The Inland Empire can seem more like a lost kingdom, hidden in the smog-filled shadow cast by neighboring Los Angeles, which sits to the west. But within that shadow is a place with its own identity and a story the rest of the nation should hear.

It’s a place that’s ground zero for some of the greatest challenges that families face in the 21st century. The Inland Empire’s two counties are packed with low-wage jobs in warehouses that are spreading like clover across the beautiful and arid landscape, also blanketed with pollution from the trains, planes and trucks that fuel that work. The scourge of mass incarceration also thrives in this arid region, which is home to 11 federal, state and county correctional facilities.

But the intersection of jobs that can’t sustain families, pollution that sickens them and a criminal justice system that targets them is also one of the reasons the Inland Empire is a hub for solutions and hope.

Read more at Marguerite Casey Foundation