Update on Project Activities
During the past two weeks our team has been doing survey work in the field at various community events. On Thursday afternoons we’ve been working at a food distribution event at the Mouton Center, and last Saturday we worked at the Latinx festival at the East Palo Alto Library. We have been fortunate and grateful that the Acterra team has taken on the digital inputting of the paper surveys, so we have been updating our spreadsheets with the new data. The key data points that we wish to investigate are climate change awareness in relation to age, ethnicity, and response language.
What We Observed and Learned
The opportunity to do surveying fieldwork has been a really valuable learning experience for our team. I think we all realized that surveying is much harder than it seems and now further appreciate the time and efforts it has taken just to gather the existing data we have so far. The biggest challenge in surveying is asking people for their time. The survey is rather long and involved and it is an inconvenience for people to sit down and take it. Furthermore, we have realized the importance of language in connecting with people and helping them feel comfortable. For example, on Saturday we were surveying at the Latinx festival and many of the people there were Spanish speakers. Brian is the only native Spanish speaker among our group and he was able to talk to residents and persuade them to take the survey much more easily than Steven and I could. I pushed myself to try speaking Spanish and had limited success. I think it does help people feel comfortable and trust you when you approach them in their own language.
Throughout the surveying process we have been continually changing and adapting the survey to improve it. We received feedback from the climate change community team that community members are more comfortable with using paper surveys because of unfamiliarity or distrust of technology, so we have transitioned to paper surveys at all our events. We have made note of specific areas in the survey that often get skipped and make sure to double-check that respondents fill out those sections. We also observed a need for Chinese translation in the survey materials, specifically with the group of people who attend the food distribution event. The main takeaway from our survey work is that it requires patience, community awareness, and meticulous double-checking. If a certain part of the survey is not completed, that could render the data unusable. As a result, we’ve also had to spend a good amount of time bothering people to come back and fill out the survey correctly.
Critical Analysis and Moving Forward
This weekend, we will be attending the adaptation planning meeting with East Palo Alto community groups and surveying at another food distribution event. This will be one of the last survey opportunities and we hope to make significant progress on our goal of 400 responses. We have a plan for how to proceed with the data analysis, and we hope to jump right in next week and begin spatial analysis by coding the survey addresses into GIS format through georeferencing. We will also work in Excel to sort through the survey data and find relationships between climate change awareness and age, location, and ethnicity. We will have to make decisions about which awareness metrics to use for this. We will need to check in with Derek again in the next few weeks to get a little more guidance and direction for the data analysis. Looking forward, we should continue to keep the principles of ethical and participatory research in mind, prioritizing the needs of the community in our work. This week's Wednesday class about zoning laws and CEQA was very applicable when thinking about East Palo Alto and I think we should definitely keep these considerations in mind in our work. Just being in the space, we can observe how city planning might have failed the needs of residents. For example, university avenue runs right through the city and the road is extremely busy and congested during traffic hours. We even observed signs in residential neighborhoods that said "no commuter traffic 4pm-7pm" because I imagine commuters would try to drive through residential side streets to get around traffic. This is definitely a huge environmental quality issue for East Palo residents, and although this is outside the immediate scope of our project, I wonder what work we can do around this issue.