Zip Code Economies Season 1 in Photos: People behind the Stories

At a time when the world seems more divided than ever, how can you still build bridges at the community level? That’s the question we set out to answer in Zip Code Economies, a podcast hosted by San Francisco Fed President Mary C. Daly.

What we learned across ten episodes is that the secret ingredient, no matter where you go, is people. People who are willing to band together and create change. People who believe tomorrow can be better than today.

To celebrate Zip Code Economies Season 1, we’re sharing photos and words of hope from some of the most memorable people we met along the way.

Episode 1: Intergenerational Transmission of Hope

Zip code 93622, Firebaugh, California

Ms. Best with sign reading Eagles
Firebaugh High School teacher Ms. Best

High school teacher Ms. Best on growing up in Firebaugh: Oh I loved it, I absolutely loved it. Lived out in the country. I come from a farm family. Drove tractors. Chopped cotton. Did all that. I was one of the first graduating classes of this high school. We didn’t have one when I was growing up. My dad was on the school board and a community leader, and we started this campaign to break away from our neighboring school. We were the first full class to graduate from Firebaugh High School. I have a lot of community pride and investment in this school.

Mr. Sanchez, with President Daly, holds sign reading Amazing
Firebaugh High School teacher Mr. Sanchez with President Daly

Firebaugh High School teacher Mr. Sanchez on making English fun and helping to achieve a 97% high school graduation rate: At the beginning of every year, the very first lesson I teach the kids is, A Rose That Grew From Concrete by Tupac. The rapper. It catches the students off guard. They sort of look at me like, “What the heck? This isn’t the canon. This isn’t what we’re used to. This isn’t everything that we’ve done.” Once I capture their attention, it allows me to speak to them on a more guttural level. After that unit, they’re so engaged that it’s easier for me to pitch the idea of language as power, and their ability to communicate eloquently as power.

Episode 2: Your Current State Does Not Determine Your Future State

Zip code 93622, Firebaugh, California

Firebaugh Police Officer Fernando Moreno holds sign reading Trust
Officer Fernando Moreno, Firebaugh Police Department

Officer Fernando Moreno, Firebaugh Police Department, on the value of education: I was born in Mexico. My family decided that they wanted a better life for their kids, and I’ve been living here since I was nine years old. My dad would get home from work and instill in us, “Get an education.” I went to CSU, Fresno, about an hour away from Firebaugh, and I got my Bachelor’s degree in criminology with an emphasis in law enforcement. I also went for a Master’s degree in Public Administration.

Episode 3: A Leap of Faith

Zip code 84101, Salt Lake City, Utah

Brandon Payne with President Daly
Former SF Fed intern Brandon Payne with President Daly

Former SF Fed intern Brandon Payne on making human connections: [As Mormons], we try to live like we believe Jesus Christ lived. One of his great commandments was, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” We were talking in a previous conversation about family with a capital “F.” I was thinking about neighbor with the capital “N.” Who really is my neighbor and am I actually loving them? What’s the best way to love them?

Episode 4: A New Economic Reality

Zip code 84101, Salt Lake City, Utah

Meg Walter holds sign reading Industrious
Meg Walter from The Beehive

Meg Walter, discussing venturing into the workplace: When I took on this full-time position and said, “I’m going to be going in to work every day,” I was unnecessarily nervous of what others would think. Traditionally, Mormon women have been home with the kids, as the mother, as the homemaker. I was worried that there would be judgment. Instead, I was met with nothing but support from my family, from my grandma even, all of them Mormon. The people in my ward, my church group, they were all so supportive. I don’t know that that would’ve been the attitude twenty or thirty years ago, but it’s definitely the attitude now. We’re making big strides.

Robbyn Scribner holds sign reading Community
Robbyn Scribner from Utah Women & Leadership Project at Utah Valley University

Robbyn Scribner, on flipping the labor force narrative for women in Utah: One of the stories that I was told as a teenager was, “Your most important job is going to be to be a mom, and to be a wife.” For a lot of teenage girls in the state of Utah, that’s still the story they’re hearing, what they’re being taught in their homes and their churches. The problem is, it doesn’t match what’s actually going on. The economic reality of Utah women in the labor force is that the majority of Utah women do work. Utah mothers with school-age kids at home, 75% of those women are in the work force.

Episode 5: Resiliency is a Mindset

Zip code 94303, East Palo Alto, California

Fredrick Alexander, with President Daly, holds sign reading Resilient
StreetCode Academy’s Frederick Alexander with President Daly

Frederick Alexander on shifting mindsets through StreetCode Academy: Actually touching technology and believing you can create it begins with your mind. Begins with this mindset. We don’t just provide the technical skills. We provide the mindset necessary to create products that require technology. If you don’t think you can do it, then you can’t. Thinking you can do it is the beginning of everything.

Episode 6: Loving the Bulldog Way

Zip code 94303, East Palo Alto, California

Pastor Paul Bains, with President Daly, holds sign reading Forgiving
Pastor Paul Bains with President Daly

Pastor Paul Bains on running a shelter in a community surrounded by Silicon Valley tech giants: If I look at this shelter, people rallied around this shelter being in the community. Where before, and if you go to any other communities, it’s like, “Not in my back yard.” But that’s the way we are. We love on people.

Episode 7: Hidden Hawai’i

Zip code 96815, Honolulu, Hawai’i

Kim Gillis-Robello holds sign reading Hope
Hawai’i native Kim Gillis-Robello from Parents and Children Together

Kim Gillis-Robello, talking about the preschool program at the Parents and Children Together at the Kuhio Park Terrace affordable housing development: We set up Preschool in the Park every Monday and Thursday for our families who are in transition or currently homeless. It’s open to the whole community. We start off with our circle time. We do songs. We kind of just get the day started. Then we offer a teach with the parents and their children together. Then we do a parent hui, where we just work with the parents [on job readiness skills and community resources] while the children work with our early childhood family specialists.

Episode 8: Searching for Ohana

Zip code 96815, Honolulu, Hawai’i

Shantel Jones, with President Daly, holds sign reading Unique
Shopkeeper Shantel Jones with President Daly

Shantel Jones, shopkeeper at the Parents and Children Together at the Kuhio Park Terrace affordable housing development, describing what ‘ohana’ means to her: I always sit and I try to get to know [all my customers] on a personal level. I like to talk stories with them. I like to call them by name when they come into the store. Every person that walks through this door is family so you treat them like ohana. When they leave, they leave with more than what they bought and what they came for. That’s the aloha spirit.

Episode 9: An Economy Like Water

Zip code 92102, San Diego, California

Dan Watman and President Daly talk at US-Mexico border
Spanish teacher Dan Watman explains the importance of bilingual education at the California-Mexico border

Dan Watman on teaching Spanish on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border: The economy doesn’t have any borders really. Commerce, in general, can go back and forth without any issue. Multi-national corporations don’t have borders. People do. The people are just trying to follow the economic system. The economic system, it’s just following what’s natural.

Episode 10: Your Zip Code Doesn’t Define Your Destiny

Zip code 92102, San Diego, California

Connie Snowden and Adelita Jasso hold signs reading Caring and Home
Connie Snowden and Adelita Jasso, Parents from Barrio Logan College Institute

Connie Snowden, parent of a Barrio Logan College Institute student, on advocating for her children: One thing that we learn is not to settle. We have the right to follow up with a teacher. We have the right to demand something if it’s needed or required. Raise the hand. Follow up with a counselor, with a teacher, or whomever is necessary to reach the goal.

Interested in checking out the show from the beginning? Need to catch up on an episode you missed? The complete first season of Zip Code Economies is available now on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, and more.

You can also listen and get fact sheets for all of the communities we visited at While you’re there, subscribe to our emails to be in the know when Season 2 is coming your way.

Please note, quotes have been edited for clarity.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the management of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco or of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.