Update on project activities
This week was a huge success for our team. On Monday, Katherine picked up ~65 surveys that Violet had collected at Saint Marks this weekend, and each team member was given a portion of those to digitize. As was mentioned in our reflection from last week, we met with Derek, Violet and Deland on Wednesday to check-in about our progress regarding surveying, digitizing and initial data analysis. After both this meeting and a Wednesday night team meeting, we officially finished surveying and digitizing surveys and are now beginning to focus all of our efforts on data interpretation so that we can begin the report shortly. We have ~314 surveys total!
What we learned and observed
Our plan for data analysis has changed drastically since last week -- and for the better. During our meeting with Derek, he recommended we make our analysis process more efficient by having more ‘horizontal’ analysis roles rather than ‘vertical’. Our team had previously been under the impression we should each tackle a different demographic and compare it to the survey results/climate concern, however with this new ‘horizontal’ analysis strategy each member now gets to work with each demographic, performing a specific analysis practice to each one. This strategy turned out to be incredibly helpful for our team, and allowed us to dive into things we are all interested in: for example, Andea, Brian and Katherine all are going to run their own quantitative analysis tests on the data (Andea using python, Brian using graphs, and Katherine using statistical analysis tools to find correlation coefficients and p-values) while Jessica and Steven were able to focus their efforts on the more qualitative data analysis work (categorizing short answer responses, creating word clouds), as they preferred.
We discussed many other topics during our meeting with Derek, Violet and Deland. Our team discussed potential drawbacks to the survey as it currently stands, and plan to write down our thoughts on the “recommendations” section of our report. Some examples of setbacks to our survey as it currently stands are:
The team realized a lot this week; mostly, we were reminded of the importance of having a strict plan with clearly established roles for each team member. We all want to participate equally, and with open communication and mutual understanding we were able to achieve this and more this week.
Critical analysis and moving forward
Derek emphasized the importance of setting deadlines for ourselves in advance of due dates so that each member can engage in ‘quality control’ with each other’s work. As such, by the end of next week, our team is hoping to be done with the data analysis for every demographic ( gender and climate concern in EPA, age and climate concern in EPA, etc.) so that the data interpretation process can begin and we can focus all our efforts on creating the report.
The Interpretation Process
Each team member will be responsible for interpreting the results of the data analysis for one/two demographic characteristics and climate change concern. This interpretation involves drawing conclusions and discussing patterns. We plan on referring to pre-existing literature to explain why we may have observed what we did for different demographics. As we all originally decided:
In addition to finishing our data collection and beginning data interpretation, our team is hoping to begin outlining the sections of our report that don’t depend on data (the background section, for example). In addition to the report we’re going to make, we’ve decided to create a one-page summary of our findings and recommendations (containing graphs) for the residents of East Palo Alto to read and keep.
Update on Project Activities
During the past two weeks our team has been doing survey work in the field at various community events. On Thursday afternoons we’ve been working at a food distribution event at the Mouton Center, and last Saturday we worked at the Latinx festival at the East Palo Alto Library. We have been fortunate and grateful that the Acterra team has taken on the digital inputting of the paper surveys, so we have been updating our spreadsheets with the new data. The key data points that we wish to investigate are climate change awareness in relation to age, ethnicity, and response language.
What We Observed and Learned
The opportunity to do surveying fieldwork has been a really valuable learning experience for our team. I think we all realized that surveying is much harder than it seems and now further appreciate the time and efforts it has taken just to gather the existing data we have so far. The biggest challenge in surveying is asking people for their time. The survey is rather long and involved and it is an inconvenience for people to sit down and take it. Furthermore, we have realized the importance of language in connecting with people and helping them feel comfortable. For example, on Saturday we were surveying at the Latinx festival and many of the people there were Spanish speakers. Brian is the only native Spanish speaker among our group and he was able to talk to residents and persuade them to take the survey much more easily than Steven and I could. I pushed myself to try speaking Spanish and had limited success. I think it does help people feel comfortable and trust you when you approach them in their own language.
Throughout the surveying process we have been continually changing and adapting the survey to improve it. We received feedback from the climate change community team that community members are more comfortable with using paper surveys because of unfamiliarity or distrust of technology, so we have transitioned to paper surveys at all our events. We have made note of specific areas in the survey that often get skipped and make sure to double-check that respondents fill out those sections. We also observed a need for Chinese translation in the survey materials, specifically with the group of people who attend the food distribution event. The main takeaway from our survey work is that it requires patience, community awareness, and meticulous double-checking. If a certain part of the survey is not completed, that could render the data unusable. As a result, we’ve also had to spend a good amount of time bothering people to come back and fill out the survey correctly.
Critical Analysis and Moving Forward
This weekend, we will be attending the adaptation planning meeting with East Palo Alto community groups and surveying at another food distribution event. This will be one of the last survey opportunities and we hope to make significant progress on our goal of 400 responses. We have a plan for how to proceed with the data analysis, and we hope to jump right in next week and begin spatial analysis by coding the survey addresses into GIS format through georeferencing. We will also work in Excel to sort through the survey data and find relationships between climate change awareness and age, location, and ethnicity. We will have to make decisions about which awareness metrics to use for this. We will need to check in with Derek again in the next few weeks to get a little more guidance and direction for the data analysis. Looking forward, we should continue to keep the principles of ethical and participatory research in mind, prioritizing the needs of the community in our work. This week's Wednesday class about zoning laws and CEQA was very applicable when thinking about East Palo Alto and I think we should definitely keep these considerations in mind in our work. Just being in the space, we can observe how city planning might have failed the needs of residents. For example, university avenue runs right through the city and the road is extremely busy and congested during traffic hours. We even observed signs in residential neighborhoods that said "no commuter traffic 4pm-7pm" because I imagine commuters would try to drive through residential side streets to get around traffic. This is definitely a huge environmental quality issue for East Palo residents, and although this is outside the immediate scope of our project, I wonder what work we can do around this issue.
Update on Project Activities
This week, we continued digitizing the remaining paper surveys, began and finished cleaning up the data, and checked in with Violet. The digitizing process wasn’t as straightforward as we initially thought it would be for there were some problems with the surveys themselves as well as with the language some of the surveys were filled out in. The cleaning up of data has removed what isn’t essential and will make future analysis easier. The meeting with Violet was a digital one where the project and its aspects were discussed.
What We Observed and Learned
As the paper surveys were being digitized, we found that some weren’t completed correctly, typically this was because a survey wasn’t completely filled out or directions weren’t properly followed. This led to us not being able to digitize these surveys though KoBoToolbox, the online platform that we are using to collect survey responses for KoBoToolbox will only process a survey if it is filled out correctly. However, since the data from KoBoToolbox is being exported to a Google Sheet for data analysis purposes, the information that we were unable to upload through KoBToolbox was directly written onto the Google Sheet for it might prove to be valuable in the future. There were some forms that were filled out in Tongan and Samoan, languages that nobody on the team knows how to read, however we will seek out someone who does so that we can properly digitize them.
While going through the data on the Google sheet, some survey entries had to be deleted because they were either a test response (a response to evaluate whether or not the survey was working properly) or were a duplicate. Information was standardized so that if certain aspects of the data, such as addresses later needed to be plugged into a GIS mapping tool, there wouldn’t be any problems regarding formatting. Besides this, irrelevant information that was imported onto the Google Sheet due to the way KoBoToolbox encodes its exported data was removed so that the data is easier to understand.
In our digital meeting with Violet, she went into more depth explaining the survey’s purpose and the team’s role. She explained that the survey was created in order to understand the level of community awareness regarding climate change. By knowing current awareness and levels of concern, action planners will be able to determine what courses of action to take for they will know what needs to be prioritized. The team’s role is to help action planners reach the state where they can effectively begin to make informed decisions. In order for this final state to be reached, the team will present the current awareness and levels of concern as well as other findings from the survey, such as concentrations of concern, specific racial breakdowns, and how language plays a role in the larger picture.
Critical Analysis/Moving Forward
Although specific examples of what can be presented to the action planners was included in the final paragraph of the last section, those were only some possibilities that were discussed and it is unclear as to whether or not such information will help the action planners. For this reason, a list of of potential pathways (listed below) for the data was given to Violet so that she can discuss the possibilities with the action planners on a meeting that is happening on the 14th of this month, doing so will allow for the team to take a more guided approach to the data. This meeting will be attended by the team in order to listen to what is being discussed as well as to get to meet the action planners.
-Relationship between climate change awareness/community concern and age
-Relationship between climate change awareness/community concern and gender
-Relationship between climate change awareness/community concern and race/ethnicity
-Relationship between climate change awareness/community concern and location
-Relationship between climate change awareness/community concern and response language
-Relationship between response to “What comes to mind when you hear the term ‘climate change?’” and response to “How much do you think climate change will harm the East Palo Alto community?” (gauge relationship between knowledge and concern)
Besides this meeting, there are two EPA Adaptation Planning Meetings, one on the 25th and the other on the 26th of this month that will also be attended by the team in order to further discuss the project and how work has progressed. Survey collections will continue until the end of this month. Collections will mainly be done by other organizations but there are existing opportunities for the team to help in the collection process. One of these opportunities in on the 12th of this month and the other is on the 17th. Who will be able to go from the team is currently being figured out.
Update on Project Activities
This week, we had the chance to discuss the project with both Violet and Derek. On Monday, Violet gave us an overview of the project and provided us with useful information about the East Palo Alto community. On Wednesday, we met with Derek, who discussed the project in more depth with us, gave us a rundown on the current state of the project data, and took us through some of the basics of technical tools that will be useful for us while working on the project. Katherine has begun to digitize the remaining paper surveys.
What We Observed and Learned
When Violet came in to speak with us on Monday, she gave us a high-level overview of the project and explained some of the goals of the project. Violet informed us that approximately 100 residents of East Palo Alto have been surveyed, with a goal of having approximately 300 surveys completed by the end of this month (October). The objective here is to gain a better understanding of community awareness and concern regarding climate change, and particularly flood risk.
Violet also talked to us in more detail about the community of East Palo Alto to give us an idea of the demographic and resources we’ll be working with. Hispanics account for the majority of the population in all of East Palo Alto. She mentioned that the Gardens neighborhood of East Palo Alto, a majority black community located on the bay, should be of particular focus in our project, as it is the neighborhood most vulnerable to flooding. Violet explained that East Palo Alto is undergoing rapid gentrification, and residents who can no longer afford rent are being pushed out by wealthy buyers. This is creating traffic congestion with more commuters, and leading to crowded homes for poor residents. East Palo Alto does not have as many resources as other nearby Bay Area communities, and is unable to allocate an adequate amount of resources to sustainability. This is because climate change is currently not considered a priority. There is a great need to build up the institutional capacity to allow East Palo Alto to better deal with climate change.
Derek gave us a tutorial on using Geographic Information System (GIS) tools and KoBoToolbox, as well as more detailed information about the survey itself on Wednesday. The GIS tools that Derek showed us are useful as they provide a visual in order to pick representative blocks to survey. The map contains borders dividing East Palo Alto into many blocks. The map also displays the area of East Palo Alto on the bay that is at risk for flooding. The blue flood zone on the map represents the area that would be flooded with 36 inch water rise. Climate projections tell us that such a flood has a 1 in 50 chance of occurring in a given year.
Derek showed us what questions the survey consisted of, and the methods with which the completed surveys have been administered. There are two primary ways in which the survey is administered: in paper form, and in digital form. Surveying was often performed in pairs of two, with the two surveyors alternating houses while traversing a block. Originally, the target for data collection was 1 in 5 surveys completed. Unfortunately, there has been a lower than expected response rate for various reasons (no answer, refuse to take the survey, language barrier, etc). The survey is divided into three main parts: initial questions, repeats of questions after additional information was provided, and demographics. The additional information provided comes in three different forms; the level of information provided for a given survey is randomized. The three forms of information are: text + block map, text + city map, and text only. The text + block map contains general information about climate change and a map of the participant’s block, noting whether or not the block is at flood risk. The text + city map contains the same information but with a map of East Palo Alto and the area vulnerable to flooding. The text contains only the climate change information. The purpose of this is to measure how residents would respond differently when provided with varying degrees of information. Surveyors are encouraged to provide all information to participants after the survey is completed, in the interest of awareness.
Critical Analysis/Moving Forward
The main goal of this stage of the project is to gain insight into the East Palo Alto community’s awareness and concern of climate change issues. This will provide critical info on how best to allocate resources and mobilize the community to take action in the future. At this point, it looks like our next steps will be to begin planning data analysis strategies for the digitized results as the rest of the surveys are being completed this month. A few other things we plan on doing in the near future to help with this are the following: