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The Other California

Host Alice Daniel takes you to places that aren’t typically what people imagine when they think about the Golden State — small rural towns in the San Joaquin Valley, rich with stories and unique histories. Places that play a role in shaping not only The Other California, but the entire state.

This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit calhum.org.

"The Other California®" is a registered trademark of the International Agri-Center®, used with permission.

Latest Episodes
  • In this last episode of The Other California, we return to the town where we started, Woodlake. Here, Olga and Manuel Jimenez talk about the legacy of the Bravo Lake Botanical Garden and why listening to the stories of those we see as “the other” matter.
  • A Japanese farming community called Yamato Colony took roots in Livingston in 1907; by 1940, about 70 Japanese families were farming more than 3700 acres in Livingston. Two years later, its residents were sent away by the U.S. government to concentration camps. We meet 97-year-old Sherman Kishi, who returned after the war to grow grapes and then almonds on his farm. We also hear about the legacy of a Sikh family who left India fifty years ago and ended up creating a cultural oasis in Livingston. Plus, sweet potato farmers look back at when their families immigrated from the Azores.
  • Taft was described in 1912 as “perhaps the liveliest town in the state,” a frontier community of the sort that movie fans once expected Spencer Tracy and Clark Gable to brawl in. Of course, it’s changed tremendously since its early frontier years, but one thing remains the same: it’s still an oil town through and through and the people who live here want it to stay that way. In this episode, we meet some of oil’s biggest supporters. And a high school culinary teacher helps students understand each other through local recipes: Native American, Samoan, Oaxacan.
  • In this week’s episode, host Alice Daniel talks to writer and journalist Mark Arax about what it means to grapple with trying to truly understand the place where he was born and still calls home, the San Joaquin Valley. Mark has been called a 21st Century John Steinbeck for his books that pry into the soul of California. His most recent work, "The Dreamt Land: Chasing Water and Dust Across California," is a national bestseller and has been hailed by critics as one of the most important books ever written about the West.
  • Kids in small towns don’t always have enough to do after school but a free boxing gym in Avenal is a place of dreams for many youth including two fourth graders who are training hard to win tournaments. In this episode, we meet Jaylene and Jordan, sparring partners whose love for the sport is infectious. A few old timers in Avenal walk us through the town’s history and a young city manager explains why he returned to improve his hometown after attending a prestigious university.
  • All mayors of small towns need a day job. In Huron, Mayor Rey León, a community organizer since college, runs a non-profit that focuses on making the lives of farm workers better. This episode features his most recent projects including an innovative ride-sharing program called the Green Raiteros. The nationally recognized program uses electric vehicles and primarily benefits elderly farm workers who need to travel to nearby cities for medical care. And an 85-year-old retired school teacher tells us she’s still trying to get a high school in Huron. Right now, students have to take a bus to Coalinga 20 miles away.
  • People come to work in the San Joaquin Valley for many reasons: as refugees, as migrants and as immigrants. And as you’ll see in this episode, they don’t all come to work the land. At the beginning of The Other California podcast, Host Alice Daniel told you about why and how she came to the San Joaquin Valley, specifically Fresno. A lot of listeners related to it and told her their own stories of how they got here. The KVPR news team is emblematic of so many of those histories, plus as you’ll see, they’re great storytellers. So, get comfortable. Sit back, and take a listen. You’ve heard or will hear their reporting on the podcast. Now hear the personal stories of Soreath Hok, Madi Bolanos, Kathleen Schock and Kerry Klein.
  • We leave last week’s Western Stampede behind but return to the town of Chowchilla to find out more about its history from its Dust Bowl migrants to present day immigrants, including the only Yemeni-American family living in Chowchilla. We also meet the 84-year-old grandson of one of the town’s earliest white settlers. His grandparents sold 150 horses and left the cold weather of North Dakota to start a dairy farm in Chowchilla. Their 1910 house still stands. Like many towns back then, Chowchilla had racist housing covenants that kept certain groups of people out. But just a couple of miles from town was a place where Black people could actually buy property. At one point, the Black settlement of Fairmead had the largest single dairy in the state. We find out more about Fairmead’s past and what it can teach us today.
  • The town of Chowchilla has an annual cattle drive that goes straight through the center of town to mark the beginning of the Chowchilla Western Stampede, an event that includes team roping and barrel racing. This episode explores the history of the stampede and introduces listeners to an 87-year-old rodeo star who has competed in the stampede since the early 1960s. She also tells us about her life as a stunt woman in Hollywood where she doubled for movie stars like Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton. And a horse trainer reflects on his 50-year career.
  • The town of Woodlake doesn’t have a stoplight but it does have a 13-acre botanical garden where kids learn about agriculture and earn their community service hours. Locals Manuel and Olga Jimenez created and designed the garden to improve their town and give kids a chance to work in the dirt. This episode also takes listeners to Dora’s restaurant where Mariachi singer and owner Dora Orozco serves Mexican food and entertains guests with her songs. And we delve into why the city embraced cannabis businesses ahead of other towns in the valley. Jennifer Malone explains the work she is doing to keep her Wukchumni language and culture alive.