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2018 Rural Justice Summit
UC Merced, California Room
Merced, CA
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*NOTICE* We have sold out all currently available tickets for the Rural Justice Summit! We DO still have tickets available for Borderlands here:

We do anticipate some more Summit tickets being available, so please email Sarah at to be put on the WAIT LIST. We will confirm with you that you are on the list, and as soon as a space becomes available, we will let you know. Thank you for your patience and understanding!


On Wednesday, March 21, 2018, we'll gather at UC Merced for the third annual Rural Justice Summit hosted by California Institute for Rural Studies and UC Merced. This year's theme is "BLOCK BY BLOCK: Taking Local Political Action for Justice in an Election Year." Because of the importance of politics this year, the Summit will focus on tools for organizing at the local level in rural communities.

The Summit will run from 8am-3:30 with snacks and lunch provided.

Following the Summit, we invite everyone to join us across town at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center from 4-7 pm for an evening of storytelling, art and music-- be sure to register for Borderlands of the San Joaquin Valley!

For detailed information on Borderlands, go here:

You can RSVP on this page for one or the other, or BOTH!

Our partners this year again include the Community Alliance for Agroecology and the UC Davis Center for Regional Change.  

Discussion of issues for our communities are being broken up into five different tracks:

*Pathways to Water Justice in the San Joaquin Valley
Presenters: Amanda Fencl, Adriana Renteria, Amanda Monaco
The track will focus on the conditions and possibilities for transformation in disadvantaged unincorporated communities (DUCs) in the San Joaquin Valley. The protection of the Human Right to Water in DUCs is the subject of significant public policy, regulation, and community advocacy. Participants will learn about these change efforts and how they can get involved in meaningful ways on the local regional, and state-wide levels.

*Responding to Anti-Immigration Threats in a Sanctuary State
Presenters: Gail Wadsworth, Blanca Ojeda, Luis Macias, Russell Jauregui
This track will focus on practical responses to deportation threats and local responses to H2A workers.  We will discuss what forms sanctuary takes and how communities are developing sanctuary networks. In addition, we will explain rapid response networks to ICE raids, how this movement is progressing in rural communities and how residents can get involved. And finally, we will discuss the development of legal defense funds in support of people facing deportation and provide tools for people who want to know what they can legally do to support the undocumented.

*Growing a Just and Ecological Food System from the Ground Up
Presenters: Kassandra Hishida, Steven Lee, Rebecca Ryals, Isabel Arrollo, Blong Lee, Karen Schmidt, Angel Garcia
As we address the environmental injustices perpetuated by our current agricultural paradigm, we must also consider our long term vision for the just, equitable, and ecological food system we hope to transition to. Join us for a dialogue & workshop with local community leaders already organizing, practicing, and researching through an agroecology lens.

*Creating Pipelines to Power
Presenters: Genoveva Islas, Sandra Celedon, Vecky Elliott, Mai Thao
We will discuss the various efforts in Fresno to build resident leadership and build a civically engaged population.  In order to break the cycle of inequity we need to build pathways and opportunities for residents to become leaders with decision making poser in their communities whether that is as member of school wellness committees, or planning commissions or even elected office. The workshop will focus on curriculum & real-world strategies.

*Bloc 2 Bloc: Organize your Hood, Barrio, Ze Zog (Youth Track)
Presenters: Crisantema Gallardo, Alicia Olivarez, Marinarde Soto, Reyna Peralta, Jasmine Leiva
This track will create space for young people of color who have been leading campaigns and organizing in rural communities to share their stories and lessons learned. We will also look at why young people of color are consistently left of out of voter engagement programs and strategize on how we can challenge narratives of indifference. Not only can we come out to vote - but we can create field programs and run campaigns that are by us - for us. We will strategize around rural elections and the role that young people can play in registering young people to vote and working and/or volunteering on campaigns.

Here is a brief overview of the day (Check back for regular updates):

8:00-8:45 Registration, Coffee & Pastries
-Imagining America Story Booth open

9-9:15:  Welcome & Opening Talk
"Farms, Prisons, and Water - Colonialism in the Central Valley" Mario Sifuentez, Assistant Professor, School of Social Sciences, Humanities and the Arts, UC Merced

9:15-9:20: Review of the Day
Gail Wadsworth, Executive Director, California Institute for Rural Studies and
Jose Lopez, Communications Associate, Food Chain Workers Alliance

9:20-10:40:  Opening Plenary
Panelists: Genoveva Islas, Kassandra Hishida, Isabel Orrollo, Adriana Renteria, Amanda Fencl, Luis Macias, Marinarde Soto
In a conversational style, representatives from each of the five tracks will give us a taste of the topics they will be focusing on, and tie it all back to this years theme of taking action in an election year.

10:40-10:50: Travel Time to Break-Out Rooms for Tracks

10:50-11:45: Break-out Sessions for Tracks

11:45-12:40: Lunch & Networking
-Imagining America Story Booth open

12:40-1:40: Hands-on Workshops for Tracks

1:40- 2:00 Break & Travel Time Back to California Room

2:00-2:10 Invitation to "Borderlands of the San Joaquin Valley,"
Ildi Carlisle-Cummins, Project Director, Cal Ag Roots

2:10-2:20: Closing Talk, Mindy Romero, Director, California Civic Engagement Project (CCEP), UC Davis

2:20-2:55: Call to Action

3:00-3:30: Socializing over Snacks
-Imagining America Story Booth open

Social Media:
- We'll be tweeting, too, using the hashtag #RuralCAJustice2018
please join in.
-Our twitter account is @CARuralStudies - please follow us!
Join our Facebook event page:


Looking to carpool? Start or join one here:
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UC Merced, California Room (View)
5200 Lake Road
Merced, CA 95343
United States


Arts > Performance
Education > Workshops

Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: Yes!
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!


Owner: California Institute for Rural Studies
On BPT Since: Jan 27, 2016
Sarah Cain
530-756-6555 ext 19

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