Update on Project Activities:
Over the past two weeks our group has been working on:
What We Observed and Learned / Critical Analysis:
As mentioned last week, there have been significant delays in distributing the survey. While the City of Milpitas and the Office of Economic Development are facilitating this grant, they have employed an independent financial agent, Enterprise Foundation to unbiasedly administer the checks. With these multiple parties involved, we have been able to witness first-hand the complexities of communication and coordination across multiple government and non-government organizations. We realize that this may cause extra stress for the business owners and therefore we have adapted our survey to be more sensitive to this issue.
Now having distributed these surveys, we are very excited to gain insight into the extent this grant will help these small businesses. When reviewing initial documentation that these businesses sent in to the city, many noted that they were looking for grants that exceeded $50,000. Our survey addresses this critical issue.
After discussing the Chinatown Shop Talk and hearing from Mei Lum in class, we realized some of the pertinent issues brought up there coincided with other comments we have heard regarding the City of Milpitas. Specifically, the point was brought up that sales tax wants to be maximized and large businesses (e.g. Apple Stores) drive this revenue. While this obviously could promote economic vitality in the city as a whole, there are larger concerns for smaller businesses, which we are surveying. The pandemic affects these small businesses to a greater extent — if some go out of business, they could provide opportunity for gentrification to take place.
In Geographies of Displacement: Latina/os, Oral History, and The Politics of Gentrification in San Francisco’s Mission District, Nancy Raquel Mirabal touches on this issue. She says, “In addition to the commonly accepted notion that spaces are defined and driven by capital and economics, these oral histories illustrated how those same spaces are also racialized, gendered, and rendered heteronormative.” While economics on the surface dictate the market of a city, culture and history plays a great role as well, especially for small business owners like the grantee recipients in Milpitas. In our interviews, we hope to gain a better understanding of how small business owners in Milpitas view the risk of gentrification along with the impact COVID has had on their businesses.
Looking forward, we are excited to collaborate with Gabi to form interview questions for a select number of survey respondents (5-6), which we will start doing this Friday. Over the next week as we begin receiving survey responses back, we will create our interview outline. This will enable us to quickly turn around and reach out to the 5-6 survey respondents to not only schedule a time to talk but also interview them in the following week. The survey responses will guide some of our questions as we will be able to gain knowledge on the hardest parts of navigating the pandemic and how Milpitas is — or could have — best serviced their constituents.
We also have connected with David Medeiros from the Stanford Geospatial Center to set up a meeting time to discuss the necessary datasets that we will need to use for spatial analysis of grant applicants. As of now, we have identified (with Alex) that we will need datasets centered around sales tax revenue per capita, community spending capabilities, and retail leakage. The spatial analysis will be done through ArcGIS, which will then be visualized and presented through ArcGIS StoryMaps for clarity.
Update on Project Activities
Patricia is working on an InDesign template for the informational booklet. She has also scheduled a meeting with Professor David Gonzalez to learn about his research on environmental impacts on communities of color.
Maya has begun drafting the copy for the introductory informational booklet on air quality science, and is working towards completing a preliminary draft by this weekend. She has signed up for Professor Marshall Burke’s office hours (initially for this week, but rescheduled for next week) to conduct an informational interview, which she hopes will inform edits of the booklet so that it is scientifically comprehensive.
Dani has been working on creating visual content for Brightline’s social media accounts and flyers such that they maintain a consistent “brand” across the educational campaign. She designed four Instagram infographics with answers to FAQs about the Clarity sensors and about air quality science, and she worked with Tori on re-designing the CCSROC flyers which will be hung up in small businesses and storefronts. Now, she is working with Daniela to incorporate feedback and make final edits.
The template spreadsheet for data entry across sensors from around the Bay Area is in place. Connery is continuing to fill it out so there is a wider range of data than the two-day span available in the website. Connery has also sent a voicemail to his faculty contact, as well as an email to gain more information if an interview simply is not possible.
Tori completed the FAQ final edits last week. She worked with the social media team this past week to develop a detailed communications strategy that provided an overview of the content we intend to post on our bi-weekly social media posts. Additionally, she and Dani have been collaborating to create the CYC and CCSROC flyers that will be posted in these two communities, providing them with information on air quality data and the QR code to check their air quality.
What We Observed and Learned
Connery has learned that the dataset currently available covers a relatively small timespan for any given time it’s observed, so any databases resulting from it need to be constantly updated, or there needs to be some functionality for finding the place the data is stored in the Clarity website.
Tori has learned the value of capitalizing on our teams individual and shared skills. Through working with other members of the team, who have various skills, she has learned how valuable it is to have several different abilities and how we can use this variety to our advantage when collaborating on our projects. She has also observed how Brightline operates in terms of their social media network and their flyers and how she can both learn from their foundation and build upon it to improve some of their outreach strategies and materials.
Maya has also appreciated the ways in which our team’s different strengths compliment each other. Our combined skill sets match nicely with the deliverables we are tasked to create for Brightline, and the delegation of different tasks as outlined in our Scope of Work has led to a very productive working environment thus far.
Dani has learned more about the different stakeholders who rely on Brightline’s educational materials. By creating content for social media audiences, CCSROC tenant leaders, and CYC youth, she has better learned about catering to each group’s specific needs. This has only made more apparent the vast amount of information there is to convey about air quality science and about the Clarity sensors — all of which is central to Brightline’s air quality monitoring program. However, condensing all of that information to be accessible and digestible can be a challenge.
Critical Analysis/Moving Forward
Moving forward, Tori hopes that we can continue profiting from our weekly Wednesday meetings which have allowed us to touch base and work together on our projects. She hopes that by continuing to carve out time for our projects and utilizing each other and our project leaders as resources, we can continue to produce great quality work in a timely manner.
Patricia's favorite part about the work so far is meeting the people that this impacts. She really enjoyed being at the SRO tenant meeting and was glad to see that their perspectives were being centered.
Maya’s favorite part of this project is the creation of educational materials, and she is thinking through ways to make them as accessible, relevant, and helpful as possible. The team has discussed making the introductory informational air quality booklet available to schools and teachers as part of our distribution efforts; moving forward, Maya is considering also developing a supplementary lesson plan that could be available to teachers and parents and work in tandem with the booklet. She will suggest this idea to Eddie and Daniela after the draft for the booklet is complete.
Unfortunately, one of our teammates was no longer able to continue with the project, so one challenge from the past week has been re-calibrating as a team to adapt and re-distribute some of the tasks. Lizzie offered a great deal of community organizing experience and graphic design skills, so we have been working together to come up with ways to adjust our responsibilities and stay on track with our timeline as much as possible.
In terms of connecting our work to the readings and topics in class, one reflection we had upon reading Plan Bay Area is that Brightline’s project is addressing a niche that might be overlooked at a regional level. When listing environmental achievements, Plan Bay Area shares that regional annual particulate matter concentrations decreased by 39% between 1999 and 2015, adding a year to the lifespan of Bay Area residents. But which Bay Area residents? This statistic does not address disparities in air quality within the region. Because Brightline has a more focused scope on specific neighborhoods, the data our team will analyze over the course of the quarter will shed light on the ways air quality can differ within a region -- which will hopefully lead to beneficial sustainable policy outcomes. The Brightline Air Quality Monitoring Project is an example of the kind of good that results from the cooperation of government, non-profits, and community members!
Update on Project Activities
Over the last two weeks, our team placed a heavy focus on transcribing the interviews conducted by Climate Ready North Fair Oaks (CRNFO) and Stanford Future Bay Initiative (SFBI) with community members from North Fair Oaks and the wider population of San Mateo and Santa Clara county. These in-depth, hour-long interviews asked a range of questions from people’s way of life before the pandemic to their perceptions of the virus to resources that have been of help to them both mentally and physically. Simultaneously transcribing and reading through the interviews allowed us to immerse ourselves in the stories that were being told and truly get an understanding of the multiple stressors people experience in low-income communities, specifically in Redwood City and North Fair Oaks.
Our next step was to create a shared codebook with the intent of picking out common themes across the interviews and bringing a fresh perspective to the project. Through the process of inductive coding (an open and exploratory technique where codes are created from the themes we see emerging in the data), 7 key themes emerged: compounding stressors, natural hazards, resource availability, information, emotions, reasons for dwelling location, COVID protections and resiliency. Each member of our team took two interviews to code using the qualitative analysis program NVivo.
The intention of coding is to assign codes from the codebook to words or phrases to help capture the overarching themes across multiple interview data, allowing us to better analyze the results in weeks to come. After communicating with our project leader Stephanie, we decided that simply coding words and phrases is not always enough, since NVivo has the feature of providing a percentage coverage for a particular code over one interview. We thought this could be a useful analysis tool for communicating our findings to the community partner focus group in a few weeks, so the decision was made to code everything that references any one of the codes. We are also using the tools available in NVivo to create visuals to represent our observations. After some helpful input with regards to our initial codebook, we may also include a ‘notable quotes’ code to coalesce powerful quotes that summarize the most salient themes. As of now, our current investigation surrounds the questions: what compounding stressors people are facing in conjunction with COVID-19? How are they dealing with it?
What We Observed and Learned
The process of transcription and the creation of a codebook enabled us to locate emerging resource gaps and see where information is lacking in vulnerable communities. For example, after coding two interviews, some of us were able to see that large portions of the conversations were covered by the codes ‘unhelpful resources’, ‘need for more help’, ‘ limited access’ and ‘lack of awareness’. In just one interview from a 70-year-old Hispanic resident in Redwood City, we saw 9.33% coverage for these negative factors surrounding resource availability, compared to only 2.22% for ‘helpful resources’. This describes the drastic limitations people are experiencing. However, our team needs to bring many more coded interviews together before we can start to get a sense of entire community needs and experiences.
We also plan to integrate demographic statistics into our basic analysis to be presented to the CRNFO community partners to begin to relate specific stressors to age, gender, ethnicity, location, language and employment status.
Coalescing our coded interviews from North Fair Oaks and Redwood City in NVivo will not only be an important step towards building clearer insights into our initial observations, but it will help our team see the project from a broader perspective. After meeting as a group to reevaluate our direction, we are now refocusing our efforts from the interviews and transcripts to understanding the goals of our project in collaboration with the community partners. Asking ourselves questions surrounding what will be the most helpful information for CRNFO, what final deliverable will have the most impact at the end of the project to influence the community at large, and assessing whether there is more to be learnt from the community residents will help our team bring in the concepts of sustainability from class and apply it to the project. It is important that we keep in mind the goal to build safe, equitable and sustainable communities that provide both socioeconomic and environmental stability.
Critical Analysis/Moving Forward
Moving forward, we have two main types of objectives: short- and long-term. The short-term objectives are oriented towards preparing for the focus group with community representatives from CRNFO on October 30th. First, our group will finish transcribing and coding the interviews from North Fair Oaks and Redwood City. Although a majority of the transcribing and coding is done, we still have two more interviews to transcribe and we plan to polish our coding by adding codes such as ‘Remarkable Quotes’. After these tasks are completed, our group will create a master NVivo file of the 14 coded interviews to qualitatively analyze them. There are many tools in NVivo that we plan to explore to start the analysis. One tool we could start with is the ‘Coverage’ tool, which tells us how often certain codes show up in the interview. This could be useful in identifying common themes, such as unhelpful or needed resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While we analyze the interviews, we will also plan the hour long focus group with CRNFO. This focus group will allow us to present significant themes and insights from the interviews to the community representatives of CRNFO. We’d also like to present any findings that stand out in relation to climate resiliency and COVID-19. After presenting our analysis, the community representatives will give us feedback on how we can better communicate our findings and what they’d like us to look into further for the final deliverable. We would also like to ask for feedback on what type of final deliverable they’d prefer and how we can ensure our work is valuable and applicable to their advocacy efforts. Some questions we need to consider when doing our analysis and planning the focus group are:
* Who are the specific community members from CRNFO that we are presenting to?
* Based on these community members’ experiences and interests, how can we present the key findings in an accessible and engaging way? Powerpoint? Graphics? NVivo?
* To what extent do the community members have experience with qualitative analysis tools like NVivo?
* What feedback do we need from the community representatives to ensure our final deliverable is valuable to their climate resiliency and pandemic-related efforts?
Conducting this focus group in a thoughtful manner is important for learning how we can best support CRNFO. In our class reading “Chinatown Shop Talk”, we learned how Mei Lum and Diane Wong thoughtfully organized events for Manhattan’s Chinatown regarding gentrification and changes in the community. One key theme from that interview is the importance of stakeholder experiences and perspectives when conducting community-based research. Mei Lum and Diane Wong discussed the differences in perspectives between intergenerational audiences and how such differences can complicate community dialogue regarding gentrification. They used such insights about intergenerational differences to plan events that would actually foster dialogue between intergenerational audiences. By actively considering the perspectives of stakeholders, Mei Lum and Diane Wong uplifted the community rather than extracting from it. We are trying to mirror Mei Lum and Diane Wong’s thoughtful approach in community-based research when planning this focus group. We would like to consider the individual representatives of CRNFO as well as the organization itself when planning how we will present our analysis of the interviews. Afterall, we do not want our research to be extractive and inaccessible. We want our research to aid CRNFO in assessing what the North Fair Oaks and Redwood City communities need to build capacity for climate change resiliency and pandemic-related solutions.
As mentioned before, our group is refocusing our efforts towards understanding what it means to be working in this academic partnership and community-based research. We acknowledge that we are actively shaping the trajectory of this sustainability research, and we take this responsibility seriously. Between now and the final deliverable, we will reflect individually and as a team on what we can do to ensure we are providing CRNFO with the information and resources they need. As academics, we will also reflect on whether there are power dynamics or imbalances in this partnership and how we can mitigate such imbalances. There is not a clear roadmap for this reflection, but we plan to discuss our thoughts through Slack and our weekly Zoom meetings.
Update on project activities:
In continuation, our group has been divided into three sub-groups which are working on four distinct projects. For the BayAreaCommunity.org (BAC) User Testing Project, Romuald and Sarah have accomplished their goals for Week 4 – preparing documents and interview protocols – and are ready to begin the interview process. While they’ve reached out to various personal contacts asking for interested participants, few people have followed through on their requests. Our partners at unBox recently offered to help us make connections with their own community organizations; we will take them up on that support. For the sub-group focused on user testing for SNAP Online Guides, Alex, Marilyn, and Mariah have also formulated an interview consent form alongside a set of interview protocols. In terms of interviewees, the group already has a few participants that are interested. In regard to the sub-group focused on content creation, Kei and Wesley have begun making efforts in updating resources for public free food distribution, domestic violence, and other abuses on the BayAreaCommunity.org website. This includes gaining familiarity with unBox’s data infrastructure and verifying sites of food distribution so that their data is up to date. Finally, our work focusing on content creation for the SNAP Online Guides is to be determined by the user testing interviews, which should happen shortly. These will advance quickly as each interview can provide insight into how to more carefully conduct the next.
What we observed and learned:
For the BAC User Testing and SNAP Online Guide projects, the sub-groups have been surprised to see just how many moving parts there are in preparation for interviews, and how each of these moving parts affects one another. For example, there has been a collective agreement to not record our interviews in order to increase user comfort, but this requires a second interviewer to be present as a notetaker. We believe this is the right choice– these resources are for the interviewee, after all, and we want to create the most comfortable environment for users to give us bold and honest feedback – but we must also keep in mind our own limitations as a student-and-volunteer run organization. This challenge we face – the lack of accessible information and resources – is in stark contrast to the advantages we had perceived we’d have as an organization of driven, skilled, young people. This will be an important piece to navigate moving forward. On the content creation side, we have realized how difficult it is to track down information on food distribution. Sites will often have outdated schedules or no longer serve food, which makes for a logistical nightmare for social workers who need to provide this information. A resource like BAC can help alleviate this problem and it has been incredible to see an organization of volunteers collaborate.
Critical analysis/Moving forward:
Moving forward, the user testing sub-groups will dedicate its energy to conducting interviews and relaying findings to the content creation team. Throughout this process, we will be vigilant in tweaking interview questions and protocol so they are more clear and comfortable for the user. It may be a good idea for one of the two interviewers present in each session to take note of nonverbal cues from the interviewee (such as shifting in seat, looking around the room, hesitating, etc.) which might indicate that parts of the interview are stressful and should be introduced/executed more gently. This will be a good use of the second teammate that we will have present in each interview, and is a silver lining to not recording our sessions. It is important that both interviewers create a welcoming environment that is conducive for both parties and allows the interviewee to be open about their struggles and/or frustrations. It is also important for both interviewers to be considerate of interviewees and their given situation and to be accommodating for them in an appropriate manner.
As a team we’ve made progress towards the goals we outlined in our project scope of work. The following is an update of our project activities thus far:
A few things we’ve learned since starting this project is to be very direct with our questions, and with our communication overall. At first, many of us were confused by some of the expectations and demands from our partners. This required us to be direct in asking questions to our AEMP contacts and with how we noted things in our notes. For example, we were a bit confused by the introduction of a new project (the project due on 11/1) and how it related to our overall deliverables. Once we discussed our concerns in our general group chat, it made it easier to know what needed to be asked so we were all on the same page. This has become a common theme for us as we will often ask each other things before asking the AEMP group, just in case we missed something that was already discussed. As for communication within the group, we have mostly relied on our group chat to keep up to date with things. We naturally try to update each other since some of us aren’t able to make every meeting, and then fill in missing gaps that are needed from person to person. This often requires us to know who has been able to attend certain meetings and who has taken somewhat of a lead on relaying information.
Another thing we’ve learned is how personal and deep these conversations can get. We listened to multiple interviews and while it may seem like class work, these are actual experiences and actual lives being described. It’s very emotional, but it also makes our work that much more important. I think we’re all interested to see how our individual interviews will go and I think we’re all prepared to support each other throughout the process.
The Plan Bay Area 2040 document highlighted the continued lack of affordable housing in the Bay Area, underscoring the importance of AEMP’s work against evictions and displacement. While AEMP’s current work has made clear that housing has been precarious for many folks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was alarming to see the lack of low and middle income housing being built, especially compared to higher-income, market-rate housing. The lack of repercussions that Bay Area cities face in not building sufficient housing contextualizes the continued importance of AEMP’s work in creating tools for impacted tenants to organize against eviction.
In addition to Plan Bay Area 2040, we observed many parallels between AEMP’s work and the interview experiences highlighted in “Urban Omnibus: Chinatown Shop Talk.” In both scenarios, we notice how gentrification takes hold in cultural hubs of major cities. In the case of Mei and Diane, their efforts combatted the gentrifying forces that took place within New York’s Chinatown. For an interview that Shania and Sarah edited, the interviewee spoke of his experiences in combating housing injustice in Los Angeles’ Koreatown. It is interesting to identify the coast-to-coast parallels of injustice in urban areas. Another connection that we observed was in the methods that both teams used to support those struggling with inequitable city development. Both Diane and AEMP utilize oral histories to understand individual stories of struggle. Their collection approaches both value the power of counternarratives. For example, Diane highlights a property owner (Mei), although the title property owner typically holds negative connotations, especially in the housing justice realm. AEMP has also made it very clear that they want to highlight the nuances of people’s struggles in order to challenge stereotypes that people have about those facing housing instability. Through the work of AEMP and Diane, we see how oral histories can challenge the notion that people struggling with gentrification have no power. By listening to AEMP’s interviews, we hear various stories of people organizing for housing justice through local organizations, similar to how Mei reclaimed agency over the shop by founding the W.O.W. Project. Through this case study, we were able to connect our project’s work with the course content.