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Grateful for rich stories, experiences


As Thanksgiving approaches, here are some things I’m grateful for:

  • I’m grateful for the many San Joaquín Valley residents who have invited me into their homes and lives, and shared their stories. Their stories have the power to change lives.
  • I’m grateful to have met health, environmental and social advocates who fight tirelessly for improved conditions in this region. Their commitment is inspiring.
  • I’m grateful for the opportunity to have visited communities across this region. I can now tell you a story about most communities along Highway 99.
  • I’m grateful to have learned about the Valley’s rich and diverse cultures.
  • I’m grateful to the supporters and readers of this blog, especially those who attended its birthday parties at La Reina de Michoacán.
  • I’m grateful for these past four years at Vida en el Valle, and 2.5 years as Vida’s community health reporter. Nov. 20 will be my last day here. After this, you can always reach me via Twitter.

Sharing paletas – and our concerns about health and the environment

Last Friday, we celebrated Harvesting Health’s second birthday with paletas from La Reina de Michoacán.

But the event was more than a chance to dig into Fresno’s best ice cream. It was also an opportunity for friends of this blog, and health and environmental advocates, to come together, in real life, to discuss how community health and environmental justice issues impact their daily lives.

To foster this discussion, I wrote simple, personal questions about health and the environment on index cards. After savoring their paletas, party guests picked a card, and then wrote their answers on a white board.

Below are their answers, in their own words.

What community health issue makes you tick?

Paleta: pineapple

Paleta: stawberries and cream

Paleta: pistachio

Paleta: stawberries and cream


Name one change you would like to see in our community health or environment.

Paleta: mango and chile

Paleta: mango


Camille, Phoebe and Angelica
Paleta: coffee, cookies and cream

How does the environment impact your health?

Paleta: guayaba

Paleta: coconut

What have you done to improve your health, or the health of our community?

Paleta: strawberry

Paleta: chocolate


Paleta: yogurt and fruit

What have you done to improve our local environment?

Paleta: pistachio

Thanks to everyone who made it to the party, and thanks for supporting health blogging in the San Joaquín Valley! And thanks to La Reina, for providing the sweet treats. If you missed the party, drop me a note, and we’ll meet up for a paleta in the future!


You’re invited: Help me celebrate Harvesting Health’s 2nd birthday!

Can you believe it has already been two years?

In June 2010, I launched Harvesting Health, as part of my community health reporting fellowship at Vida en el Valle. Since then, I have written 117 posts – more than one a week for two years.

Through this blog, readers have:

Now I want to hear from you. What have you enjoyed reading about on Harvesting Health? What would you like to read more about?

In keeping with tradition, I will be celebrating Harvesting Health’s second birthday next Friday, June 8, at 3:30 p.m., at Fresno paletería La Reina de Michoacán.

Come for the fantastic paletas (did somebody say strawberries and cream?) and stay for the informal discussion about community health and environmental justice. It’s on me – especially if you are open to sharing your health and environmental goals, for an upcoming Harvesting Health feature!

RSVP by leaving a note in the comments section below – or by sending me a tweet!

Thanks for supporting community health blogging in the Valley!

Thanks again to everyone who joined me on Friday at La Reina de Michoacán to celebrate Harvesting Health’s first birthday!

Here are some highlights of the event:

BEST CONVERSATION: Someone asked me why I would celebrate a health blog’s birthday at a popsicle and ice cream shop. Here were my answers:

  1. It’s other social, environmental, and economic factors – and not a celebratory paleta –  that are causing the obesity and diabetes epidemics in the San Joaquín Valley.
  2. These paletas are made from 100 percent fresh fruit! In a 2009 interview, the owner of La Reina told me he goes to México every two years to buy about 30,000 pounds of fruit directly from orchards.
  3. Buy local!

MOST POPULAR FLAVOR: Strawberries and cream seemed to be the most popular flavor among Harvesting Health’s friends. Just viewing this picture by James Collier, of the website TasteFresno and blog Foie Gras and Flannel, convinces me to try it on my next visit.

MOST MEANINGFUL MOMENT: I was excited that so many friends joined me at La Reina. But I was particularly moved to see that two women came from a community an hour away in order to celebrate with a paleta. As they were leaving, they told me, “Rebecca, you come to all of our events, so we thought we would come to one of yours.”

Didn’t make it to the fiesta? Hopefully we can meet for a paleta soon – it’s going to be a long, hot summer here in the San Joaquín Valley!

Special thanks to James Collier for the great photos.

You’re invited… to celebrate a year of community health blogging!

One year ago this month, I launched this community health blog, Harvesting Health.

Happy Birthday, Harvesting Health!

When I launched the blog, I envisioned it as a place where I could shine light on the community health issues impacting Latinos in the San Joaquín Valley. I hoped that through the blog – and other forms of social media, including Twitter and YouTube – I could foster discussion of important community health issues.

To celebrate the blog’s first year, I’m taking the discussion into real life – to the Fresno paletería La Reina de Michoacán, to be exact. Join me on Friday, June 10, at 3:30 p.m. for a sweet, icy treat (it’s on me!) Let’s talk about the community health issues that impact or concern you. Or just come out to say “¡hola!”

Will you be joining me? If so, let me know by leaving a message in the comment section below. In your message, please describe what issues you have enjoyed reading about, or what you’d like to learn more about in the next year.

If you don’t live in the Fresno area, leave me a message in the comment section, and I’ll be sure to meet you for un helado when I’m in your area!

Top picture: Gabriel Alvarez, owner of La Reina de Michoacán, prepares an ice cream sundae cone for this blogger/reporter. La Reina is located at 720 E. Belmont Ave.