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Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Marches took place around the nation on Saturday to honor the victims of last month’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida. The march in Fresno drew crowds from around the Central Valley to Fresno High School.

 

Yasmin Mendoza is the twenty-one-year old community college student who led the event. She says the march and their movement isn’t about party politics.

 

“I think that safety is a universal issue that affects everyone no matter your political party,” says Mendoza.

 

Flickr user Lens Scratcher (CC BY-ND 2.0)

The holidays are big here in the San Joaquin Valley. One of the most conspicuous examples is Christmas Tree Lane, two miles of lights and music that draw tens of thousands of visitors to central Fresno each year. Big as it is, though, it’s the little things that keep Christmas Tree lane running smoothly. In particular, this nightly ritual keeps the lights on.

Laura Tsutsui / KVPR

Chinatown is one of Fresno's oldest neighborhoods, and it's now facing changes and challenges. Two of the state's highest profile projects, high-speed rail and cap-and-trade, call the neighborhood ground zero. We spoke to business owners old and new to hear what they have to say about all the activity in a story on Valley Edition. The videos below include more thoughts from business owners mentioned in the story, and other voices from Chinatown.

PHOTOGRAPHS BY TEXTLI GALLEGOS, 18, LAS FOTOS PROJECT / California Sunday Magazine

The San Joaquin Valley has a rich boxing tradition, dating back generations. Before he ran a popular bar in downtown Fresno, Young Corbett III was the world welterweight champion in the 1930’s. Today, Avenal’s Jose Ramirez is one of the sport’s rising stars. But at a gym in Southeast Fresno, local teen boxer Sandra Tovar is already at the top of her field, and has her sights set on an even bigger goal – the U.S. Olympic team, and the 2020 Tokyo summer games. 

Temperatures in the Central Valley are dropping as fall gives way to winter. But for many families that also means enduring another winter in substandard housing, a problem that the City of Fresno says it has been working to fix since the passage of a new rental inspection ordinance in February.

That ordinance was supposed to set up a process for city inspectors to check most rental housing units in town to build a database and make sure living conditions are healthy and safe.

A new chapter in the history of a long-neglected Fresno neighborhood could be just around the corner. Some residents in southwest Fresno say they are seeing a critical mass of plans falling into place to unlock the neighborhood's long trapped potential. The approval of the Southwest Fresno Specific Plan, moving the Darling meat rendering plant, and the expected influx of tens of millions of dollars in state development funds have all been approved this year. And some believe this confluence of events will be the tipping point toward growth and revitalization.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

You’ve probably heard of a school library, public library, or even a toy lending library, but what about a human library? A local community college held its first event of this kind, where readers take out much more than books.

Browse the shelves at a more typical library and you’ll find titles like Good Night Moon, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and The Grapes of Wrath. At a Human Library, though, these are the books: Danny Kim, a genocide survivor; Briana Sawyer, a black student; and Bertha Reyes, an immigrant.

Ezra Romero

Our series of first-person audio postcards asked a variety of Fresno residents to share their thoughts about the the removal of downtown's Fulton Mall and the re-opening of Fulton Street. Jordan Gustafson lives in the tallest building in Fresno. It's called the Pacific Southwest (or Security Bank Building) and its front doors exit onto Fulton Street. She's a Clovis native, but she moved to Fresno after living in New York and San Francisco. She loves that she can bike to work at Bitwise Industries.

Ezra

Our series of first-person audio postcards asked a variety of Fresno residents to share their thoughts about the the removal of downtown's Fulton Mall and the re-opening of Fulton Street.  Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Company owner Michael Cruz hopes that more bars and pubs like his will make a home on Fulton Street and bring back the nightlife. He is concerned about the time between now and when the street is fully established. He says people need to be reminded that things are taking place in downtown. 

Our series of first-person audio postcards asked a variety of Fresno residents to share their thoughts about the the removal of downtown's Fulton Mall and the re-opening of Fulton Street. This edition features community activist Sandra Celedon, who is a lifelong Fresno area resident and grew up shopping on the mall. She worries that by turning the page, Fresno could lose what made the Fulton Mall the heart of downtown. Celedon says business owners of color shouldn't be priced out of doing business on the new Fulton Street. 

Kerry Klein/KVPR

Our series of first-person audio postcards asked a variety of Fresno residents to share their thoughts about the the removal of downtown's Fulton Mall and the re-opening of Fulton Street.  Raul DeAlba and his family own a number of businesses on Fulton Street. He has seen the mall shift and change and is ready for a new chapter.

Kerry Klein/KVPR

Our series of first-person audio postcards asked a variety of Fresno residents to share their thoughts about the the removal of downtown's Fulton Mall and the re-opening of Fulton Street.  Jesus Diaz owns Casa Latina Mini Mart. He says he has been waiting for the street to open and is optimistic about his future.

Kerry Klein/KVPR

Our series of first-person audio postcards asked a variety of Fresno residents to share their thoughts about the the removal of downtown's Fulton Mall and the re-opening of Fulton Street. Desirae Washington opened Take 3 on Fulton Mall months before construction started. Now, with the street open, she is hoping for new life, and possibly a second business opportunity. 

Our series of first-person audio postcards asked a variety of Fresno residents to share their thoughts about the the removal of downtown's Fulton Mall and the re-opening of Fulton Street. Local developer Terance Frazier already has money invested in the future of Fulton Street with his Stadium South Project. He says the city needs to encourage more people like him to make sure there is affordable housing. 

Our series of first-person audio postcards asked a variety of Fresno residents to share their thoughts about the the removal of downtown's Fulton Mall and the re-opening of Fulton Street. Gentrification is a big worry for advocates of the people who currently live and work on Fulton Street. Ashley Warner with Fresno's Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability says Fresno needs to be act now to make sure displacement is kept to a minimum.

Joyce Aiken

Our series of first-person audio postcards asked a variety of Fresno residents to share their thoughts about the the removal of downtown's Fulton Mall and the re-opening of Fulton Street. Artist Joyce Aiken was one of the artists who helped craft the Fulton Mall's signature look five decades ago. She helped design the mall's iconic mosaic benches in 1964. More recently she was part of a group that sued the city, attempting to stop the Fulton Street project. Now, she is looking toward the future and a new life for her restored work on the new Fulton Street.

When he died in a tragic bicycle crash in 2015, Ed Lund left a void in both the city's art and cycling communities. Ed was a gifted artist, worked with students at Fresno State and was a passionate cyclist. He died while competing in a road rally in Sonoma organized by cycling great Levi Leipheimer, the GranFondo. Now Ed's friends and family are organizing a rally of their own in Ed's memory.

Amanda Monaco / Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability

 

A new ride share program is bringing the convenience of services like Uber and Lyft to rural valley communities. The service known “Van y Vienen” is aiming to help residents who lack easy transportation options.

The program launched Wednesday in Cantua Creek and El Porvenir, two unincorporated communities in western Fresno County. Both lack grocery stores and medical clinics and have little cell phone service. Until recently, locals without cars have relied on neighbors to get around.

 

Fresno Fair Website

A big change is coming to the Big Fresno Fair.

Starting this year, unaccompanied minors will not be allowed into the fair after 7 o’clock on Friday and Saturday nights.

Stacy Rianda with the fair says the change of rules is in reaction to occasional violence that has broken out at the fair in recent years.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

A few weeks ago, the Fresno Police Department busted a sex trafficking ring among the Bulldog Gang—unfortunately, only the latest of many sex trafficking cases uncovered recently in the Valley. This kind of crime is likely what comes to mind when you think of human trafficking—but another kind of trafficking also occurs in the Valley, sometimes in plain sight, and law enforcement officials worry it’s more common than anyone knows.

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