Nestled at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California's rich San Joaquin Valley, Lindsay historically has depended on seasonal agricultural production and processing, with citrus and olive growing as the local mainstay. As the region grew and developed, however, many downtown businesses moved to area malls, and low-income migrant workers settled in Lindsay, resulting in a major ethnic shift from Anglo to Hispanic. Faced with a decaying downtown, a stagnant tax base, an increasingly needy population, and an agriculture-dependent economy, Lindsay began to fight back in 1986, establishing a downtown redevelopment project and founding Healthy Kids-Healthy Lindsay to spearhead education on cultural diversity and deliver health and social services to needy families.
By the late 1980s, Lindsay was on track toward economic and social prosperity. But in December 1990 the community was hard-hit by a rare freeze, followed by the loss of several major local employers. As temperatures plummeted for days into the teens and twenties for as long as 15 hours, oranges froze on the trees. The community's greatest industrial asset was destroyed overnight. Fifty-seven percent (57%) of Lindsay's population was out of work.
Lindsay's recovery is a story of neighbors pulling together in time of crisis and, later, of strategic efforts to broaden the local industrial base and improve the quality of life.