We’ve spent this week preparing for our final presentations to the city leaders of Salinas and the Human Cities Expo. We had a conference call with our fellow student-researchers at Hartnell and discussed our sub-project findings, but this discussion led to the realization that our sub-projects have truly branched off in very different ways. Some teams have significantly changed their time frames, or topics since we devised our scope of work, but each sub-project has still produced interesting results. Now, the challenge is to fit five sub-projects’ worth of results into one cohesive yet short presentation.
Designing the sub-projects along parallel paths of inquiry would have made the research and presentation process run more smoothly. If, for example, we had all agreed to examine the same topics but relate them to income (do people of different income levels have equal access to parks? How does an area’s income bracket relate to the frequency of police patrols? etc.), it would have been easier to link our findings together in the end. Additionally, we would have been able to share some data sources amongst the entire group, ensuring greater consistency and decreasing the amount of time we would have to spend looking for data individually.
At the beginning of the project, the roles and clarifications remained unclear and so it would be best to establish that first. However, it was a great way to learn how complicated and broad initial research can be. I would have picked a different methodology by working on the presentation first and continued to fill in with research on what I didn’t know. Carol mentioned that it was better to write first and then to consistently do research and I felt like that advice held true- it sufficiently helps!
What was your greatest learning from your community partner and/or from your fellow teammates?
- Hannah: Working with such a large team showed me that there are many different ways to address the same challenge. Some teammates loved to crunch numbers while others preferred conducting interviews and doing field work, and some started investigating a question as soon as they formed it while others took more time to carefully review literature and data sources. No one methodological choice was necessarily better than others because they all contributed to our goal of better understanding the distribution of resources and residents in the city of Salinas. My teammates have helped me become more flexible and understanding of the different ways people go about conducting research.
- Anpo: I learned so much about Salinas and the people that live there. Despite all the research however, I felt that I learned the most through the people that are from there. I feel that their perspective and guidance in this project was pivotal in directing the trajectory of my own research. I felt that community members narrative helped paint a more complete picture behind the numbers or statistics I found. From my own team members I learned a lot about their passions and it was exciting to see how their interests showcased in their 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?
Our initial trip to Salinas yielded a number of impactful moments. For instance, Sam Pacheco remarked that he had only been to Chinatown once, when he took a wrong turn, during all his years of living in Salinas. This was one of the reasons I (Hannah) chose to examine segregation and patterns of racial distribution in the city. After all, a city with very little interaction between certain racial groups or neighborhoods likely lacks the communication and unity necessary to address pressing issues like the housing crisis. This helped me to realize that understanding the roots of division and exclusivity is essential to building a more sustainable community. This realization also makes me wish that we had worked with a partner who is a part of the Asian American community.
In class, we learned a lot about research and how to conduct it in a community so that it is harmless. We also learned about how urban planners need to focus on the community that they are designing for rather then coming in with outside agendas. Furthermore, we learned that the class material was actually a lot more difficult in practice.