Update on Project Activities
This week was one of the less intensive weeks of our quarter so far, as we did not take another trip down to Salinas. However, we have not let the project out of our working memory; we have been fleshing out our final survey draft and working out how to incorporate our potential GIS mapping technology without using a digital survey (we decided last week to use a physical handout as opposed to a Google form due to potential lack of residents’ cellular data). Jonathan suggested that we may be able to organize a conference call with current planning in order to add to our wealth of knowledge regarding the housing layout and zoning of the Alisal. However, as we all know, it is difficult to coordinate schedules, so we may not end up having this conversation. This is not a large issue at all, though, especially since we have so fortunately spoken to a wide variety of stakeholders, community members, and officials already. Today, two of our group members (and Emmanuel) took a trip to visit Professor Carol’s home in Carmel, where we enjoyed refreshments, a scenic tour of the residential area, and a home-cooked dinner.
What We Observed and Learned
Though we didn’t visit Salinas, our visit to Carmel shed a lot of light on our understanding of housing trends, historical segregation, and further motivated us about the significance of our work with the Alisal. In our residential tour of Carmel, Carol narrated comparisons and contrasts between her hometown and Salinas, as an expert of both regions. Both Carmel and Salinas feature very dense housing conditions with minimal, if any, space between units. However, the population density can not equate. As a beachy, wealthy, heavily- tourist destination, many of the homeowners purchase their beautiful properties, but leave it vacant for a majority of the year to live in their primary homes until the summer season. Homeowners have the privilege here to purchase 10 million dollar properties, tear them down, and rebuild them to be “quirky”, unique, and custom-designed. There is no underdevelopment, the small and windy roads are deemed “adorable”, houses are built around standing trees, parking is easy to find, the downtown area is packed with expensive retail stores and exclusively local restaurants- all clearly different characteristics that are or have ever been seen in Salinas. Why? As Carol articulates, “White people lived here on purpose.” Schools were made to segregate white children away from Italians and Mexicans. Schools were made to segregate white children away from minority residents that get pushed to marginalized locations, like the Alisal.
Critical Analysis/Moving Forward
It is not fair that some communities, such as Carmel, can live in such luxury while residents, in places like the Alisal, work to pack multiple families in rundown, substandard structures. With our understanding of the historical segregation that prompted this division, we have that much more passion and empathy moving forward with our work assessing the current housing conditions in Salinas. Everyone in our group is invested in our project and in supporting our community partners, which is definitely a huge, if not crucial, element to its success. We are grateful to be working with people like Carol and Jonathan who have clearly laid out why Salinas is a location worthy of attention, worthy of research, and worthy of community-based service. Moving into Week 7, we anticipate several busy meeting times, as we have to actually settle on a final survey, training module, and funding analysis, but this is work that we are ready and able to see to fruition.