Looking back at 2023 in California is a lot to unpack.Devastating winter floods
submerged entire towns. Another mass shooting took 11 lives in Monterey Park. Unions in a wide variety of industries flexed their muscles during “hot labor summer.” Gov. Gavin Newsom, in his second term, drew as much attention for his trips around the country and around the globe as for his actions at home. And the Israel-Hamas war and resulting humanitarian crisis in Gaza put politicians on the spot and divided California’s campuses.Reflecting on a year is also about real people affected by the decisions of the powerful — those in search of affordable housing, or waiting for justice in police killings, or hoping for more protection from discrimination or seeking opportunity in a new land. And while issues and politicians may change, a constant is California’s natural beauty — wildflowers in bloom, mountains set in front of sunsets, an unusual rock formation in the middle of a lake.So here’s our holiday gift to you — a selection of the year’s most compelling images by CalMatters photo journalists and contributors. First: Cars are trapped in Planada in January. The town was under evacuation orders after a series of storms flooded the town. Last: A car stops on flooded Lambert Road off Interstate 5 in Sacramento County in January. Northern California was hit by a major rainstorm that caused power outages, landslides and flooding over the New Year’s holiday weekend. Photos by Larry Valenzuela and Miguel Gutierrez Jr., CalMatters/CatchLight Local Gov. Gavin Newsom leaves the stage after delivering a speech at his inauguration for a second term at the Plaza de California in Sacramento in January. Photo by Rahul Lal, CalMatters People mourn outside Monterey City Hall for the victims of a mass shooting that left 11 people dead and 9 others injured at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in January. Photos by Pablo Unzueta for CalMatters Pam Holland holds a photo of her late son Shane Earl Holland in her living room in Tehachapi on April. Photo by Larry Valenzuela, CalMatters/CatchLight Local Cutler residents assess and clean up water damage from their homes in March. Many homes in the area were flooded due to a breach in a nearby levee after a series of strong storms hit the Central Valley. Photos by Larry Valenzuela, CalMatters/CatchLight Local First partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom addresses the media during an event to observe the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade at the state Capitol. In June 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, ending nearly 50 years of guaranteed abortion access for American women. Photo by Miguel Gutierrez Jr., CalMatters A wildflower “superbloom” at North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve in Oroville in April. Photo by Julie A Hotz for CalMatters First: Distant phacelia, common fiddleneck, and other wildflowers in bloom during a “superbloom” in Carrizo Plain National Monument in Santa Margarita in April. Next: A view of Half Dome and the Yosemite Valley from the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail in July. Last: California poppies in a field in Sacramento in April. Photos by Julie A Hotz and Miguel Gutierrez Jr., CalMatters Mono Lake on the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada in May. Environmentalists say it’s past time for California to halt Los Angeles’ diversion of Mono Lake’s tributaries. Photo by Sierra Farquhar for CalMatters Supporters at a Unite Here Local 11 protest hold hands in solidarity in June. Photo by Zaydee Sanchez for CalMatters First: Tammy Rodriguez, an employee with the state Department of Motor Vehicles in San Luis Obispo, in June. Rodriguez has 27 years of state service, including five years in San Luis Obispo. Last: Elise Byun, a member of the women’s gymnastics team, at the University of California, Berkeley in June. Photos by Julie Leopo-Bermudez and Semantha Norris for CalMatters Screen Actors Guild members and Writers Guild of America members picket at the Amazon Culver Studios in Culver City in June. Photo by Julie A Hotz for CalMatters First: Arturo Villanueva is a tractor driver in Oxnard. Villanueva still isn’t working his usual hours because rainy weather delayed planting some crops by at least two months. Next: Mateo Fuentes is a first-generation college student at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut. Last: A worshipper at the Sri Guru Ravidass Temple in Rio Linda. Photos by Julie Leopo-Bermudez, Lauren Justice and Miguel Gutierrez Jr., for CalMatters El Cerrito Mayor Lisa Motoyama outside City Hall in El Cerrito in August. Photo by Semantha Norris, CalMatters First: People fill bags with sand in preparation for Hurricane Hilary at the Bonita-Sunnyside Fire Station in San Diego in August. Instructor Mitchell Schmidt teaches a student to use welding tools during a course at Lakeshore College in Wisconsin in August. Lakeshore College offers courses that practice competency-based education that some California schools are hoping to adopt. Photos by Adriana Heldiz and Larry Valenzuela, CalMatters/CatchLight Local Farmworkers work in a field outside Bakersfield in Kern County on July 25 2023. Photo by Larry Valenzuela, CalMatters/CatchLight Local Marie at her home in Culver City in September. Marie lived at Community’s Child after leaving a domestic violence relationship and fighting a past addition. She now owns her home and has built a new life for herself and her children. Photo by Alisha Jucevic for CalMatters First: Unite Here Local 11 and their supporters rally outside Los Angeles International Airport on Century Boulevard in June. Photo by Zaydee Sanchez for CalMatters. Last: Domestic workers sweep the chalk-written word “Injustice” at the state Capitol in Sacramento in August. Photos by Zaydee Sanchez and Rahul Lal for CalMatters Kaiser Permanente employees picket in front of the Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento location in October. Photo by Miguel Gutierrez Jr., CalMatters Dena Arenas, 31, holds her five-month-old baby, Hanna Paiz, at the Immigrant Defenders Law Center in Los Angeles in September. She and her family immigrated to the United States from Guatemala in June. Photo by Lauren Justice for CalMatters First: Voting booths in front of an altar for Dia de los Muertos during a voter registration event organized by the League of United Latin American Citizens in Tulare in November. Last: Ramon Ruelas at his home in Mexicali in October. After nearly a decade behind bars in California prisons, Ruelas was granted parole in 2019, but was later deported to Mexico. Photos by Zaydee Sanchez and Adriana Heldiz, CalMatters Angelica Vásquez outside her home in San Leandro in November, a day after she says PG&E cut off her electricity due to an unpaid bill. Photo by Manuel Orbegozo for CalMatters First: Raphael witnessed and experienced domestic violence in his mother’s relationship when he was a young teenager. Raphael is now in college and plans on working towards being a dermatologist. Next: Home items in Carolyn Young’s yard on Oct. 26, 2023. Young and Planada residents had to throw out many of their possessions after their homes flooded earlier in the year during torrential rainstorms. Last: Rebecca Luebker, the social science chair of Haas Hall Academy speaks during a CSforALL Summit breakout session. The panelists discussed equitable practices in computer science education at the Oakland Scottish Rite Center in October. Photos Alicia Jecevic, Larry Valenzuela and Emily Steinberger for CalMatters Fraidoon Noori, 24, a migrant from Afghanistan, in Jacumba Hot Springs in San Diego on Nov. 18, 2023. Photo by Adriana Heldiz, CalMatters Hillel, a campus religious group, hosts a rally calling for the release of kidnapped Israelis at UCLA’s Wilson Plaza on Nov. 7, 2023 in Los Angeles. A Shabbat table with place settings represents the seats of those who have been kidnapped by Hamas. Photo by Lauren Justice for CalMatters Protesters calling for a ceasefire in Gaza interrupted the general session at the California Democratic Party convention in Sacramento on Nov. 18, 2023. Photo by Miguel Gutierrez Jr., CalMatters
This article was originally published by CalMatters.
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