Another purpose of our meeting on Wednesday was to try to identify the main purpose of our project in relation to the class coursework and discussion. While we are trying to specify the scope of our project, we want to ensure that it complements the ideas of sustainability that we have been learning about in class. For example, one benefit of our project is understanding how the Los Altos can better prepare for a future recession by understanding the main economic drivers and areas of economic improvement within the city.
The Los Altos Economic Development Project is a bit different than the other class projects, such as the Tenderloin project and the Friends of Caltrain project. Our work has been strictly off-site, and we lack many of the intimate conversations and primary resources that other groups might have. However, we also realized that since we are analyzing the data without any previous trips to the city, we are helping ensure that the ideas in the Economic Big Book will be based on objective, non-biased analysis. But we also collectively agreed that incorporating first-hand testimonies does have its benefits and can certainly strengthen and ‘humanize’ our project, so we decided to bring this up at our meeting.
We then later met with Jennifer for our weekly meeting; we made sure that we identified exactly what our role would be for this project in regards to the City of Los Altos. In order to better prepare for the midterm presentation on Wednesday, we went over specific duties that each of us had.
After voicing our concern regarding incorporating conversations and interviews to our project, Jennifer provided us with potential contacts that we could interview in order to provide different perspectives and insight on the City of Los Altos’ economic status: the President of the Chamber of Commerce and the Director of Los Altos Village Association. We plan on participating in coffee chats with them over this weekend and learning valuable concepts, which we will incorporate into our deliverable. Adding new inside perspectives will be highly valuable in helping us develop a project that will be beneficial to both our learning and the economic resilience of Los Altos. This realization allowed us to look at our data with a fresh perspective; because of this, we are able to humanize the data and look beyond the numbers. With this new sense of understanding, we are able to truly comprehend what the numbers that we’re working with mean. Afterwards, we spent time reflecting on the project objectives, and with our renewed sense of how we’re going to progress with this project, we ended the meeting with an agreement to regroup over the weekend after analyzing more data sets on our own.
One of the largest take-aways from this meeting was the importance of understanding how analyzing this data would help the city of Los Altos and how our work would help the city move forward. We agreed that understanding the big picture helps motivate us and helps us understand how to take the next steps. We identified some main questions that we’d like to help answer with the data that we’ll be analyzing, including: what does having higher income mean? Does it necessarily mean lower crime rates? Is diversity impacted? Are better school systems an automatic result of communities with higher incomes? Next week, we plan to actively focus on answering these questions. We also plan on potentially attending a city hall meeting in Los Altos in addition to reaching out to community members and conducting chats and interviews.