Update on Project Activities
Today we met with Alexi and discussed our experiences conducting the papercut. Because we are creating approximately 5 minute audio clips from interviews that are greater than an hour long, we shared our difficulties in cutting out sections of the transcripts. We all voiced different struggles we had in choosing which parts of the narrative of the transcripts to emphasize and keep in our audio clip. We decided on allowing our transcripts to be a bit longer as we continue to edit them and understand what audio sounds most interesting when we have our audio listening session next Wednesday.
In response to our difficulties parsing out the most important sections of the stories, Alexi said she would review our paper cuts and give us feedback this weekend. We expressed to Alexi our apprehension with creating comprehensive audio clips due to the breaks and choppiness in our stories because we are pairing the stories down so much. She suggested that we take a closer look at the narratives of displacement on the AEMP website in order to explore the ways in which AEMP has compiled interviews to create cohesive stories. Alexi also introduced us to different techniques for using the interviewee’s words as narration. For example, we can cut certain sentences from the interviews to use as introductory transitions into a certain section of an interview to allow for the audio clip to flow and tell the story effectively.
What We Observed and Learned
We were introduced to many basic skills in editing audio with Adobe Premiere.
Critical Analysis/Moving Forward
Before we begin the audio editing process, we need to first incorporate some of the notes Alexi left with our draft papercuts. Then we start the editing process. Alexi provided us with more resources in creating documentaries and oral histories that can inform our perspective when it comes to editing audio/video. For example, if we are constrained by a time limit, should we edit out the interviewees stutters and pauses? Is it okay to start/stop in the middle of a sentence if it helps the flow of the audio clip? If we decide to include video to our project, how should we incorporate footage that isn’t the speaker (B-roll)? These are some of the questions we need to answer by Wednesday when our first clips of edited audio are due. We plan to have another meeting with Alexi on Wednesday where we’ll listen to everyone’s clips and provide feedback before Thanksgiving break. We also set up our final meeting before the presentation for Monday December 2nd. At this meeting, we will provide Alexi with an outline of our final presentation and a draft of our community map with our audio files integrated into it.
Update on Project Activities
This week our team has been working diligently to continue our data analysis and begin drafting up our final report. We’ve assigned specific data responsibilities and sections of the final report to each team member and have been doing a pretty good job keeping everyone accountable.
Katherine, Andea, and Brian are taking the lead on the quantitative data analysis using excel, stata, and tableau. For every demographic, Katherine is creating pie charts and tables that will show response frequencies and the results from different data analysis tests. Andea is working on Tableau to create bar graph visualizations representing different survey questions disaggregated by race, gender, homeownership status, age, and employment status. Brian is also compiling pie charts for all survey respondents in regard to questions about climate change concern and awareness.
Steven is taking the lead on analyzing the qualitative data from the survey which mainly consist of text answers to open-ended questions. He’s developed a python script that will parse out the most commonly used words and phrases in the responses and representing the responses in a bar graph. He’s also developed a word cloud representation of the responses that is both insightful and aesthetically pleasing.
Jessica is working on a spatial analysis of the survey data using GIS. She has so far been able to match survey addresses to East Palo Alto parcels and map out the geographic distribution of survey respondents across EPA. She has had the support of Derek in obtaining GIS data such as parcels, EPA boundary map, and FEMA flood zone area. Her first GIS analysis was to map responses to the survey question, “Is your property in a FEMA Special Flood Hazard Area?” and contrast the answers to the actual flood zone. Through this analysis we found that a good amount of people living in a FEMA flood zone are aware of it, but there are also a handful that are not.
In terms of the final report, Jessica and Katherine have started drafting up the background information and introduction as well as methodology. Brian and Steven will be in charge of the literature review and they have already found a few useful sources from Derek’s previous projects.
What We Observed and Learned
This week in class we have been learning about transportation systems in the Bay Area and Stanford’s own transportation demand management system. We got to take a bike tour around the campus to visit different bike infrastructure as well as the Marguerite bus lot. It was really cool to see Stanford incorporating climate-friendly transportation (via electric Marguerite busses), but it reminded us that East Palo Alto is largely lacking in sustainable transportation infrastructure in comparison. We were reminded of the importance of our work in encouraging policymakers to bring similar changes to East Palo Alto.
Critical Analysis/Moving Forward
The next week is expected to be as productive, if not more productive than this week. Data analysis is expected to be finished, as well as the methodology section of our final report. Something that we’ve already begun discussing is how we want the layout of the graphs/tables/pie charts to be on the final report, but by next week we are hoping to finalize a template with which to input our data analyses and begin our interpretation on. By the end of next week, we want to have made significant progress in our report, and make leeway on our final one-page deliverable for the East Palo Alto residents.
As it has already been stated, data analysis is still to be completed, however, there are some findings that should be brought to attention. Current GIS mapping shows that residents aren’t completely sure whether they do or not not reside in a flood zone area. For those that do know that they reside in a flood zone area, they aren’t completely sure whether they do or do not have flood insurance. Analysis concerning concern shows that overall, most residents are concerned about climate change yet they aren’t well versed in the topic. After being presented with related information, initial concern changes, areas that aren’t climate change related show a drop in concern while concern regarding climate change increases.
Our findings presented in our final report will show the relationship that exists between the residents of the East Palo Alto area and their concerns as well as current risks due to ongoing climate change. These relationships will be combined with the thoughts of the community in order for one to be able to fully understand what the statistics mean given the context of the community. This understanding will allow decision makers to know where to direct and focus their attention and efforts to in order to effectively initiate actions to combat climate change and engage the community. Combining statistics and thoughts allows for our report to truly be the voice of the community and is why a one-page deliverable as well as a thorough and robust report is being created. The one-page deliverable allows the team to concisely present all findings but more importantly, it allows the team to inform the East Palo Alto community where the community as a whole stands. Also, it allows those who participated in the surveying phase of the project to directly see how their contribution helped shape the end result.
We have spilt into the aspect of our project that requires much more individual work and therefore have each written individual reflections about our own experiences with interviewing.
This week I went to the East Palo Alto Community Farmers' Market at the Ravenswood Family Health Center with all of The Tech's gear in the hopes of interviewing the farmers and shoppers there, as I did at the Downtown Palo Alto Farmers' Market. Upon arriving, however, I realized that this farmers' market was very different from the Downtown Palo Alto market, as there were only a few tents, the farmers did not have much produce left for sale an hour to closing (indicative of the extent to which community members make use of this critical resource), and the primary language was Spanish. After walking around for about ten minutes and then sitting at a bench on the outskirts of the market to reflect and do more research on the market, it reflected on my initial feeling that interviewing shoppers and farmers would be inappropriate given the language barrier, and, more importantly, that doing so would disrupt a limited and critical community resource.
Fresh Approach, the organization who organizes the market, aims to make healthy, local produce an unattainable luxury for everyone in the Bay Area. The East Palo Alto market, according to the Fresh Approach site, "is a crucial resource for ensuring affordable, healthy food access for the East Palo Alto community, while supporting local family farms." I became immediately aware that inserting myself at this critical event that only occurs for a few hours weekly and only for select months out of the year to extract stories and leave would be inappropriate without having first established a presence and service in this community and possessing an ability to communicate with the residents.
I then decided to visit the Fresh Approach tent at which organizers of the market stood. I introduced myself and asked if they could give me more information about Fresh Approach and whether or not there are opportunities to table at Fresh Approach markets. They seemed interested in the Community Voices exhibit, and said we could potentially table next week. However, they said that Spanish translations of material are required to table, and that a member fluent in Spanish must be present at the table. They also implied that establishing a presence in the community and giving back to the community before expecting anything from it would be most commendable and ethical. They said they would be open to working with The Tech in the future, but with the implication that The Tech meet these requirements before proceeding. I shared that the Community Voices project is relatively long term, and that I would share these reflections with The Tech and provide Fresh Approach as a potential lead for future teams working on the exhibit if these arrangements on The Tech’s end can be made.
I learned a lot from this experience, notably that taking the time to reflect before taking action and potentially acting on impulse is critical. After speaking with the Fresh Approach representatives, I was glad that I trusted my initial instinct to take a step back and reflect to revise the plan I had coming into the market. Had I not done so, I would have risked being unethical or intrusive on a community with which I am not equipped to communicate given my lack of proficiency in Spanish. Unlike the Downtown Palo Alto market, it seemed that gaining permission from the organizers of the event to interview would be necessary given the critical and fragile nature of the resource. Moving forward, I will maintain my focus on refining the stories from farmers at the Downtown Palo Alto market given these circumstances, and I will add Fresh Approach to the list of leads in The Tech’s Google Drive with these conditions noted for future purposes.
This week I reached out to two individuals to interview and they both responded positively. Noah, a photographer who captures wildfire imagery in California, was receptive to being interviewed. The challenge lies in scheduling this interview in person, as he said his schedule is very erratic. I anticipate this meeting will be difficult to schedule, but I will be persistent as Danny seemed enthusiastic about this interview. Secondly, I reached out to John who works on Sol Lux Alpha, a carbon-neutral luxury condo. John was very eager to speak in person, and offered that we come to visit the roof of Sol Lux Alpha if the owners allow it. I am waiting to hear if the owners will allow it. Danny seems less excited about this interview for fear that it would not appeal to the everyday person, but would rather be too privileged. I think it is still worth pursuing, if time allows, and then seeing how the interview goes.
We have not yet received an audio editing subscription, so in the meantime we will use a different free trial software. Our meeting on Monday with Danny was productive because we were able to compile packets to provide to the interviewees. This should ensure that we follow best practices with those involved in this exhibit. It is important that they know they have points of contact at the Tech Interactive should they have any questions.
Having free passes and $25 gift cards should provide an added benefit so that the interviewees receive something in return for their story. We discussed this dilemma at length, and I feel good about our resolution.
Now we have a good process for conducting our final interviews. Scheduling with my two prospects will be a bit challenging. However, I am excited to speak with these compelling individuals and wrap up our project successfully!
Last week I was able to attend one of the speakers of the environmental justice speaker series that has been hosted throughout this quarter. I attended the talk put on the by Halah, the cofounder of the nonprofit organization, Planting Justice. Planting Justice is based in Oakland and works to build community support and uplift those who have been impacted by the horrible system of mass incarceration. Halah was very interested in our project and excited about the idea of participating in an interview. We have scheduled an interview time for Thursday of next week during which I’m going to travel to their community farm in Oakland and talk with her. I’m really excited about this opportunity and hopefully will be able to talk with some of the other employees at the farm (and maybe even interview them) to get a well-rounded view of their organization.
As both Priya and Keona mentioned, we spent a lot of this last week discussing the different forms of compensation we could offer to our interviewees. I also am ultimately satisfied with the method that we decided upon (a compensation packet including a gift card and free museum tickets). Overall I’m really excited and optimistic about the outcome of our project!
Alisha and Ayoade plan to include their contributions to this reflection in the comment section of this discussion post.
Update on Project Activities
As we focus more on transit access to Caltrain stations, emphasis has been placed on determining the accessibility to bus service in Communities of Concern. Quarter-mile buffers--which serve as an ideal walking distance to a transit route--have been drawn out for each SamTrans, MUNI, and VTA route and compared with overlapping Communities of Concern. Areas of CoCs (or entire CoCs) not within this quarter-mile buffer will be observed and analyzed by the team in conjunction with the schedule analysis being completed.
Our goal this week was to start developing portions of the final report that were independent of the mapping analysis, such as the Literature Review. The plan was originally to have a completed rough draft of this Lit Review as well as an executive outline for the rest of the paper. However, due to an increased workload from other classes and jobs, the Lit Review is still in outline form and hasn’t been synthesized yet into a complete piece of writing. Despite this setback, we are still ahead of set timetable for this report, and aim to complete the rough draft of the Lit Review within the next couple of days. The rest of the document, in the meantime, has been growing via an executive outline and should soon be a complete map of our written report.
Our goal is to finish our scheduling analysis over the weekend. We have been able to generate transfer times for one specific Samtrans Caltrain Connector as a proof-of-concept, so after we generalize our code to apply to the entire list of Samtrans Caltrain Connector arrival times we will be able to get the data we need for all of them relatively simply. Once we have this data, we will attach it to the existing geographical data we have, which will allow us to visualize which specific Caltrain Connectors have the longest delay times and how these overlap with Communities of Concern. Working with our own data will allow us to expand the scope of the Grand Jury report analysis in a geographic way that leads us to further recommendations.
What We Observed and Learned
This week’s lectures were particularly useful for our project as they dealt with transportation. Listening to our guides from Stanford Transportation, for instance, shed light on the challenges that are associated with running even a small form of local public transit. Keeping these challenges in mind when making relevant and feasible recommendations from our analysis is crucial - we recognize now the intricacies of making changes to established schedules and the constraints and challenges that are associated with each change.
We wrote a set of functions in Python to generate transfer times for all Samtrans Caltrain Connector bus routes giving us a quantitative way to work with early arrivals and delays that were described in the Grand Jury report. It is clear that SamTrans schedules must be redesigned to make Caltrain more accessible for those needing to use other transit systems to reach them, as the original report found. Attached is a screenshot of what we found for the SamTrans that ends at the Redwood City Lane A station.
Critical Analysis/Moving Forward
After we finish generalizing our code to generate transfer time statistics on per bus-route level, we will export this data and use it to design our final maps. As mentioned earlier, producing our own data allows us to scale up the analysis in the Grand Jury recommendations and to take advantage of the geographic nature of our data and of the project. Although we had planned to have a set of draft recommendations by this point in our project, pivoting at this point means that we have pushed back this timeline until later this week. We are confident based on the significant technical progress made this week, in combination with our accumulated knowledge of the GIS software, that we are on track to have our deliverables in order.
This past Friday we had the opportunity to visit the Fremont Innovation District with their Economic Director Christina Briggs. Below we have included a brief background summary on the district, some lessons learned from Fremont that we can apply to Milpitas, and various differences we noticed between the two cities.
Background on Fremont:
The Tesla factory, now the largest employer and anchor of the Warm Springs Innovation District, was once an auto factory for Toyota and Chevron. Once this car factory closed down, there was an economic crisis in the area as around 5000 jobs were lost. There was a lot of empty space and there was federal funding to do something with the area. BART construction for the new Warm Springs Station was already underway. Union Pacific Railroads bought the unoccupied land, and wanted to convert it into an old railyard. This would have been a low intensive use for the space, and would not be providing as many jobs as the auto factory once did. The city convinced Union Pacific to sell it by telling them that they would sell it for an increased price since the people buying it would use it for a higher and better use. The city also expedited the process and this transaction occurred within one year. The City of Fremont worked with the Urban Land Institute to determine how many residential units to put in. Developers want to build housing as opposed to building commercial spaces because there is a demand for housing due to the Bay Area housing crisis. It was important that the new development have space to meet the market demand, have a neighborhood feel, and create employment/commercial space. Together they decided on a total of 4000 housing units.
Lessons for Milpitas:
Fremont did a good job with Transit Oriented Development (TOD), mixing housing, transit, and jobs. They created a mainstreet within the Innovation District, called Innovation Way, to serve as a touchstone and central area. The BART Station connects to Innovation Way via a pedestrian bridge which the city developed and paid for. Similar to Milpitas, Fremont also has a downtown area and is in the process of further developing it. In both cases, there is the challenge of developing a sort of city (the innovation district) within a city. Fremont recognized the importance of creating community benefits with the new developments, so they built a new public school for Fremont ISD which was funded by the developers Valley Oak, Lenar, and Toll Brothers. These developers contributed a total of $50 million for the construction of this school. Fremont recognized that creative collisions, a key part of innovation districts, are harder to achieve in new development scenarios versus in places like Cambridge where these collisions happen more organically. Fremont has developed a ”weirdification” goal of trying to give the city and district an edigness factor. They hope to achieve this by building amenities and pedestrian friendly spaces where people can socialize and ideate. Fremont was not strict in requiring a certain amount of commercial space, instead they hope to make space and allow restaurants and retailers to move in more organically. Finally, Fremont thought a lot about the broader Bay Area area ecosystem and their role in it. They recognized that they are not Palo Alto, which has historically been R&D. Instead, they identified their strength in manufacturing and actually creating products, and they attempted to stay true to their roots.
The Warm Springs Innovation District is different from other innovation districts because it is a manufacturing anchored innovation district; its main employer is the Tesla factory. A key difference between Milpitas and Fremont is that in Fremont there were no new housing units built, so the housing units were built in conjuction with the construction of the commerical spaces. In Milpitas, the new housing developments are already built or under construction, and the innovation district is being built after. Another key difference between Milpitas and Fremont, is that the size of the Fremont district is much larger than the intended area for the Milpitas district, making placemaking potentially harder in Fremont than in Milpitas.
This coming Monday we will be presenting at the Economic Development Meeting in Milpitas. The focus of our presentation will be on the take-aways from our tour of Fremont and the best practices that can be applied to Milpitas. We are excited for this opportunity, and to meet the other people from Milpitas involved with this project. This week we were finally able to get a hold of the Boston Innovation District, and we are going to schedule a conference call with them in the coming weeks.