Update on Project Activities
In the next two weeks leading up to the charrette, our team will focus on conducting more research on the health impacts that residents may face after a natural disaster. At the start of this project, the issues that immediately came to our minds when we first began considering the negative health impacts that can result from an earthquake were mostly things such as sickness from disease and physical exhaustion from the lack of food and water. But as we have continued our research we have come to realize that there are many other health related concerns we must look further into so that we may contribute to the mitigation of these other issues.
We feel that the psychological health and morale of residents after a catastrophic event is a matter that we must be prepared to bolster during trying times. And though we are sure there are ways to do this both pre-event and post-event, we do not know exactly how just yet. To address this, we will conduct research and come together as a group to brainstorm problems and solutions to health issues that may come from declining psychological health and morale.
Questions we currently want to consider include the following: What impact might fear and anxiety have on the immune system? How will living outdoors for an extended period make residents feel about the loss of physical security? Is there a way to rebuild a sense of security during this time? How can residents cope with minimal contact with family and friends? What are the varying fight-or-flight responses that residents might demonstrate after a disastrous earthquake?
There are many matters and scenarios for our team to consider, and it is important for us to explore so that we can be prepared to share as much as we can during our presentation at the charrette.
What We Observed and Learned
Throughout our classes this week we encountered the complexities of tackling local issues under complex systems of power and resource allocation at different levels of government. This raised the question of where NEN sits within the matrix of power over city recovery in case of a disaster. This will fortunately serve as an important way to contextualize our meeting next week which will go into depth over NEN. We now are more keen on thinking through the kind of power NEN might have and how it might interplay with the city, region, state, and nation in making policy decisions for recovery. It will also help us pay more attention to possible limitations.
We feel that in order to reach a better understanding of the charrette process it is good to have a broader understanding of the impacts of disaster. The issue of morale and emotional damage has deepened our understanding of disaster’s possible ramifications and will serve as yet another card to play during the charrette when attempting to elicit information. Physical survival is important but can often be limited if emotional capacity and morale is low.
The upcoming meeting on NEN will be key on clarifying what kind of information can be acted upon based on NEN’s status in terms of a larger network of local influence. Additionally, we will continue our research on past disasters and these new lenses have granted new avenues for nuancing our understanding of disaster response.
Critical Analysis/Moving Forward
We have outlined a pretty ambitious plan that will require our team to pick up our pace of work in the time period following the charrette. Reflecting on some of the concepts we have learned about ethical service through our lectures and reading, our team has set a goal to get a sufficient amount of community input into the design for this project before it is released. We have included the necessary steps to get this done before the end of our quarter in the updated Project Plan that we have sent for review to the NEN team. In summary, it includes an extra community-outreach step after the Stanford Team compiles the notes from the charrette, which will be then considered in the final toolkit framework. We hope we could get some help from the NEN team for the community outreach step, as it has the resources and connections to get community input on the notes. We are also considering conducting research in our locale to get input on how this framework might be considered by communities in the South Bay and Peninsula areas.
While we realize this may not be achievable with current resources, we hope that we can at least coordinate our efforts in setting up the infrastructure to achieve this before the Sustainable Cities course ends. These additions are open to discussion and change. We would also like to start organizing the Pre-Charrette meeting, and figure out if we would like to conduct it through a group call, or in person. Ideally, we hope we can figure out a time for which we can all meet in person sometime during the week of November 6th.
Finally, it would be great to know if there are any other calls the Stanford Team can sit in on before the charrette as well.