About one hour south of the wealthy Silicon Valley, and twenty minutes east of the affluent Monterey/Carmel area, home of the famous Pebble Beach Golf Course, sits the agricultural city of Salinas. The city sits at the head of a fertile valley – a part of the country brought into America’s consciousness through the stories of John Steinbeck. Along with an abundance of other crops, 80% of the nation’s lettuce and artichokes are grown here. Every day, Americans eat produce that is handpicked by immigrant farm workers in this area, but few understand the challenges the farm workers and their children face.
On the east side of Salinas, in a neighborhood known as Alisal, deplorable housing conditions and gang violence are part of daily life. Alisal is 92% Latino with a per capita annual income of $11,917. Despite the challenges there are big changes happening in the community and a sense of renewal and pride. Young people are surviving and thriving. This documentary profiles the children of immigrant farm workers living in Salinas. Without resources, and sometimes undocumented, their future is often uncertain, but their hope and resilience is abundant.
This film helps viewers understand a community that is often misrepresented in the media. News stories focus on gang violence, often marginalizing the lives of those who work in the fields and their children. The film brings to light the systemic causes of the problems in East Salinas and highlights the successes and hopes of this community. The Salinas Project is an expanded exploration of the lives of four young people who are overcoming the social, political and economic constraints that confront many Latinos in America.
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