The Imperial Valley has been trashed, thrashed and otherwise rehashed by the media as an illiterate, unemployed hell-hole in the middle of Southern California’s desert bordering Mexico.
Sure, Imperial County has the highest unemployment rate in the nation at about 30 percent—give or take. And yeah, 41 percent of its adult citizens apparently cannot read and write English, or even Spanish, according to the latest—seven-year-old—report by the National Center for Education Statistics.
Oh, and let’s not forget the New River that carves North America’s most toxic, smelly waterway from Mexico on Imperial County’s southern border all the way up to the equally polluted Salton Sea on the county’s northern border.
Yep! The Imperial Valley is a land of superlatives, alright—the most and the worst. You know things are bad when the Economist takes notice from half a world away. You know things are really bad when a 1,300-page book on the region and its people gets published, and nearly half of the local population can’t even read it.
And yet, the Imperial Valley thrives in the face of economic, climatic and educational odds, and thrives without outside notice.
The Imperial Valley happily hosts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year because it is an oasis from the smog-filled regions of Los Angeles, San Diego and Phoenix, and because it is a unique and beautiful region of the world for visitors from every other corner of the globe.
The Fall 2009 students of the Imperial Valley College journalism program are dedicated to finding and reporting the stories that reflect the valley’s uniquely good qualities—its people, its land, its food, its culture, its wildlife, and every other aspect that makes any other region of the world as attractive and rich as they may be in their own right.
We invite you to experience the Imperial Valley as more than a blip on the world’s statistically negative radars. We invite you to experience the Imperial Valley’s positive aspects.
On behalf of my journalism students,
Imperial Valley College