Welcome to the rest of California.
Ever since Americans have had to define what “rural” means, they have done so simply by saying what it is not. In common usage, rural is any place not populous, not developed, not easily reached by an interstate. Our national authority on demographics, the U.S. Census Bureau, classifies it merely as a remainder: “‘Rural’ encompasses all population, housing, and territory not included within an urban area.” That’s it.
And yet, anyone who has ever left the highway in the Golden State knows that rural California is a place far too diverse to lump into the category “other.” From Modoc County to Raisin City, from the Carissa Plains to the Coachella Valley, the experience is in fact one of diversity and depth. The stories here are about rural California as a world unto itself—not a list of the things it is not, but an exploration of the things that it is.