How to remember 2022 in California? It was a big election year, but it was filled with so much more — old and new.

The old: Homelessness continued to dominate public debate. The threat of wildfires stayed with us, as did the challenges of climate change. And, yes, COVID still hovered over daily life, including schools.  

The new: More activism was organized by labor, wage theft gained more attention and abortion politics took center stage after the U.S. Supreme Court took away the federal constitutional guarantee. And the election brought the most diverse Legislature ever

Here’s a look back, through the work of CalMatters photojournalists and freelance photographers.

Starlyn Darby and her 8-month-old son Zelimir Quarles at Memorial Park in San Leandro. Darby doesn’t produce enough breast milk to feed Zelimir, who is underweight and relies on formula.  When a nationwide shortage began, California couldn’t quickly expand its list of approved formula brands due to federal restrictions, leaving low-income families scrambling to find formula. Photo by Martin do Nascimento, CalMatters
Beverly Moore in front of her daughter’s home in Elk Grove. Moore’s family home in Richmond was taken through eminent domain to make way for a drainage system linked to the Richmond Parkway. The organization Where is My Land aims to help Black families regain property, sometimes decades after a government takes it. Photo by Martin do Nascimento, CalMatters
Namirah Jones, at home with her mom Mia Costley, in Corona in May. Jones has severe autism, as well as an intellectual disability. Tens of thousands of Californians with disabilities require special accommodations for dental care, but only 14 centers in the state can treat them. Photo by Lauren Justice for CalMatters
Striking Kaiser Permanente mental health worker Willow Thorsen and others stage a die-in at the Kaiser headquarters in Oakland in October. In every corner of mental health right now, a similar story is being told: There simply aren’t enough providers. Photo by Martin do Nascimento, CalMatters
The Route Fire burns near Castaic Lake in August. Overall in 2022, moderate weather and well-timed rainstorms in much of California combined to curb the acreage and structures burned. Photo by Julie Hotz for CalMatters
Oscar Tang, 35, watches over kids as they play at Modern Education Family Childcare in San Francisco in January. The center had to close as a precaution after a child tested positive for COVID-19. Photo by Thalia Juarez for CalMatters
Olivia burns sage to bless the “Celebration of Life” memorial for Sage Crawford in February in Nevada City. Sage Crawford was fatally shot by a Nevada County sheriff’s deputy in February 2021. Photo by Rahul Lal for CalMatters
Gov. Gavin Newsom holds a nearly three-hour press conference to unveil his 2022-23 budget proposal in Sacramento in January. Photo by Miguel Gutierrez Jr., CalMatters
Striking UC academic workers picket on the UCLA campus in Los Angeles in November. Photo by Pablo Unzueta for CalMatters
Gov. Gavin Newsom and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom cast their ballots on Nov. 8 at the California Museum in Sacramento. Photo by Miguel Gutierrez Jr., CalMatters
Election workers sort ballots at the Sacramento County voter registration and elections office in Sacramento in November. Photo by Rahul Lal, CalMatters
Fast food workers from across California rallied at the state Capitol in Sacramento in August, urging lawmakers to pass a bill creating a council to set industry wages and workplace standards. Photo by Rahul Lal, CalMatters
Kavon Ward, CEO and founder of Where is My Land, at home in Marina Del Rey in November. For decades Black families have borne the brunt of eminent domain, with many saying they had little or no recourse. Eminent domain still poses barriers to Black homeownership today, contributing to the wealth gap. Photo by Lauren Justice for CalMatters
The state Capitol in Sacramento in August. Photo by Rahul Lal, CalMatters

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