Where you live can be life-changing. For the century and a half that the Central San Joaquin Valley has been urbanized, policies and investments in infrastructure have created vast differences in opportunity depending on your neighborhood. A person who lives in Fresno’s Lowell neighborhood, north of downtown, has an average life expectancy of 70.4 years – 15 years less than a person who lives just a few miles north in Fresno’s Fort Washington neighborhood.
Fresno is, in many ways, at the forefront of many changes occurring in both California and the United States. As one of the youngest and most diverse cities and regions in the U.S., we are ground zero for what one potential future of the country could look like in twenty years. We are one of California’s fastest-growing regions, yet we haven’t figured out yet how to harness our growth to better support the communities and neighborhoods that have long existed in the region. Where we build new infrastructure, housing, and services says a lot about what neighborhoods we prioritize the most.
The Fresnoland Lab seeks to investigate, discuss potential solutions, and engage those that have the most at stake in driving the conversation.
Danielle Bergstrom is the policy editor for the Fresnoland Lab and is an urban planner-turned-journalist with over 12 years of experience working on local, state and federal housing, transportation and environmental policy. She has a master's degree in regional planning from Cornell University and a BS in biology from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.
Dympna Ugwu-Oju is the editor for the Fresnoland Lab. She was the full-time instructor of journalism and adviser of Rampage, the award-winning publication at Fresno City College. She has a doctorate in educational leadership from UC Davis/CSU Fresno, a master's in journalism from Syracuse University's Newhouse School and a BA in English from Briarcliff College.
Cassandra Garibay covers housing for the Fresnoland media lab. Cassandra grew up in the San Joaquin Valley and graduated from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. Before returning to the Valley, she covered breaking news, coronavirus and engagement projects at the SLO Tribune, where she won the McClatchy President's Award for assisting in coverage on air quality.
Monica Vaughan is a water and development reporter for Fresnoland. In 2019, she was awarded a McClatchy President’s Award for reporting on the health effects of bad air quality. She has won several awards from the California News Publisher Association for investigative reporting, feature writing and public service journalism.
What we'll do
We’re a team of two editors and two reporters who dive deeper into root causes and potential solutions to these challenges through digital-first storytelling, live video, multi-lingual engagement and events around the Central San Joaquin Valley.
Our goal is to cut through the noise and help explain complicated policies and programs that impact the lives of residents in our communities. Our coverage will focus on stories at the intersection of housing, water, neighborhoods, and inquality in the central San Joaquin Valley. We’ll make sure the stories that matter most to our communities get told, while holding powerful people and institutions accountable.
This is our community, and this is where we live, too. We know a better Fresnoland for everyone is possible – and we want to help make it clearer how we can all work towards that goal.
DO FOUNDATIONS AND DONORS HAVE ANY CONTROL OVER WHAT IS REPORTED? Editorial independence has been a core value at The Fresno Bee for nearly 100 years. We strive to deliver high-impact journalism in the public interest. While we value the support of our funding partners, outside funders have no editorial oversight, approval or influence over the content produced by lab reporters or other members of the Fresno Bee newsroom.
WHAT OTHER NEWS ORGANIZATIONS HAVE RECEIVED FOUNDATION FUNDING? The Seattle Times launched an Education Lab years ago that is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and City University of Seattle. The Miami Herald received support form the Rockefeller Foundation to cover Puerto Rico’s recovery from Maria. The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Vox Media, and other public media such as NPR and PBS have all accepted foundation funding.
WILL THIS EFFORT REPLACE THE FRESNO BEE’S REGULAR REPORTING ON KEY ISSUES IN THE COMMUNITY? No, these are new positions. The Bee will still continue to provide breaking news coverage and cover housing, transportation, water, and infrastructure.
WHAT’S WITH THE NAME, FRESNOLAND? Many regions have nicknames – the greater Washington, DC area is the “Beltway”, greater Los Angeles is the “Southland”, greater Chicago is called “Chicagoland." The San Joaquin Valley is a mouthful, and more precisely describes a much larger place than what we frequently refer to as our region in the greater Fresno area, or the central San Joaquin Valley. So, why not Fresnoland?
Statement of Editorial Independence
Editorial independence has been a core value at the Fresno Bee for nearly 100 years. We strive to deliver high-impact journalism in the public interest. While we value the support and partnership of our funding partners, outside funders will not have any editorial oversight, approval or influence over the content produced by the fellow or other members of the Fresno Bee newsroom.