Update on Project Activities
We started editing the transcriptions of our interviews on Trint and have not encountered technical issues so far. However, one of our group members encountered a difficult interview where the interviewee frequently stuttered and we had a discussion on how to best approach editing such audio. After finding additional resources we decided the best course of action was to have the transcription maintain the authenticity and reflect the interviewee’s speech pattern as closely as close.
In addition, after talking with several members of our team, we now understand the commitment necessary to properly completing the transcriptions. As a general rule we believe it rounds out to a 5:1 ratio between time necessary to to transcribe for every minute of the interviews. This rule of thumb helped us understand the time commitment for the project and plan out our deliverables.
In terms of finalizing our project scope of work, two of us have shown interest in joining AEMP for an interview in San Francisco later in the quarter, but the exact date and time has yet to be determined.
What We Observed and Learned
Our key learning this week was around the transcription process and how to edit interviews with an emphasis on maintaining the original voice of the person being interviewed. It has become evident to all of us that transcribing is a time-consuming process that demands a lot of focus and attention to detail. The literature and frameworks that we used as guidance for our transcriptions all emphasize the importance of maintaining the original voice of the interviewee, which means that for many of us we must go over some sections of the interview multiple times to ensure we’ve been transcribing it correctly. We decided as a team to make sure we maintain the unique vernacular of the interviews by not “editing out” certain portions that some may consider unimportant, things like pauses, filler words, and rephrasings. It is important for the project that we include all the nuanced and unique speech patterns that each interviewee brings as a way of honoring their individuality and voice.
We have also gained insight from the content of the interviews. Many of us haven’t finished our transcriptions yet, so there is still much to learn, but there is definitely something poignant and beautiful about listening to an unedited, raw interview. We have begun highlighting sections in Trint that stick out to us as especially pertinent to the interviewee’s story, and could potentially be parts that we use in our final clip that we’ll incorporate in the website. There was very little description about each interview before we selected them, so the process of listening openly and with care as their story unfolds has been eye-opening.
Critical Analysis/Moving Forward
We are in the process of reviewing the “Interview Transcription Guide” in order to evaluate the guide for what we believe would be beneficial in our process. We plan on adding to the document incorporating our own methodology and systematic set of punctuation.
We have set on a meeting date with Alexi in order to check-in in two weeks regarding our progress with transcriptions. We have also now shared with Alexi and are adding to the Google Doc, which contains our questions regarding transcriptions or any concerns we run into. This way Alexi can have a direct route of communication with us as we go through our transcription process. We have advanced the date to have completed our transcriptions to November 1 after discussing our schedule with Alexi. She recommended moving the date up in order to have more time to edit the transcriptions and transform into audio clips and video to be integrated into the website. We also plan to continue exploring the AEMP website.
Update on Project Activities
As a group, we reviewed the durations of the interviews given to us by Alexi and split the transcription duties based on time. The amount of transcribing comes out to around 2.5 hours worth of interviews per person. To get a better understanding of the stories and intentions of the AEMP, our team is reading through The Zine and their website, as well as their mission statement. We are familiarizing ourselves with Scalar, their interactive website platform, and are also in communication with Alexi regarding our next meeting and further interests in video editing and conducting in-person interviews. This weekend we are all working to tackle 30 minutes of transcribing in order to be able to debrief next week how the process is, how much time it takes us, what problems or questions we stumble upon.
We will have weekly Thursday meetings to support each other in the transcription process and check in to write our reflections. We tentatively plan to have all of our transcriptions done by November 10 so that we can begin editing our clips.
What We Observed and Learned
This week, in our class session with Alexi, we were introduced to the goals and purpose of the organization. It is widespread, with locations in cities all over the U.S., and all those involved are driven by a common goal of bringing light to the history and lived experiences of Black San Franciscans due to gentrification, particularly due to economic forces and real estate exploitation. One of the main purposes of the collective is to explain the long history of colonialism and present continuation and dispossession of Black communities by combining data, mapping, and narratives of resistance. Their purpose relates to our class because this project is aimed at addressing cultural continuity and social equity pieces of sustainability.
The horizontal structure of the collective gives us a lot of agency with the work we do. This is incredibly freeing and empowering, but also demands careful and attentive thought. We must frame our work in transcribing and editing these interviews using the literature we have read, as well as advice from the collective. One thing about the collective that was pertinent was their willingness to trust our judgment and believe in the work we would create. This creative agency is based in the collective’s lack of internal hierarchy. While this agency is freeing and exciting, it also demands close communication and an understanding of our own strengths and weaknesses so as to achieve our deliverable goals. To achieve this, we will have consistent lines of communication with the collective to ensure our work aligns with their goals.
Critical Analysis/Moving Forward
As we are transcribing, we will be attempting to account for “difference” in speech patterns that the algorithms that the software Trint uses can not account for. Before we begin transcribing, we are working through the readings of “Representing the language of the ‘other’: African American Vernacular English in ethnography” (Brown and de Casanova 2014) and “Problems of Editing "First-Person" Sociology” (Blauner 1987). After reading these texts, we plan to establish a working set of norms that with which we will use to approach our transcription process.
We want to move forward cognizant that academic Standard English is often privileged by research and ethnographers in transcribing interviews from communities, especially those that may have differences in dialects and speech patterns than the people transcribing the interviews. We are further want to move forward cognizant that in failing to capture the authentic voice and speech patterns of the communities that have been interviewed we would be contributing to the erasure of the culture of communities already suffering from dislocation. We also recognize that the language some of the interviewees may use is stigmatized in the United States. We want to work on the transcriptions with as much self-awareness as possible of our conscious and unconscious biases towards language and speech that is stigmatized and our position of power in choosing how we represent the language of others from communities we are not a part of.
According to Brown and de Casanova, studying language is the key to understanding social interactions and institutions. The authors bring in other scholars’ thoughts on AAVE in order to provide multiple perspectives on ethnography to the reader. One of these perspectives is Labov who posits that, “as inner city youth interact more with varieties of ‘White’ English, will bring about the demise of AAVE,” (Brown and de Casanova 2014). This is an example of a claim put forth by scholars, that has a direct impact on our work as speakers of ‘White’ English. We come from a position of privilege (we are not at risk from being evicted from our home at Stanford) that is reflected in the way we speak English. According to Brown and Casanova “Acknowledging language diﬀerences is important as it clariﬁes for the reader the power imbalances that exist between the researcher and participant… yet researchers tend to steer clear of such topics in their publications,” it is important that we do not.
Update on Project Activities
The following reflection will comment on our activities of both this week and the week of Thanksgiving Break since we did not have a reflection due last week. Over break, we each took ownership over developing one portion of the grant narrative by fleshing out some of the language we had pulled from AEMP’s past grants, and by adding our own text to tailor the narrative specifically to the NEH Collaborative Research Grant. We really want to highlight how interdisciplinary and collaborative AEMP is as a horizontal collective, and how this has been useful in creating a comprehensive Atlas that takes multiple perspectives into account. We’re attempting to convey the power of community-centered understandings of space, as well as the inherency of using the stories of affected individuals in understanding both problems at hand and their solutions. We compiled our text into one coherent draft, and sent it along to AEMP for feedback. We are still waiting to hear back from Mary and Erin about any changes they would like to see, and we are also still waiting to receive budget and collaborator information from AEMP as well. We intend to revise this draft and complete the grant application on Saturday, December 1st.
This week, we focused on creating educational materials for AEMP to include alongside its Atlas. We also hope these materials can be adapted for a workshop in the 2019 Listen to the Silence conference. Spencer and Christian created a list of relevant vocabulary from throughout the Atlas and defined these terms explicitly to help students who might not be familiar with housing and policy language. Lexi created a timeline of policies and other events that have influenced the Bay Area’s current housing and equity issues to provide students with the necessary background information to be able to engage fully with these topics. Elise wrote sample discussion questions based on each chapter’s overarching goals and themes to encourage students to think critically about housing injustices and how they play a role in their own lives. Tony worked on a lesson plan for a community power mapping activity that high school and/or college students could do to help them identify what matters to them in their communities. We then met with Magie on Thursday, November 29th to present these drafts and ask for feedback. We intend to revise these materials and perhaps develop a few more activities before submitting them to AEMP on December 12th.
What We Observed and Learned
Throughout this week, we largely worked on the production of educational resources, and in doing so, were forced to consider the larger context for the information that we learned throughout the quarter. In thinking of which information we wanted to disseminate and to whom, we were forced to also think about the implications of our work in terms of the project’s target audiences and intended results. We decided which information was most valuable as a teaching tool for younger audiences, and in a sense had a large amount of autonomy in dictating that aspect of the project. This demonstrated the subjective power that researchers, scholars, advocates, and activists have in completing their work, as well as how important it is to recognize that power.
Additionally, this process taught us the difficulty of producing content with specific audiences in mind. Given the diversity of audiences that AEMP speaks to, we had some difficulty identifying ways that we would best be able to inform and uplift those communities. Particularly at the middle and high school level, we had some trouble identifying ways to distill down some of the terse academic language to an appropriate level.
In conjunction with this week’s readings, we had a lot of opportunity to think about our work in housing activism in the context of technology. Given that our project is one based in the digital humanities, we’ve been forced to think about the consequences of working through platforms that might be inaccessible to the people that they reference. In class this week, we broached a similar theme when talking about “smart cities” and the deployment of technology to resolve burgeoning crises in urban contexts. In thinking about how this relates back to our work, we’ve been thinking a lot about the dimensionality to sustainability practices, as well as how projects like this one might best have the potential to revolutionize the way that we visualize and conceptualize information. It has also caused us to think about the ways that our project can become more accessible, and it provided a lot of necessary context for how we plan to approach our work in the future, especially in tech hubs like the Silicon Valley.
Finally, this week’s bike tour provide a glimpse at the vastly developing world of Stanford sustainability politics. Several times during the tour the guide mentioned how much money some of their facilities cost, and the luck that they had to be able to pay for them. This made us think back to earlier conversations, though, that we had about seeing sustainability politics as more than just about the environment. Rather, they’re about social and cultural sustainability as well, which led us to question how these investments -- while in projects that are beneficial for the Stanford campus -- might have more broad reaching effects like gentrification on the surrounding region. It made us think critically about what is often posited as a ‘trade-off’ between environmental protection and the interests of the impoverished individuals living in affected areas. In light of the Indigenous Geographies chapter of the Anti Eviction Mapping Project Atlas, we were also struck by the framing during the tour of the Indigenous history of the land on which Stanford’s campus is currently built. In this case as well, phenomena described as fortune in the tour brought to mind systemic histories and made us consider the importance of undertold narratives such as those AEMP is placing forward.
Critical Analysis/Moving Forward
Is there anything you might have done differently if you were to embark on your project from the beginning?
One of the greatest obstacles from the beginning of the quarter was understanding how complicated communication between community partners and our group would be. It would have been useful if we better divided the deliverables amongst our group, making each person responsible for consistently communicating with our partners for each deliverable. Despite the difficulty in deciding who communicates what, we managed to figure out what had to be done and how to complete it by important deadlines, and with the input of our community partners.
Clarifying exactly what was expected of us in terms of deliverables and experiences would have also been useful. We were under the impression that some things had to be prioritized, like creating a useful oral history either for the Atlas or our own experience. It took a while to clarify exactly what we needed to accomplish, and what was supposed to be a useful experience if time and resources permitted it. Eventually we did clarify what the deliverables are, and since then we have been more focused than ever.
Lastly, perhaps scheduling a consistent meeting time every single week where we could all gather and discuss our goals would have been useful. Finding a time to meet each week presents its own difficulties, from changing schedules to family matters, so if a group meeting time were not possible we could potentially have had two meetings, each with half of the group, to discuss progress, then sending brief updates or meeting notes to the other half. In addition, this would have helped us clarify priorities and timelines for meetings with collaborators from the AEMP collective, which could also have been delegated more thoughtfully on our end both in terms of preparation and sharing responsibility for participation. In any case, each of us setting time aside to meet consistently would have created more opportunities for us to clarify expectations and work on deliverables more collaboratively.
What was your greatest learning from your community partner and/or from your fellow teammates?
One of the most salient aspects of our project that taught us all the importance of communication was the opportunity to collaborate with the AEMP research collective. We learned a great deal not only about the subject material itself and the interconnected issues of housing justice, health, infrastructure, sustainability, and planning, but also about what it means practically to organize as a horizontal collective and to put forward material that challenges dominant narratives and power structures of the Bay Area.
Rarely in academia do collectives like AEMP exist, and even more infrequently are they collectives that aim to mesh research with activism. As a group with multiple backgrounds ranging from biology to urban studies to anthropology, we learned how a collective can work in an efficient manner to bring about important social change with the help of data. Most importantly, we learned how to collaborate using our specialties, and this division of academic labor made our work even more interesting and convincing. Within the Stanford bubble, it is often hard to see exactly how coursework will help in a professional setting, and it is easy to become tunnel-visioned in one’s own department, unaware of how research with students in different departments will ultimately help each one achieve their own research goals. This work has been an encouragement and a privilege to say the least, and we have all gained valuable, real life experience from our group work.
Was there a particular "a-ha" moment during your project that shifted your thinking about sustainability or community-based work? Or if you cannot pinpoint a specific incident, what major learnings will you take away from this experience?
In class, Deland instilled the idea that the definition of sustainability can vary greatly, depending on who is defining it. This idea that something like sustainability, which might initially seem objective or exclusively based in science, is inherently value-based, connected quite well to the idea of countermapping, which is how AEMP describes its map-making technique. The idea behind countermapping is that what is shown on a map is dependent on who is creating the map and what they care about, and moreover that some voices are more often represented in maps than others. AEMP attempts to give marginalized groups a voice in the field of cartography by helping those who have been affected by displacement, gentrification, and eviction in the Bay Area to create maps describing what is important to them and their communities. This style of mapping tells stories that are usually hidden from the mainstream to help empower individuals and create a more holistic view of the spaces that people occupy. We believe that our work with AEMP has shown the importance of viewing the conditions of our environment from multiple perspectives, and examining further the ways that seemingly benign or fact-based policies and decisions can impact communities in overlooked or unanticipated ways.
Update on Project Activities
This week, we focused largely on internal organization and completing existing projects. During class on Wednesday, we mapped out various project deliverables, talked about the timeline for project completion, and plan for some of the upcoming projects we have to work on. From internal conversations, we decided that this week would be dedicated to completing chapter memo’s and having final conversations with authors about our feedback, and we set a hard deadline of 11:59 P.M. on Friday night for those to be sent out. We also decided to work on the first draft of the grant narrative over Thanksgiving Break, and we plan to have a zoom call on the November 23 to discuss and finalize our first draft. Given that we’ve previously divided sections and pulled existing grant language, we see this as a step in both synthesizing and producing new “pitches” of the AEMP project. We intend to send this draft to the AEMP team on November 23, and request that if they would like any additional work done on the narrative, that it be returned to us by November 29. Week 9 we plan to dedicate to the development of educational materials, and we hope to sent a first iteration of what some of these might look like on November 29. From here, we hope to begin working on both revising educational materials and making final edits to the grant narrative prior to the December 5 deadline. Finally, week 10 we will dedicate to the production of the final paper and powerpoint in preparation for the Human Cities Expo!
This week, we also familiarized ourselves with the presentation space at the d.school, and tried to get a sense of how we would divide up content during the presentation. While we have yet to make any final decisions, we’ve begun to discuss which areas we feel most comfortable with, and which topics are most important for us to cover in the exposition.
Finally, meeting as a team on Wednesday, we discussed some of the possible educational materials, and tried to come to a better understanding of what was being asked of us. After emailing some of the folks at AEMP, we settled on a list of several potential resources, including: Interactive Worksheets, Basic Concepts/Fact Sheets, Vocabulary Sheets, Sample Discussion Questions for groups and pair-shares, and Sample Activities like Individual Community Power Maps and discussion about home values. In the meantime, each of us have begun working on a list of topics, thematic ideas, and infographics that could be effective when used as a teaching tool for younger audiences. We hope to begin settling on these ideas and dividing up work at the beginning of next week.
What We Observed and Learned
This week, we learned the importance of planning ahead and setting small deadlines in order to meet our project goals. With 2.5 weeks remaining in the quarter, and a number of deliverables still remaining (several of the chapter memos, the NEH grant, educational materials, campus activism resources, and a potential oral history), we were feeling stressed about finishing everything on time. However, on Wednesday (11/14), we sat down as a group and mapped out the rest of the quarter, giving ourselves internal deadlines throughout the rest of the quarter. We also decided on when and how we would continue to check-in with Magie, Erin, Mary, Adrienne, and Deland. After dedicating about 30 minutes to this organizational mapping, we feel much more confident in our abilities to get everything done. Below is an image of the plan we developed for ourselves.
We have also learned the importance of on-going, earnest communication. As a group of five, working with an even larger collective, it is incredibly important that we are all aware of and respectful of each other’s time commitments, and that we understand what is expected of us as individuals. Although it can be tempting to “bite off more than we can chew,” especially because we are all very excited about the work we are doing, we have learned that we can and should be honest if we do not feel that we can reasonably accomplish what we originally set out to do. For example, at the beginning of the quarter, we were excited about completing an oral history with Stanford employees. However, given our time restraints and ethical concerns about not being able to develop a mutually beneficial relationship with a Stanford worker, we have decided to scale down this aspect of this project to and instead compile a list of resources that could serve as a starting point for a future project on campus housing activism.
Critical Analysis/Moving Forward
A key strategy we will be using as we move forward and finish our project will be to use, as much as possible, to using in existing material to complete the grant and educational material. The AEMP, founded in 2013, has been doing research on the Bay Area housing crisis for 5 years and have produced a number of maps, collected dozens of oral histories and written articles about the various social justice dimensions of housing and transport. In producing our educational materials we will distill key content from each of the chapters and present it in a simple and accessible way. Additionally, we’ll try to incorporate maps into the educational materials so students can reach their own conclusions about obvious trends in gentrification happening in redlined neighborhoods and happening disproportionately to people of color. Another idea we planned to execute is compiling a list of key terms and policies so students reading the educational materials can be informed about the forces at play contributing to inequities in the system.
We are looking to inspire conversations among students utilizing educational material that mirror our conversations about transportation in class on Monday of this week. People brought their own experiences of public transportation and had clear suggestions about how integrating transit networks and lowering fares could improve the experience on the whole. Similar to how our class read Schafran’s history of public transportation in the Bay Area, which helped to explain the systems present failures, we hope providing a brief history of housing, transport, infrastructure, public health and such will increase students understanding of these issues, contextualize their frustration with current issues and be empowered to work towards change. Drawing particular attention to successful public collective action in changing policy would be greatly impactful.
Similarly, with the grant we plan to use language that AEMP has already used for previous winning grant application and adapt it for our purposes. Having a good amount of in depth knowledge of the Atlas and the motivations of the project we feel adequately prepared to write a convincing narrative. The fact that the Atlas is a collaborative project with interdisciplinary study makes it a great candidate for the grant.
Update on Project Activities
This week, as usual, involved a lot of small 2-3 person meetings – most were focused on preparing good feedback for chapter editors but we also spent time discussing and finalizing our plans to engage with the oral history part of the project.
Christian and Lexi submitted their two-page memo with feedback on the Migration/Relocation chapter to Mary on Sunday, November 4th. After Mary thoroughly reads this memo, the three plan to chat again to answer any remaining questions. Similarly, Tony and Spencer have been working on their feedback for Erin about the Speculation chapter, and Elise has been working on the Transportation/Infrastructure chapter feedback for Deland. Lexi and Tony had a check-in with Magie about the Indigenous Geographies chapter on Thursday, November 11th, during which they discussed what types of feedback would be most useful and strategies for editing down oral histories. Lexi and Tony were worried about inadvertently inserting our own voices over the interviewees’ based on how we edited their stories and what we cut out, but Magie showed us ways to shorten individual sentences without removing large portions of the narrative.
Christian, Spencer, and Lexi also attended the Ethical Research Training with Magie and Adrienne on Thursday, November 11th. Tony and Elise watched a video recording of this training in their own time. We reviewed several pieces of literature, such as the AEMP handbook, prior to this training so we could gain further insight to AEMP’s philosophy of mutual benefit and using academia for activism. We decided, given our time constraints and lack of connections to people with direct experience of housing displacement on campus, not do an oral history of a Stanford employee (as we had originally hoped to do). Instead, Spencer, Lexi, Magie, and Adrienne discussed the possibility of doing some background research about campus housing activism to serve as a starting point for next year’s cohort of students. We may begin by conducting an informational interview with student members from SCoPE (Stanford Coalition for Planning An Equitable 2035). SCoPE is a student organization that cooperates with Stanford’s workers union on campus and advocates for equitable outcomes in housing, transportation, labor provisions and GHG emissions.
We also scheduled a meeting with Magie on Thursday, November 29th to go over our draft educational materials, which we will begin developing next week. We are hoping to create something that will be useful for AEMP as well as for the 2019 Listen to the Silence Conference. We are also tentatively planning to send two people (probably Christian and Elise) to shadow Adrienne as she conducts an oral history interview in San Francisco some time late November. This is dependent on the interviewee’s schedule.
What We Observed and Learned
One of the main objectives this week was to provide feedback for each of the chapters we were editing, and we discovered that many of the chapters were at different stages of writing. We noticed that much of our feedback depended on what stage of writing the author was currently at, and that we all gave very different feedback to our respective authors. For example, the evictions chapter was more or less finalized and in PDF format, so most of the feedback had to be tailored to more specific, easy fixes that wouldn’t require an overhaul of the finished product. Other chapters like the migration chapter had basically no text or layout, and was a compilation of figures, graphs, and interviews. For a chapter like this, weaving a coherent story was more the focus in addition to providing criticism or suggestions about any data, and the team was focused primarily on finding common threads to link bits of the story together. Altogether, it was difficult to think about the overall design of the publication as a whole given that, currently, they are at such different stages in the writing process. Looking forward, it is important for us to make sure we know how our chapters fit together through discussion with ourselves and our authors. By discussing the big picture concepts from each chapter and how they fit together, we can better provide feedback for our individual chapter editors and create a more compelling finished product.
We also clarified the expectations for our project deliverables while completing the Ethical Research Training this week. Our impression of the oral history component of the project was that we should reach out to any individuals or communities we knew of that might be interested in completing an interview, and that we would conduct an oral history ourselves that would be included in the Atlas or on the AEMP website. What we learned during training was that completing an oral history was not an expectation, but rather something we should try to accomplish for our own understanding of the meaning of ethical research, the importance of the project’s goals of collecting and compiling stories, and the impact of having the voices of people most affected by the housing crisis heard in our Stanford community. In fact, we might shadow one of Adrienne’s contacts while they complete an oral history, and this would effectively be achieving our goals of learning about ethical research while maintaining an appropriate level of participation.
However, we are still interested in applying oral history work to workers’ rights on the Stanford campus. We do not feel as though we have the right knowledge and skill sets to create meaningful change in AEMP’s focus areas (San Francisco, Oakland, etc.), but we do know and understand Stanford’s community dynamics enough to get involved. Stanford is a major source of employment, as well as displacement, in the Bay Area, and AEMP has not yet begun to explore the stories of people affected by the institution’s regional dominance. Spencer had been to a SCoPE meeting earlier in the quarter and remembered seeing a map SCoPE compiled of the counties the workers were from – some several hours away. Clearly the problems we’d discussed in class around developers in the Bay Area not having sufficient incentives to build affordable housing, and lack of enforcement in ABAG’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation are reflected in the long commutes Stanford workers have to make to get from where they can afford housing, to where they have to work.
Spencer, Lexi, Adrienne, and Magie began a discussion of what sort of work could be done on campus to help empower workers’ and motivate students to help push the university for workers’ housing. However, we believe that this work would require a lot more time than we have remaining in the quarter, so we brainstormed ways our group could help prepare materials for next year’s Sustainable Cities cohort. We are considering doing some preliminary research on Stanford housing activism to establish a “landscape” of what has been happening on campus and where there is room for AEMP/Sustainable Cities to get involved.
Critical Analysis/Moving Forward
At this stage in the quarter, we have been working with AEMP for quite a while, and have gotten a sense of the sheer complexity of the housing crisis in the Bay Area. As we have seen both in our field work with the organization and from readings in class, solutions to the housing shortage are not as simple as constructing more houses. Given legacies of gentrification, racial exclusion, and income inequality, the situation demands a holistic look at the issues affecting countless individuals in the Bay Area and beyond. This week was particularly informative in that regard, as it forced us to begin putting some of the Atlas chapters in conversation and begin drawing out the thematic arc of the text. The sheer difficulty of cohering a single atlas to depict the wide range of issues falling under regional displacement demonstrates the complexity of the issue at hand, as its narrative exists beyond single issues like AirBNB and the preponderance of Single Family Homes. Instead, each chapter has really begun to feel like single pieces in the collective “housing puzzle,” and conversations -- as working on chapter editing has shown -- are not relegated to particular sectors or even disciplines. They are complicated, interlocking, and often-times co-constitutive with other issues, requiring the earnest collaboration of all parties with something to contribute.
Another idea that came up in this week’s readings that seemed especially relevant to the work we’re doing at AEMP is the idea of critical reflexivity. We were drawn to new metrics to evaluate urban change, as well as given case studies of several failed pilot projects, each of which providing context to many similar policies being debated today. Examples like Pruitt-Igoe and the high-rise developments following WWIgetting people off the streets and into better conditions, Pruitt-Igoe backfired, resulting in the proliferation of crime and “city-slums” throughout Saint Louis. This example seemed to be particularly poignant, as it forced us to consider practicality as much as ethicality, and to temper efficiency and moral exigence with reasoned analysis about how these problems might be solved. It also forced us to think about how space becomes amenable, safe, and accessible, especially with regard to development and changing urban landscapes. AEMP also exemplifies this goal, as their work on cutting-edge issues like “vacation rental homes,” and AirBnB seeks to problematize even superficially “unrelated” or even “beneficial” services.
Perhaps most importantly, our work this week has provided us the opportunity to reflect on displacement not as a single act, but as an ongoing process of removal and erasure. During a conversation with Magie, we talked briefly about how settler colonialism resulted in the original theft of indigenous land. In thinking about indigenous displacement today, it became clear that colonization and displacement are not singular events with a defined beginning and end. Rather, displacement represents a logic that exists today in acts like the denial of indigenous sacred spaces, traditions, and family. Seeing social and physical location as the constellation of single acts has enabled us to think about these events in concert rather than in isolation, and be able to identity some of the persistent structural flaws inherent within the housing system. It has also enabled us to broaden our vocabulary when discussing events like eviction, migration, and racial displacement today.