CatchLight Local and CALMatters: A look inside the California Divide Project

© Brian L. Frank, 2017 CatchLight Fellow

© Brian L. Frank, 2017 CatchLight Fellow

CatchLight Local has teamed up with CALMatters to support a visual storyteller as part of the pilot program in the Bay Area. Apply by July 10 at 12pm PST here.

Many Americans struggle today to afford a satisfactory lifestyle, fueling social and political upheaval throughout the country. No place is that more apparent than in California, a diverse nation-state that has America’s highest rates for poverty and income inequality.

Nearly half of California’s 40 million residents are living in poverty or on the brink, with the vast majority in working households. A housing shortage has spiked prices more than 2.5 times the national average and fueled a crisis in homelessness. Alarmingly, nearly two thirds of California residents today say they’d encourage young people to leave. Meanwhile, upper incomes in California are 72 percent higher than the state median, revealing a gap larger than any other state and still growing.

These issues are seen elsewhere, but California is a unique story for several reasons. It has always been America’s laboratory and, for better and worse, it is the seat of the technology revolution that is driving so much social and economic change. It has the world’s fifth largest economy and it is a majority-minority state. It ranks at the top of national measures for poverty and inequality. And its politics have turned deep blue, posing a major test for Democratic solutions.

The Mission

There are two goals for this project: 1: Raise awareness and understanding about the problems and solutions regarding poverty and inequality in California and 2: Establish the working structure and relationships between major California media that will create a more informed electorate by leveraging resources for this and other topics in the future.

The mission of the California Divide is to help Californians better understand and effectively engage with a rapidly changing state in order redirect trends that overly burden too many today and threaten future generations.

The project aspires to create a cohesive body of work that spans a broad narrative including the issues of education, housing, healthcare, technology, population, subsidies, aging and much more. It will be highly accessible by using a variety of print, broadcast, digital and video storytelling formats. It will target key groups with outreach and promotion. It will directly engage audiences with social forums and live events. And it will prioritize its influence on the policy decisions made to address the major issues raised by the project.