or many Californians, their only reference point for the Coachella Valley is the annual music festival which kicks off this week, where tens of thousands of concert-goers from around the world gather to see big-name headliners and party in the desert. But there’s another side to Coachella — the one the locals see.
Thousands of acres of date palms. Early morning dew on the grape vines. A thriving indigenous community. The backyard concerts where local artists have created their own music scene.
And also, high asthma rates. The decaying Salton Sea.
“I want people to know what it's really like, and the issues we're facing. Because it's something that I face, too,” said 24-year-old Bryan Mendez, a reporter with Coachella Unincorporated, where young people write and document the stories of this valley.
Mendez grew up picking grapes with his parents. He still does farm work and construction to pay the bills. But he’s also a talented photographer and filmmaker.
The California Report Magazine's host Sasha Khokha teamed up with Mendez to take a tour of his Coachella Valley, from the orchard where his mom takes a lift 60 feet up in the air to harvest dates, to the local joint where you can eat homemade ice cream made from Mexican pastries.