News and Insights

Unfiltered In The Inland Empire

Oct 24, 2022

An Inland Empire couple looks out from their patio onto the growing number of logistics warehouses. This photo is part of the Unfiltered IE exhibit at the Garcia Center For The Arts in San Bernardino.

Last April we launched our first ever Listening Post Collective story grant series as part of our ongoing collaboration with community members in California’s Inland Empire. We put out a request for story ideas from local media makers that tied to some of the issues that came up in our original information ecosystem assessment, environmental and community health. We wound up getting around 23 pitches and gave out nine story grants, funding ideas that included short video docs, community information tours, digital archives, a public poster series, and even a full on art exhibit. Here are links to our grantees work. We are so proud of the important work they’ve done. 

  • The high desert town of Hesperia has been talking about a massive expansion for longer than native son and LPC grantee James Dailey has been alive. A version of what’s now known as the Tapestry project was proposed as far back as 1990, and three decades later construction has finally begun on what’s being called Silverwood, a brand new community comprising more than 15 thousand homes and 700 thousand square feet of retail. Dailey, a local journalist in his 20s, has made it his mission to document the impact of all of this on the local environment, digitally archiving photos, planning documents, and journal entries for public consumption. Here’s James’s amazing digital archive. 
  • This Inland Empire writer asked us to use an alias to protect his job. Niño de la Tierra graduated from a local University a few years ago, and wound up taking a job that’s become ubiquitous, both to his friends and family, and to the Inland Empire at large. He began working at a logistics warehouse, and has stuck with it, despite Covid, and despite the long hours and low pay. Here’s his first-person essay
  • Eddie Torres has been exploring the myriad ways government and private infrastructure impact the health of the Inland Empire. It’s part of his work with the Inland Empire Coalition for Immigrant Justice. Lately, he’s been taking Inland Empire community members on what he calls the “Toxic Tours” that features dubious local landmarks like repurposed military bases, which can impact things like local water sources. Here’s a clip from Eddie’s community “Toxic Tour.”
  • Ybarra’s Grocery sits on the corner of Spruce and I streets in San Bernardino, right across from  some BNSF railway tracks. 80 year-old proprietor Raul Raya’s store is dwarfed by the nearby freeway, a project that essentially cut off easy access to his business 60 years ago. “They never thought about the Westside. I think if they would have made exits, when they built the freeway, and thought about it, and if they would have changed that in those years, I think it would have been a different story.” For Raya, it’s too late for more thoughtful transit infrastructure planning. According to reporter Anthony Victoria, planners back then avoided creating freeway access to the West side of San Bernardino. Victoria is exploring a new influx of transit money, more than a billion dollars, to the Inland Empire, and he’s looking at whether the myriad of infrastructure developments will be more community centered. Here’s Anthony’s story

  • The expansion of the logistics industry in the Inland Empire has accelerated the past few years. Redlands, however, has traditionally remained warehouse free. That’s changing as the city looks for a replacement for the citrus industry. Local reporter Becca Spence Dobias has been looking at the city’s foray into allowing some warehouses, almost entirely on the city’s North side. A move which has resurfaced a pattern, some North siders say, of designating projects that impact community health to their side of town. Here’s Becca’s short doc
  • Reporter Melissa Daniels is covering one of the topics of our time, water, and how it impacts the Inland Empire’s high desert. Her story starts in the tiny town of Oasis, where many residents live in trailers and lack safe drinking water, a result of infrastructure disparities that have long plagued the region. But in Daniels report she shows how a slew of federal funds and some new thinking might finally create some equitable access to the region’s most coveted resource, clean water. Here’s her report
  • Researcher Jose Becerra hails from the Inland Empire, and has returned home to document his community’s respiratory issues as part of his doctoral dissertation at Purdue University. “Using customized maps, photos, videos and graphs, I put together an interactive narrative style ArcGIS story map to examine the intersections of pollution, COVID-19 and essential work in the Inland Empire.” Jose also shared his research with the local outlet Frontline-Observer as part of their coverage of IE environmental issues.  
  • Local photographer and writer Sadie Scott was interested in documenting the shift in the Inland Empire from a primarily agricultural industry, where food was abundant, to one where land is mostly coveted as a space to build logistics warehouses, and how that shift in land use has impacted peoples access to healthy food. She interviewed community activists who are trying to innovate new ways of connecting residents most in need to fresh food resources, and captured their images and stories as part of a photo exhibit and a series of community posters placed around the Inland Empire.  Here’s Sadie.
  • The Garcia Center For The Arts has been an amazing community collaborator since the beginning of our work in the IE. We were so happy to partner with them on this story grant series on a unique art exhibit that gave thirteen artists an opportunity to envision public and environmental health through a creative lens. Here’s a link to their exhibit.

Keep an ear out for additional versions of some of these stories on local public radio station KVCR and in the local arts zine The Space/ El Espacio.

A picture of an endangered Joshua Tree on the wrong side of a development fence in the Inland Empire. credit- James Dailey