informational hearings on reforming the initiative process. Moreover, the governor and Legislature have convened a bipartisan commission on tax reform, which is scheduled to provide its recommendations by April 15.

In 2003, the budget crisis focused Californians on changing their political leadership. This time, under a much more severe economic downturn, Californians are attacking the state’s fiscal problem in another way – with a multitude of reform plans. Last fall, voters surprised the political establishment by passing an independent redistricting measure. Now, fiscal proposals and an open primary measure are headed for the ballot as part of the budget agreement. Will these reforms lead to a more efficient, effective, and responsive government? Stay tuned. Given the burst of creativity and the desire for change, California is becoming an incubator for innovati

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NEWS: CSA Announces Partnership With Art California, A Major Internet Resource

The CSA has partnered with Art California, a major internet resource for the arts across the state. Judy Malloy, a journalist on and advocate for the arts, has managed the Art California site since 2004, compiling thousands of links related to film, painting, music, museums, archives, writers in the web directory portion of the site. She has also maintained a significant calendar on events across the state.

Art California is an achievement that will benefit CSA members and constituents. Ms. Malloy will collaborate with Aaron Wilcher, the CSA blog editor, to keep the CSA informed on news, events, and resources on California arts through our calendar and news page. This, in turn, will inform our partnership with the H-California discussion network.

We encourage you to visit her site and use it in your research, education, and writing projects.

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NEWS: CSA Announces Partnership With the H-California Discussion Network

The CSA and H-California (Humanities Discussion Network, California) are proud to announce a new partnership to advance their missions to serve the communities of scholars, activists, and professionals who rely on scholarship in the humanities for their work. We are joining forces to strengthen the service we provide our communities.

In the last year, the CSA has undertaken a more robust approach to its use of the internet to serve its members by adopting a new website and a blog. These projects will be enhanced by collaborating with the editors at H-California who run a listserv (an email list), and an online forum with resources, through the international Humanities Network,

H-California functions as a way for scholars, activists, and nonprofit professionals to communicate about scholarly projects about California. Many of the postings are book reviews, calls for papers, event announcements, queries for projects, new resources, and so forth.

The CSA will collaborate with H-California in the following capacities:

* Shared news items, syndicated between the CSA blog and the H-California listserv.

* Promoting resources, events, and projects between the two resources.

We strongly encourage CSA members and our community to join the H-California listserv, an automated email discussion board of all news and events related to humanities scholarship in California. The CSA will list all our news, events, blog postings, and official communication on the H-California listserv.

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ANTHOLOGY: 1 in 4 Drop Out of High School in California

An LA Times editorial reported that 30% of Latinos and more than 40% of African Americans do not complete high school in California.

Howard Blume and Mitchell Landsberg gave an overview in the LA Times of the figures, the data gathering, and a hint of the political wrangling.

In early 2006, Mitchell Landsberg wrote a lengthy series of think pieces for the LA Times called, “The Vanishing Class.”

Dana Hull and Sharon Naguchi reported on the state’s data for the Mercury News and the South Bay Area stats.

Nanette Asimov gave the report for the Chronicle and included a searchable stats finder for Bay Area schools.

KQED’s Forum hosted a discussion on the issue when the reports were coming out around July 19. The discussion included an official from San Francisco Unified and state superintendent Jack O’Connell.

The California Dropout Research Project at UC Santa Barbara’s School of Education has resources and news.

The Policy Analysis for California Education at UC Berkeley published a report explaining their methods of data gathering and processing. The report is a collaboration among several of the state’s urban school districts: Long beach, LA, San Francisco, San Diego, and Fresno.

You can easily search stats at the CA Dept. of Education by ethnicity and grade.

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ANTHOLOGY: California Fires: Maps, Photos, and Resources

Photo by Vern Fisher, Monterey County Herald. Because the situation is so volatile, I chose not to include news items in the following summary, except a couple audio reports–ed.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has up-to-date information on the fires, including info by county. The map below is linked to from this page.

The USDA Forest Service has a daily map of active fires burning nationally. The regional map of the West is here.

Here is an interactive map of the fires in the state from the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

UC Berkeley’s Center for Fire Research and Outreach has some good resources, including news and an etensive links page to local and national resources.

The University of California Press recently released this primer on California fire by David Carle, part of their California natural history guides series.

The UC Press also recently published Living with Fire: Fire Ecology and Policy for the Twenty-first Century, by Sara E. Jensen and Guy R. McPherson.

Amazing images at from a Chico paper photographer and a Monterey County paper photographer.

The National Geographic had this photo essay by Mark Thiessen from the 2007 fire season in the West.

NASA Earth Observatory, Natural Hazards satellite images, updated twice daily.

NASA satellite images of fires in Southern California in October and November 2007.

6/27/08 NPR National report on California wildfires. Interview with a man from Big Sur who had to evacuate his home.

The California Report gave an overview on 6/24/08 and remembered the Angora fire in Lake Tahoe of one year ago.

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CALL for Submissions/Proposals: California Council for the Humaniteis Oral History and Documentary (Deadlines July 1 and Oct. 1)

The California Council for the Humanities offers grants in three areas: the “California Stories” oral history grant, the California Documentary Project, and the Youth Digital Filmmakers. They are currently accepting submissions for the documentary and oral history projects.

Youth Digital Filmmakers is our grant line supporting projects that engage California youth in creating short films about how they see California. Eight projects received funding in June 2007. The films will be screened in spring 2008. The program is part of the Council’s youth-based campaign, “California Stories: How I See It.

The California Story Fund is our grant line supporting public humanities projects that bring to light new and compelling stories from California’s diverse communities. The guidelines for the July 2008 round of funding for the California Story Fund are now available. An online application will be posted on June 2, with proposals due July 1

The California Documentary Project supports documentary film, video, radio and new media projects that explore and interpret subjects relevant to California’s past, present or future. Applicants may apply for a Research and Development Grant, a Production Grant, or a New Media Grant. The deadline for each grant is October 1, 2008.

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NEWS: May Day in California: A Snapshot

Louis Sahagun and Ronald D. White reported in the LA Times on the International Longshore and Warehouse Union’s (ILWU) West coast work stoppage yesterday in protest of the Iraq war.

Watch and listen to Democracy Now‘s report on the ILWU’s West coast shutdown.

Mike Rhodes’ reported and took photographs for IndyBay on a march in Fresno.

Swati Pandey commented on the last two May Days in LA in the LA Times.

Swati Pandey reviewed LA Times editorials from May Days past.

Joel Rubin and Anna Gorman reported for the LA Times on LAPD’s preparation training for May Day protests.

LA Times blog tracked the hour by hour protests and gatherings: many reports remark on the small turnout this year in LA.

Truthout‘s report on the May Day violence and staff shakeup in the LAPD last year, 2007. Wikipedia has a report and a large newspaper bibliography of LA’s May Day last year.

David Swanson reported for the California Chronicle on the ILWU’s May Day work stoppage and the history of the May Day’s origins from 1886 Haymarket Revolt: “Watch this video. Clarence Thomas, National Co-Chair of the Million Worker March Movement and Executive Board member of International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 10, spoke on April 24th, 2008, at the Iraq Town Hall meeting, in the Grand Lake Theater, Oakland, CA. The ILWU has committed to blocking ports on May 1st in opposition to the occupation of Iraq.”

Chronicle staff writers reported on May Day in the Bay Area. The big story is the ILWU’s work stoppage in protest of the war in Iraq.