familiar issues and evidence in new and different ways; the tracing of a path toward a larger, more robust and integrated movement for change. But this framing will be presented not as a roadmap or strategic plan, for that would be premature, but simply as challenging questions for Valley leaders to sort through and build on, beginning with our convening in Fresno on November 27, 2007. The results of that discussion, in conjunction with the background research that has been conducted, will set the stage for the next phase of the project, to develop a coordinated action plan. More detailed information about these communities will be available at the convening on November 27th.
a. The Building Blocks of a New Frame for Understanding Unincorporated Communities Our approach to framing the issues and opportunities for change includes four broad elements:
1. Identifying the Communities of Interest. There have been, over the years, several different ways of defining and naming the unincorporated communities. For different reasons, the definitions and names used, whether by local residents or government officials, have not always served to help further research, assessment, and planning to improve conditions in these communities. For example, all the settlements in San Joaquin Valley commonly referred to as colonias are unincorporated but not all unincorporated communities exhibit social and economic conditions associated with colonias. To account for these differences, we have chosen to refer to the subset of San Joaquin Valley unincorporated settlements that meet the criteria for inclusion in this project as “Communities of Interest,” (or COIs). To begin to systematically identify our Communities of Interest, we started with the 122 Census Designated Places (CDPs), the term Census 2000 used to identify unincorporated communities in the eight counties of the San Joaquin Valley. Using an index that sorted CDPs according to key economic and social indicators and their racial and ethnic composition we were able to identify 83 CDPs that fit our criteria of unincorporated settlements with multiple indicators of concentrated poverty—our Communities of Interest. We have augmented this list of 83 COIs with 134 additional settlements that have been identified by various public documents and by the advisory committee to this project. To be sure, as this project continues other unincorporated settlements will be added to the initial set of Communities of Interest we identified in this report.
The Communities of Interest we have identified to date fall into three distinct types of unincorporated settlements, based on their location in relationship to cities. There are 118 “islands,” neighborhoods that may once have been semi-rural but have now been literally surrounded by the city limits of the large and medium-sized cities of the Valley such as Modesto, Visalia, Porterville, or Fresno. Then, there are 35 of what we have labeled “fringe” communities, to indicate that they are on the outskirts of a city that is, in many cases, expanding, but whose borders have not yet