Update on Project Activities:
Last Tuesday, we administered the survey to the first 25 respondents; we followed up with these initial 25 respondents on Friday. As of Monday, October 19, we have received 18 responses (72% response rate). This past Wednesday, we selected 6 interview subjects, as well as backup interview subjects, and will reach out to them Friday afternoon/evening.
For the geospatial analysis, Gabi advised us to use StoryMaps, a GIS feature. We are looking into the possibility of incorporating these into our analysis. We have also made some progress towards producing a map to analyze the areas around the microenterprises that are receiving grants. Alex asked for a comparison between 2008 and 2020 demographics within a half-mile buffer around each of the businesses. So far, we have been able to link census data from the 2008-2012 ACS 5-year estimates and from the 2014-2018 ACS 5-year estimates (which is the most recent census data available) to shapefiles for the census tracts that make up the City of Milpitas. We have focused on demographics related to race, income, employment, poverty status, and country of origin, which is the best proxy for immigrantion data. We have also imported coordinate-locations as point features for each of the first 25 businesses that were approved to receive their checks.
What We Observed and Learned / Critical Analysis:
The first several weeks of our project were at a standstill due to delays in dispersing grant checks, but when checks were made available to grantees this week, a vast majority were picked up within days. Given this rapid turnaround, we have quickly learned about the significant, continued need for financial assistance ever since applications were sent in. At the same time, 72% of businesses filled out survey responses within days of our e-mail, so we are also rapidly learning more about the demographics and priorities of Milpitas businesses who applied for assistance. Regarding how quickly checks were picked up, one business returned Alex’s email saying that this assistance had come at the “perfect time,” when “outstanding vendor bills, rent and insurance [were] all coming due.” This positive reception was definitely a source of reassurance and helped to further ground the purpose and intention behind this project.
As our project picked up pace, we also began to discover more complexities in the process of selecting interviewees, creating interview questions, and intentionally establishing a comfortable space for businesses to share their personal experiences. We recognize that in order to analyze a diversity of perspectives in our report, we need to sample businesses from a range of sectors and demographics. The difficulty in constructing meaningful and adaptable interview protocols harkens back to our understanding of Baylor University’s “Intro to Oral History,” which encourages open-ended questions, the use of silence, and genuine focus on the storytelling of our narrators, local Milpitas businesses.
Regarding our survey design and responses, we quickly realized how important it would be to make every relevant field a required response, since we can never assume that someone will provide us pertinent information unless it is required. From here, we quickly made adjustments to our survey so that we could monitor business responses on the backend without prompting business owners to name themselves. As survey responses trickle in, we are also gradually growing our understanding of current business needs in Milpitas and garnering important answers to some of the inquiries that Alex and Nicole voiced.
For instance, every single business who answered that their business owner would be retiring in the next 5-10 years also answered that they do not know who will take over the business. Out of the businesses who chose to answer our question on technical assistance, every one of them answered that they were either unaware of technical assistance being available to them or were aware and chose not to utilize the resource. Out of the 18 businesses who responded, ⅓ were immigrant-owned businesses and ½ were minority-owned. Furthermore, most of the people who said that the grant funds would be going towards rent/mortgage costs also indicated that 80-100% of the funds would be used for this purpose. These answers provide us key insights into who’s behind these businesses, the future of Milpitas’ economic landscape, and which parts of the grant program are not as well utilized.
These survey responses also provide us an opportunity to discuss subjects we might want to explore within interviews. In the “Racial Equity Impact Assessment & Implementation Guide,” we repeatedly saw mention of rising real estate costs due to growing gentrification in the Bay Area, and given that many respondents will be using grant funds to front real estate costs, this issue will be of central concern as we move through our interviewing process.
Our next steps are to send the survey to the remaining 13 recipients who have not taken it yet and analyze the further responses. Unfortunately, Alex said those remaining 13 recipients will not receive their checks until at least next week, but we may send the survey prior to their collecting the check since we can still collect some information about their experience with COVID and how their needs have changed.
Additionally, we will begin scheduling and conducting interviews over the next two weeks. We plan to have two group members in each interview, where one conducts the interview and the other takes notes with their camera off and steps in if the interviewer has technical difficulties. Additionally, we have created a list of questions to ask the interviewer. Finally, we will continue the geospatial analysis, incorporating insights from the interviews if need be.
Update on Project Activities
In addition to attending our weekly Tuesday general meetings and weekly Friday check-in meetings, the oral history team continues to reach out to people who expressed interest in being interviewed for the COVID-19 Housing Protection Legislation & Housing Justice Action Map project. For context, these are people who submitted their information and tenant conditions on a survey created by AEMP. Unfortunately, most of us have not received responses from anyone. In order to gain momentum with the interview collection process, AEMP members have encouraged us to reach out to personal acquaintances who may be experiencing housing struggles. We have also discussed implementing social media outreach in order to enlist more folks to interview.
In addition to interviews, we are also nearing the end of the papercut creation process. Having created and presented a rough draft of our papercut outline, we will now edit the actual audio files into a 5 minute audio clip using Audacity. AEMP members have hosted instructional meetings to explain how to use the Audacity software and securely export the information. We will present these clips in the 10/27 general meeting. To account for the lack of interview progress, we discussed adjusting the deliverables to include more transcription and translation work for interviews that have already been recorded by AEMP members.
The sound visualizer team has been working on finalizing the design of the visualizer and preparing for its implementation in the COVID map. In the last week, we cleaned up the design and tried to optimize it to best amplify the voices of the interviewees in the visualizer. We also continued work on the react framework and finished porting our existing code base into it so it can be implemented into the map. Aside from that, we have set up a spreadsheet in which people from the oral histories team can enter information about calls to action in their interview that can be displayed with links in the visualizer. We are now working on the code that will parse this spreadsheet so it can be displayed in the visualizer.
In the meeting this week, we worked with Brett and Ben, who we work with frequently, as well as Erin, one of the founders of AEMP, to plan how the visualizer will be implemented into the map. Brett made a great wireframe mockup for the design, and Erin gave input on the goal of this project that will help us as we go forward into the implementation phase of creating this sound visualizer. Going forward, we feel that the visualizer is in a good place aesthetically and now we are trying to finish the functionality of the calls to action and get it ready to be implemented into the map. We have to contend with the fact that other developers in AEMP are working on the map right now, so we need to make sure our visualizer is a finished product, in React, that they can easily implement into the map when they are ready whether that be during this quarter or not.
What We Observed and Learned
A recent observation we’ve made is that how we edit the interview audio clips is directly related to how we tell the story of the person being interviewed. Therefore, we still heavily influence which parts of the entire interview are made public in the 5-minute clip. With an interview in particular, some of us have brought up a concern in terms of how we go about editing this clip and telling this story because of our understanding of privilege and whose story gets told versus whose are most often overlooked. It’s difficult to explain here because the clip is not ready yet, however it is something we brought up in Tuesday’s general AEMP meeting. We discussed this internal conflict, and a lot of the members said they had also been thinking about this and how they go about being intentional and critical with the stories that are told, especially when collecting narratives of the displacement of folks who are privileged but who they themselves think that “stories about them aren’t centered enough.” However, AEMP team members made a point to say that including this narrative may still be valuable to listeners and that in the end, this is yet another story of displacement that touches on the distinct hardships COVID has caused, and not just to a particular group of people. We will continue to think critically about our positionality, our preconceived notions, and how to go about doing this work with intentionality.
Critical Analysis/Moving Forward
This week’s readings touched on the work being done by the Brightline Defense group and the Oakland Climate Action Coalition. Both of these groups are working on aspects of environmental justice and while our group may not be primarily focused on environmental changes, we can still see how both environmental groups have to consider some of the same things we grapple with. For example, we’re grappling with questions of how to frame narratives to uplift voices that are usually overlooked. The speakers from the Oakland Climate Action Coalition mentioned that their work needed to grapple these same questions because the work they’re doing is for equity, not equality. This means that they have to find ways to convey the message that disparate action is needed to uplift and assist residents so that this action makes up for the disparate impact certain groups like BIPoC, low-income communities have faced for decades. Our job is to be conscious of these different experiences and find ways that we can convey the differences while still bringing the narratives back to the same systemic roots of these experiences.
Update on Project Activities
As we continue to work on different educational materials to help inform community stakeholders about Brightline’s air monitoring program and about air quality science itself, our team has been taking the steps to better educate ourselves on these topics and better understand how we can translate them into more digestible content.
A large piece of this process has been conducting informational interviews with different professors across many different departments at Stanford. Patricia had a meeting with Professor David Gonzalez of the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources, and learned about his research on the detrimental effects air pollution had on birth rates for women in Southern California. Our conversation focused on what data to look at, as well as how to communicate findings in an accessible way. Professor Gonzalez also kindly offered to write some of the code for the data analysis. In addition, Dani conducted an interview with Professor Lynn Hildemann of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. Given her background in researching air quality science and its impact on urban communities, Lynn provided a helpful overview of the most important takeaways of air quality science for the everyday person. Lynn also has experience serving on advisory committees for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and for the California Air Resources Board, so she gave us some tips about how to use the air quality data to better advocate for policy reforms like car-free streets or clean buses, for example. Maya met with Professor Marshall Burke in the Department of Earth System Science to discuss his research on the hidden health costs of wildfire. He provided insightful context on the effects of air pollution on cardiovascular and respiratory health, as well as things we don’t often think about, like test scores and mental health. He was very interested in how the data resulting from this project will be used and how future study could address indoor air quality; Maya is going to connect him to Eddie and Daniela via email for potential future collaboration. Looking ahead, Tori has been working to set up an interview with a professor about air quality and was able to secure a potential interview with Lisa Patel at the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research.
Maya is pre-writing the booklet, pulling preliminary information before she begins working on a final draft with the actual language. Clarity’s Chief Operating Officer Meiling Gao made an incredibly informative presentation to the Sustainable Cities class that Maya is drawing on for the “Basics of Air Quality” section. In addition, Maya (along with Tori, Patricia, and Dani) was able to meet with CCSROC leader Pratibha Tekkey on Friday morning, and she provided useful context on the needs of the SRO tenants; many of them speak Spanish, Arabic, and Cantonese as a first language, and have limited reading and writing capabilities in English. As a result, the language of the booklet will be most useful if it is short and to the point, with lots of visuals. This is useful knowledge for our team as we move forward; Pratibha is also willing to connect us with tenant leaders so they can provide feedback before we finalize the deliverable.
Connery has been continuing to look through and record data from the Clarity air quality system, putting together a spreadsheet to replicate the overlaid graphs on the website. So far, the clearest distinctions have been peaks in AQI at the morning and evening in each day regardless of location, and that the areas tend to have relatively similar AQI levels as well, though Chinatown’s tend to be slightly more drastic in range, and the Richmond District’s sensor has the highest peaks on average.
Flyer / Social Media
Tori and Dani have been continuing with the flyers that will be put up all around SoMa and the Tenderloin, and they’ve been working with Eddie and Daniela to apply edits to the flyer’s first drafts. Tori has also been in communication with the Brightline leads and the CCSROC lead Pratibha through email and a meeting in which we received feedback on our work so far so that we can make adjustments for the final product. Moving forward, we may work with Pratibha to schedule direct meetings with SRO tenant leaders to hear their thoughts on what information may be most important or most relevant for the tenants in their buildings.
Pitching to local news outlets
Patricia met with Eddie and Daniela to discuss story angles to pitch to local news outlets. This week, she is pitching to the Stanford Daily about story featuring the Sustainable Cities class, and to the San Francisco Chronicle about the inaccessibility of "low-cost" air filters such as Purple Air, and what Brightline is trying to do to address that inequity.
What We Observed and Learned
From these latest project activities, Tori has learned the value of collaboration. By working with other members within our team as well as collaborating with the Brightline team to receive feedback on our work so far we have been able to produce better and better work. Additionally, the in-class presentation from Clarity and Brightline this week allowed her to get further insight into the science behind air quality and the aims of this monitoring work which will allow her to be better informed and more effective as a Brightline team member.
Dani found the meeting with Pratibha particularly eye-opening, as talking with Pratibha about the real-word logistics — how the flyers would be distributed, where they would be posted, and who would be reading them — made her reflect more on how these details should influence the design of these materials. She has found it to be an interesting cycle, a back-and-forth of drafts and feedback, as it is a balance of offering her skills and creating new designs and templates to show the SRO tenant leaders, but at the same time, not creating too much without first hearing the SRO tenant leaders’ input. For instance, Tori and Dani had come up with different drafts of a flyer that included a small paragraph of educational information about AQI science. However, Pratibha noted that many of the people actually reading the flyers may not speak English or may feel as though such a poster looks too much like an advertisement. Thus, we discussed ways to make the language on the flyers — something that initially seemed relatively straightforward — more friendly and local to the neighborhood so as to make them appear more personalized and more helpful to the community. For example, instead of a flyer that reads “Have you seen one of these?” with an image of a Clarity sensor on it, Pratibha suggested re-wording it to “Have you seen me in the TL?” Maya also found Prabitha’s insight provided critical framing for how to make the introduction booklet similarly accessible and relevant.
In her conversation with Professor Gonzalez, Patricia learned the importance of reviewing literature of work that has already been done when it comes to studying air quality and the impact it has on marginalized communities. She found it very valuable to learn about Professor Gonzalez's research methods and how he is able to find patterns in his data.
Critical Analysis/Moving Forward
Hearing from members of Brightline, Clarity, EJ Solutions, and Oakland Climate Action Coalition, really strengthened our group’s understanding of the larger context of our work. Brightline and Clarity allowed us to see the science behind air quality monitoring and the impact that this work hopes to have on communities. The knowledge that we gained from this presentation, alongside our continuous learning as we work with Brightline will help to not only further educate us so that we can share our knowledge of air quality with the community in simple digestible formats, but it also inspires us to be impactful leaders in the way that these organizers are. Clarity's presentation will be very helpful as we create informational material for Brightline. Furthermore, Wednesday’s presenters allowed us to frame our work in the context of environmental justice as a whole, and see how other organizations are working to improve the environmental conditions of marginalized communities. This will help us to have a better understanding of the wider impacts of EJ work and how we can incorporate different organizations’ strategies and perspectives into our work.
Tori really enjoyed being able to hear from these organizations this week and learn from the leadership and action they are taking in these communities. She hopes that she will be able to apply some of their expertise and problem solving skills as we continue our work with Brightline so that she can better understand and engage with these communities.
Update on Project Activities
Over the past two weeks we have made significant progress with collaborating on and coding the transcripts. Each of us has completely coded two full transcripts in NVIVO, using the same codebook, and we are now in the process of combining these into one large NVIVO file. Once this is done we will be able to come up with some common themes as well as some summary statistics to present to Climate Ready North Fair Oaks in our meeting with them one week from today.
In addition to transcribing and coding the interviews, we have been extensively communicating with Stephanie about expectations for our upcoming meeting with Climate Ready North Fair Oaks. These conversations have mostly revolved around what work we are expected to have completed by then, as well as what the general format of the meeting should be. From these conversations with Stephanie, we have learned the following general expectations for the upcoming meeting:
After our meetings with Stephanie about what is expected of us in the meeting with CRNFO, we have come up with a detailed agenda for the meeting in which we will share our process and key findings for the first half of the meeting, and have a discussion with the members of CRNFO for the second half of the meeting. The discussion will primarily feature questions revolving around what we may be missing or overlooking in our research, as well as what the most effective final deliverable would be. We suspect that, while we have come up with an extensive codebook for the interviews, there are most likely many intricacies in the interviews that we are missing as a result of being fairly removed from this community. We believe that our community partners’ more intimate relationship with the North Fair Oaks community will mean that they can suggest some more codes for us to consider pursuing that we may well have missed. The ultimate goal is to give CRNFO a deliverable that can help them advocate for the North Fair Oaks Community in whichever way they see most valuable. For that reason it is important to us that we take a significant amount of time to communicate with them about their needs and vision for the project.
What We Learned and Observed
Our meetings with Stephanie this week were particularly useful not only for logistical reasons, but also for making us think more critically about the community engaged research we are doing. We talked extensively about tailoring our upcoming presentation to our audience, who will not be made up of members of academia. This has implications for the way we present our research as well as the way we talk about these incredibly painful topics. Our community partners will most likely not be familiar with NVIVO software, but this by no means signifies that their input is invalid. This simply means that talking about the substance of our research is going to be more important than talking about the specifics of coding in NVIVO. Stephanie also reminded us that the pandemic has greatly affected many of the folks we will be meeting with, and as a result we must proceed with an abundance of care and compassion when we talk about these topics. This is an incredibly difficult time for a lot of people, and we need to be mindful of the ways in which we speak about sickness, economic hardship, food insecurity, etc. It was really helpful for Stephanie to remind us of this and bring it to the forefront of the way that we go about this process. Overall we are incredibly grateful to her for helping us be more mindful in our approach to this community based research.
Critical Analysis/Moving Forward
Much of what we learned over the past two weeks from this project (as well as from the course material) is that our community partners make our research better! Our research is not improved by thinking that we academics are the world’s saviors, in fact, that kind of attitude is incredibly debilitating to the significance of our work, especially when it needs to be based in community. This upcoming meeting is an opportunity to receive feedback on what we can do better and how we can be of more use to the North Fair Oaks community. Ultimately, incorporating feedback and ideas from CRNFO at every step of this process will mean that our research will be able to better understand the complexities of the situation, which will in turn result in better advocacy and results for North Fair Oaks. This attitude of doing community based research with our community partners, as opposed to for them, is what we believe will make this project a success.
Moving forward, we have our agenda set for our meeting on Friday, and the only thing left for us to do is compile all of our NVIVO projects into one master file to be able to look at all of our data in one place. We have started this process already and will most likely complete it in the next couple of days. We have also scheduled a meeting with just the students for next week so we can better prepare for the meeting with CRNFO. After that meeting with CRNFO on Friday, we believe we will have a much more defined direction to pursue for the rest of the quarter, and we look forward to seeing what our final deliverable will look like!
Update on project activities:
To date, our team conducted its first SNAP Online Guide interview and we are in the final stages of securing our second interview. We are hoping, given the decision to utilize a notetaker, to open up the interview process to the broader group and achieve greater scheduling flexibility. The unBox team has also expressed an interest in participating, especially in the early stages of interviewing, in the hopes of course-correcting and adapting the interview process in real time based on preliminary feedback.
Leading up to the interview, we received excellent and thorough feedback from unBox regarding the interview protocols and line of questioning. They have been extremely generous with their time and actively involved every step of the way. Last week we discussed and brainstormed through some of the tensions between securing interview data, and retaining its accessibility in order to compile and analyze our findings in a collaborative setting. We have determined to keep our documents in a “Google Drive” so long as they contain no indicators of interviewee identity.
In terms of the interview document, the primary tension seems to lie in balancing a series of open-ended, food-security related questions that give context to the SNAP participants accessing the online shopping guide, as well as reserving time to troubleshoot our way through the set-up process and get the primary-target feedback that is for the OPP itself. We are currently considering the pros and cons of demographic questions and brief surveys to assess food security as defined by the USDA.
That being said, following up with our unBox community partners after our first interview, we have decided to modify our interview questions slightly to expand the time dedicated to user feedback on the online guides. unBox has developed both an in-depth and flyer-style guide to participating in SNAP benefits through online shopping. It is our hope to expose our interviewee first to the denser guide, and later garner their feedback from the experience by having them also take a look at the flyer. We hope this will prompt the interviewee to highlight what is missing, and what is excessive in terms of guidance in the realm of online grocery shopping and EBT set-up.
In other news, the unBox team has provided us with an interview sign-up resource. They will be forwarding this form to their own community partners and our team will continue to reach out based on our own contacts.
In terms of BAC content creation, we are continuing to assist with data input and verification in the database for Public Free Food services in the Bay Area. We have also continued to check in with Charlie through Slack and Zoom, and we participated in a meeting where we discussed charting a roadmap for data entry.
What we observed and learned:
The first SNAP Online Guide interview was conducted Friday Oct. 16th over Zoom. We had one team member note-taking and one team member conversing with the interviewee using the SNAP interview questionnaire. The interviewee was extremely open and forthcoming--so much so that, at times, the interview questions that were meant to prompt, seemed to get in the way of an extant narrative. Circling back to the prescribed questions felt like cutting that narrative short and often, as though it was revealing assumptions of homogeneity built into the framework of questionnaire-based interviews. Secondarily, a good period of time is needed to walk through the online guide itself. We hit a roadblock at “step 1” due to what appears to have been a change in the online landscape of Amazon itself, at least for the interviewee. This, however, was an important insight that will lend itself to an easy opportunity for improved guide accessibility. It is the nature of retail websites to change, and the guide itself should account for and be able to adapt to this. Ultimately, the hour was up before we were able to set our interviewee up with their online EBT purchasing account and we ultimately extended the time in order to execute the set-up.
As we verify data for the BAC database, we have continued to see the significant value bayareacommunity.org has for its residents. Since there has not been a centralized and comprehensive space containing all of the public free food services in the Bay Area, it can make information about these resources more difficult to locate. When this data is consolidated into a single database, we think it will allow for more accessible information for people in need.
Critical analysis/Moving forward:
The interview elicited a nuance that went unseen during the development process. The opening segment felt like a survey, the intermediate introduced more of a personal narrative-based structure, and a third process involved specific technical feedback. Each of these moved at a different pace and it was difficult, being in the interview, to step outside and analyze whether or not the process registered as a cohesive experience.
When time ran out it felt extractive to stop the interview short of the point of completing what had felt like a soft guarantee to the interviewee. That is, setting up their online EBT payment method through the website.
When we reached and passed the hour mark, and had not yet set up the interviewee’s EBT card, we asked the interviewee if they would like to continue and set up the EBT. The interviewee expressed a strong interest in continuing. We were ultimately able to set up the card, but would like to acknowledge the dual possibilities that the interviewee may have wanted to stay on the call to get their EBT set up, but also that they might have felt pressure to generate a “successful” experience for our team.
Moving forward in the interview process it seems best to plan for this eventuality. For our next interview, we are prioritizing maintaining the hour time limit with potential follow up in case the interviewee expresses an interest in setting up the online EBT if we are not able to do so during the allotted time. Speaking with our community partners, Charlie and Isabel, we determined that the easiest way to move toward this goal is to allow more time allotted for user testing for the SNAP Online Guide by condensing preliminary questions, and taking out the unguided shopping portion in order to allow for more direct use of the SNAP Online Guide itself.