Spotlight CA – The California You Don’t See on Postcards

“I believe in the California Dream. To me, it’s the idea that if we work hard and do our best, we can create a better future for our children. Because everybody in California, no matter their means, deserves justice – the right to make a living wage and raise a family, the right to clean air and water, and the right to good public schools and access to higher education.”

-Tom Steyer, business leader and philanthropist

On March 4, adjacent to a soggy but lively First Friday crowd, NextGen Climate hosted the premiere of a groundbreaking documentary web series entitled “Spotlight CA” at the New Parkway Theatre in Oakland.  NextGen Climate is a locally based environmental advocacy organization founded by Tom Steyer.  In 2010, Tom and his wife, Kat Taylor, pledged to contribute most of their wealth to charitable causes during their lifetimes. That same year, Tom worked to defeat Proposition 23, an attempt by the oil industry to roll back California’s plan to reduce pollution and address climate change.

Steyer, who continues to serve as NextGen Climate’s President, recently recruited filmmaker and comedian Kiran Deol to shed light on the true impacts of California’s drought on agriculture.  Deol proved to be a strategic pick because she deftly interviewed farmers, scientists, activists, and Central Valley residents in an informative yet periodically light-hearted way that drew a more complete picture of the crisis than most Californians see in their daily lives.

Clean safe drinking water is a luxury that not all Californians currently enjoy.  Furthermore, without reliable irrigation water, crops are suffering and in some cases farmers are resorting to using oilfield “produced water,” or water that is a byproduct of the extraction process.  This is unregulated and the human health impacts are unknown.  With California agricultural products exported worldwide, scientific research is needed to not only better understand the anthropogenic causes of the drought itself, but also the possible ramifications of irrigating with oilfield produced water.

Following the film screening, Steyer moderated a panel with representatives from the Union of Concerned Scientists, Green For All, and Communities for a Better Environment.  The common thread of their remarks was for stronger policy and broader advocacy of scientific research to combat widespread drought complacency.  In fact, a Spotlight CA Toolkit is coming soon to empower California residents to be stronger advocates!

Attendees sure left with food for thought that rainy evening.

For more information and to check out the document web series, visit:


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