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California And The American Dream: The Price Of Renewal

Airs Tuesday, February 23, 2010 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Adult students from a variety of cultural and ethinic backgrounds attend classes at a new facility of San Diego Community College in City Heights.

This four-part series, narrated by Academy Award-winning actress Linda Hunt, explores the dynamics of culture, community and identity in one of the world's most diverse regions. In the last 35 years, California, a state with the world's sixth-largest economy, has seen dramatic changes in social, demographic and cultural trends. This series tells the story of the "real" California. Each episode offers an in-depth look at current issues and developments, from changing demographics to new models of civic engagement; from the role of immigrants in neighborhood life to the democratic challenge of the initiative process; and from sustainable agriculture to Native-American gaming and sovereignty.

Supporters of La Maestra Health Clinic, including many who are East African refugees, attend a community meeting to demonstrate their support for an expansion of the services offered.
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Above: Supporters of La Maestra Health Clinic, including many who are East African refugees, attend a community meeting to demonstrate their support for an expansion of the services offered.

This episode examines issues of diversity, development and civic engagement as a single community struggles to rebuild a tattered and declining neighborhood. The story follows the long-term redevelopment of an older, deteriorating neighborhood called City Heights, often referred to as the Ellis Island of San Diego. The community has a rich mix of cultural values and people, including immigrants from Mexico and Latin America and refugees from Southeast Asia and East Africa.

Redevelopment plans have placed the community in an unlikely partnership with businessman and philanthropist Sol Price, the founder of the Price Club, who is widely recognized as the father of the discount warehouse industry, and William Jones, an African-American real estate developer who was the youngest person ever elected to the San Diego City Council.

"The Price of Renewal" explores what is gained and what is lost as a community develops and improves itself through a partnership with public and private entities. What are the challenges of crafting a vibrant urban village from an ethnically, culturally and economically diverse population?

Video

Video Excerpt: California And The American Dream

Above: What are the challenges in crafting a vibrant urban village from an ethnically, culturally, and economically diverse population? This perceptive documentary examines complex issues of community development, philanthropy and civic engagement by chronicling the long-term redevelopment of an older, deteriorating neighborhood called City Heights, often referred to as the Ellis Island of San Diego. The film probes both the potential and the pitfalls of public/private partnerships in addressing the problems of inner city decay, as well as the thorny questions raised by the gentrification of multicultural urban neighborhoods. It was directed by award-winning filmmaker Paul Espinosa.