Update on Project Activities
This week, we had the chance to discuss the project with both Violet and Derek. On Monday, Violet gave us an overview of the project and provided us with useful information about the East Palo Alto community. On Wednesday, we met with Derek, who discussed the project in more depth with us, gave us a rundown on the current state of the project data, and took us through some of the basics of technical tools that will be useful for us while working on the project. Katherine has begun to digitize the remaining paper surveys.
What We Observed and Learned
When Violet came in to speak with us on Monday, she gave us a high-level overview of the project and explained some of the goals of the project. Violet informed us that approximately 100 residents of East Palo Alto have been surveyed, with a goal of having approximately 300 surveys completed by the end of this month (October). The objective here is to gain a better understanding of community awareness and concern regarding climate change, and particularly flood risk.
Violet also talked to us in more detail about the community of East Palo Alto to give us an idea of the demographic and resources we’ll be working with. Hispanics account for the majority of the population in all of East Palo Alto. She mentioned that the Gardens neighborhood of East Palo Alto, a majority black community located on the bay, should be of particular focus in our project, as it is the neighborhood most vulnerable to flooding. Violet explained that East Palo Alto is undergoing rapid gentrification, and residents who can no longer afford rent are being pushed out by wealthy buyers. This is creating traffic congestion with more commuters, and leading to crowded homes for poor residents. East Palo Alto does not have as many resources as other nearby Bay Area communities, and is unable to allocate an adequate amount of resources to sustainability. This is because climate change is currently not considered a priority. There is a great need to build up the institutional capacity to allow East Palo Alto to better deal with climate change.
Derek gave us a tutorial on using Geographic Information System (GIS) tools and KoBoToolbox, as well as more detailed information about the survey itself on Wednesday. The GIS tools that Derek showed us are useful as they provide a visual in order to pick representative blocks to survey. The map contains borders dividing East Palo Alto into many blocks. The map also displays the area of East Palo Alto on the bay that is at risk for flooding. The blue flood zone on the map represents the area that would be flooded with 36 inch water rise. Climate projections tell us that such a flood has a 1 in 50 chance of occurring in a given year.
Derek showed us what questions the survey consisted of, and the methods with which the completed surveys have been administered. There are two primary ways in which the survey is administered: in paper form, and in digital form. Surveying was often performed in pairs of two, with the two surveyors alternating houses while traversing a block. Originally, the target for data collection was 1 in 5 surveys completed. Unfortunately, there has been a lower than expected response rate for various reasons (no answer, refuse to take the survey, language barrier, etc). The survey is divided into three main parts: initial questions, repeats of questions after additional information was provided, and demographics. The additional information provided comes in three different forms; the level of information provided for a given survey is randomized. The three forms of information are: text + block map, text + city map, and text only. The text + block map contains general information about climate change and a map of the participant’s block, noting whether or not the block is at flood risk. The text + city map contains the same information but with a map of East Palo Alto and the area vulnerable to flooding. The text contains only the climate change information. The purpose of this is to measure how residents would respond differently when provided with varying degrees of information. Surveyors are encouraged to provide all information to participants after the survey is completed, in the interest of awareness.
Critical Analysis/Moving Forward
The main goal of this stage of the project is to gain insight into the East Palo Alto community’s awareness and concern of climate change issues. This will provide critical info on how best to allocate resources and mobilize the community to take action in the future. At this point, it looks like our next steps will be to begin planning data analysis strategies for the digitized results as the rest of the surveys are being completed this month. A few other things we plan on doing in the near future to help with this are the following: