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City Rising

City Rising: The Informal Economy

From the beginning of our nation’s history our laws, institutions and social norms have contributed to the creation of a segmented or dual economy. Many people — including people of color, women and immigrants — were excluded from the benefits of society, forcing them to find alternative ways to make a living in a parallel economy. Women stayed home or found employment as domestic workers and cooks, immigrants created ethnic enclaves and opened small businesses to meet each other’s needs, African Americans moved north in search of opportunities, and Native People struggled to survive on reservations.

Today, this informal sector is expanding, becoming more prevalent and permeating every aspect of our economic life. As economists and politicians grapple to fully understand the nature, growth and prevalence of the informal and “gig economy,” pathways of economic entry to those who have been denied access becomes imperative to the health, growth and well-being of our communities.

"The Informal Economy" follows four California workers facing structural discrimination but fighting to change policy and improve upward mobility for their communities. We follow the lives of a street vendor in Boyle Heights, a truck driver in Long Beach, a farm-working family in Coachella and an organizer in Oakland fighting for jobs for formerly incarcerated people.

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Full Episodes
Season
People marching during the Oakland teacher strike. | Image from "City Rising: Youth & Democracy"
Episode
City Rising

S3 E1: City Rising - Youth & Democracy

This third season of the “City Rising” series will demystify the role and work of youth organizations in California, demonstrating how young people are organizing their communities to participate in public policy and make lasting change.
Aerial view of Los Angeles
Episode
56:38
City Rising

S1 E1: City Rising - Gentrification and Displacement

City Rising shows how gentrification is deeply rooted in a history of discriminatory laws and practices in the United States.
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Episode
15:44
City Rising

E1: Legacy

From the displacement of Native peoples to the enforcement of Jim Crow, the history of in U.S. land policy and practice is a history of inequities.
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Episode
14:15
City Rising

E2: Resilience

Communities that have historically been disinvested, such as Boyle Heights, Santa Ana and East Oakland, have established rich community networks, informal economies and culture.
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Episode
13:52
City Rising

E3: Return to the Cities

Cities have become more entrepreneurial, seeking private investment that fuels large-scale gentrification.
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Episode
15:29
City Rising

E4: Impact

Laws that favor property owners and real estate developers have left many residents without a safety net to protect themselves from displacement.
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Episode
16:54
City Rising

E5: Mobilization

As more tenants face displacement, they are recognizing their power in numbers and creating a “renter nation” movement advocating for their right to property and equitable development.
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Episode
15:13
City Rising

E6: The Future

As more people realize they will never be homeowners, renters are thinking about their rights and refusing to yield decision-making to owners and developers.
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