By Lisa Morehouse
About 40 miles from the Southern California resort town of Palm Springs is an abundant agricultural region, the Eastern Coachella Valley. It’s in the middle of a desert, but because of irrigation, the land there is rich.
Most of the people who live there are not.
The economy depends on the labor of the region’s farmworkers, many of whom struggle financially. For years, this desert valley has also been known as another kind of desert: a data desert. Though many here know the area is rife with environmental hazards and social vulnerabilities like poverty and limited English-proficiency, there hasn’t been plentiful information about environmental risks, air quality, or residents’ social capital and resources. Without data identifying problems, it’s difficult to make a case for improvements.
But a new report released Wednesday documents the overlap of environmental and social access problems in the Eastern Coachella Valley. Revealing the Invisible Coachella Valley analyzes public data tracking environmental issues (including pollution, air quality, and water quality) and overlays that information with data on residents’ social and economic resources (such as poverty rates, education levels, unemployment, and health). Continue reading