Last Sunday, we had another full team check-in meeting and discussed the progression of our research. Many sub-project teams had gathered most of their data through interviews, literature reviews, and combing through public data portals. As we continued to analyze all we had collected, our thoughts turned to deliverables and the big picture. In class, we chose which sub-project elements will be displayed with maps and started to think about other formats as well, including charts and infographics. On Friday, Hannah and Jose discussed the progress of the Stanford and Salinas teams and clarified a few communication issues. Here are some more detailed descriptions of our sub-project activities this week:
- Public Health: For our sub project, we have covered a wide range of items. First, I was able to establish definitions for food desert, mental health and art. For instance, food desert will be identified via mapping by understanding the incomes of certain communities through the census data. According to the USDA, the root of food deserts is due first by community poverty, meaning certain areas may not have the funding to bring in or continue local businesses. I think this is a wonderful lead to go off of. After establishing the definition, I needed to understand the geography and basically the location of Salinas a little more. Using something as simple as google maps and other online USDA maps, I was able to see the general areas of homes and their proximity to places of agriculture. For example, many of the areas of agriculture are not directly within communities but may surround urban areas. I still need to continue to identify where there are green spaces within urban areas. Interestingly enough, there have been studies/efforts to create community gardens as a way to combat food deserts. However, again I need to establish where. Addresses at this point are important for me to keep track off so that I can relay them to another partner to be mapped.
Lastly, my partner has done interviews about mental health, and overall public health. He is working on contacting the arts council about digitizing the art murals around Salinas and providing the data about the artists. Hopefully we also try to understand if the are art organizations and how close they are to urban communities. Some future things could include contacting: 1. Mosquito Abatement might have the information on parks and geography. 2. Salinas Parks Master Plan from previous years.
Segregation: I spent much of this week getting my ArcMap segregation model to work. I had set a goal at the previous weekend’s check-in meeting of making a functional model, and I’m happy to say that this was more or less accomplished. The model allowed me to input the deviational ellipses I had generated for each racial group and get a segregation index for each decade. I also started collecting data that I can use in a correlation analysis of segregation, including GINI indices (income inequality) and data on age, educational attainment, and language fluency. To learn more about geospatial resources on campus, I also attended GIS Day. Speakers discussed interesting topics like drone mapping and AI, but they also provided information about more accessible resources like EarthWorks, an inter-university map and geospatial data repository.
What We Observed and Learned
Now that our research questions have finally solidified and the final presentation is fast approaching, we realize that we must figure out our deliverable formats sooner rather than later. In some cases, our findings can be easily displayed, like mapping food deserts or showing images of local murals. However, some sub-projects deal with incredibly complex issues that are not so easy to depict.
Additionally, we have improved our communication skills by discussing and explaining the technical details of our sub-projects. In this project of projects, it is easy to get stuck in one’s own silo and forget to explain technical terms and methodologies. By checking in with each other regularly, we are forced to practice explaining our research in more accessible terms and to think about how our sub-projects fit together. As some sub-project teams continue their literature reviews, they have found interesting issues that link their sub-project to others, proving how interconnected urban issues really are. Lastly, Anpo noted that keeping a running document between partners is a great way to stay consistent with communication and updating articles.
The lessons we have learned from intra-group communication issues, while frustrating, will be incredibly useful if we apply them to our presentations. One of our presentation audiences is intimately familiar with the city of Salinas but may not be familiar with the details of demographic/spatial research, while the other audience is made up of academics and urbanists who may never have even visited Salinas. In both situations, we will need to clearly and concisely explain unfamiliar topics or methodologies without compromising our findings. Many of our in-class lectures have detailed similar challenges that urban planners face, like communicating with linguistically diverse residents in San Francisco or discussing the financial pros and cons of flood mitigation with local business owners. As we prepare our presentations, it is critical that we include explanations of acronyms and technical terms, geographic and historic context for the city of Salinas, and easily readable graphics. Beyond these considerations, one of the best ways we can prepare is to try to anticipate which questions the audience might ask and prepare to answer them in detail. For now, we are keeping on with our research and it is extremely fascinating to learn how much all of our sub projects rely on one another.