Obama Visits Fresno To Discuss Drought


Editor’s Note:

When it was announced that President Obama would be visiting Fresno and the Central Valley of California, it became obvious that this visit was long overdue.

The obstacles facing this region extend beyond water politics and the devastating drought that seems endless: high unemployment; a City Council and County Supervisors that have a pattern of rejecting government aid for beneficial projects;  city sprawl that drives a high number of vacancies in central Fresno; a poor public transportation system; educational inequality; pervasive food desserts.

The drought is important. This region produces food that is consumed around the country and world. With Governor Brown and President Obama turning their political attention to the valley, it is important to keep in mind that beyond the consumers and land-owners there are farm workers, truck drivers, mechanics and many others whose livelihoods rest on the agricultural economy of the valley.

We asked some of our youth to respond to Obama’s visit and represent their Fresno to their President in hopes that more and more voices will be heard in the ongoing work being done in the Central Valley.

– Marci Lopez and Tim Haydock


Presidential Visit

On, Friday February 14th, Fresno and the Central Valley will be host to a very special guest: the President of the United States. Discussions around the current drought crisis are expected to take place. There is uncertainty about what exactly should be done about this issue. There are, however, a number of pieces of legislation that address the drought. Obama’s visit will not be open to the public. His unavailability doesn’t seem to be the biggest concern on people’s minds however. Many are bluntly calling the visit a waste of time, saying that they find it hard to believe that Obama can make it rain and calling the visit nothing more than a photo-op.

Despite the amount of criticism expressed, there are a number of people who see this as an opportunity to increase awareness on this key issue. Many community residents have confessed to not even being aware that California was undergoing a serious drought. College student Andy Garcia said, “People need to realize that this occasion has great significance. Not only does this visit highlight a serious issue, it shows people that Fresno is a much more important place than people give it credit for.” We don’t yet know what will come from this presidential visit, but hopefully state and national legislation addressing the problem will be adopted. However, to make sure that we come up with the right solution we need an invested and informed public. Maybe a visit from the President is exactly the motivation we need to start tackling this issue seriously.

– Miguel Bibanco

Open Letter

Dear Obama’s staff that gives the letters to Obama if they are important enough,

My name is Letisha Diane White. I am eighteen years of age and I live in Fresno, California. I understand that you are planning on coming to Fresno on Friday to speak regarding your plans on the drought situation. Although I appreciate you coming to talk about a situation so big as our need for water and lack of it at the moment, I understand that you are incapable of telling the clouds when to give perspiration.

With that being said, while you are in the area I wanted to make you aware of the other problems Fresno is facing. Although I am only eighteen, I have seen a lot in my time, including the first African American president. I do not like what I see and hear. [quote]Fresno has a poor reputation as a community, however it is still a community.[/quote]

Many people my age say that they cannot wait to leave Fresno. Its like people take their experience here for granted. I want to give people a reason to stay here and want to come. I need your help Mr. President. I want to be the change people want to see in this world. If I cannot change the world, I want to spark the fire that does. When I walk down the street or even take the bus to school I see nothing but posers, drug dealers, children with no parents, prostitutes, and schizophrenic patients without money to take medication. Unfortunately the problem is beyond that. Those groups of people in my community that I have listed and the bystanders that watch, they are ignorant to this situation as a problem. They call it hustling. They figure it is a way to get where they want to be in life. The problem with that is that their goal in life is so low because of what they see around them and what they were taught. This is growing to be an epidemic. This is what is going to be instilled in their children because society is who is going to raise them once they realize their parents are still caught up in the so called “hustle”. The people of Fresno have turned crazy. They forgot about the significance of a community and hard work only relying on gambling and the government for help. It is unfortunate because the children now are going to be the ones to build our future generations, but nobody is noticing that. Mr. Barack Obama please take what I am saying into consideration. Fresno is headed downhill because nobody seems to care. I need for our community to wake up and understand that “YOLO” does not just apply with how Drake used it in his songs. We need to make our mark on history, leave a legacy and show our youth that the hard work put in now can change lives for future generations. There is no more time for foolishness and reaching for a goal as low as drug dealing or highest paid prostitute. We need to put our abilities in what is useful and beneficial for our community. Do not pass on doing something for Fresno, do not become like everybody else. Some say Fresno is a place where dreams come and go, I say it is a tool to help the youth know failure is a success story.


Letisha White

Fresno, CA

The kNOw Youth Media
The kNOw works to support and equip young people with the journalism and advocacy skills they need to tell their stories and the stories of their communities.

In 2006, over 25 youth began participating in weekly after-school writing workshops where they congregated in the hallway of a two-story building in West Fresno and learned the essentials of creating media and telling their stories. The group evolved over the next five years and is now proudly recognized as The kNOw Youth Media.

Through our program, we create opportunities for our youth participants, who in turn create long-term positive change in their communities. Our approach weaves youth development and youth media innovation to produce our biannual youth publication, multimedia projects, and community forums.

The kNOw began as a project of New America Media, which was the country’s first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations. In 2018 The kNOw became a project of Youth Leadership Institute.

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