With Jennifer out of town this week, we focused our attention on demographic research and the literary analysis. We are hoping that we can use the case studies we find in the literary analysis to give us ideas to help ‘humanize our data.’
We found Vivian’s presentation to be very relevant to our project because she discussed how shopping locally can help improve the economic development of a city. We can apply this concept to Los Altos because we learned through our various visits with merchants and officials that one of the biggest challenges to retail in Los Altos is leakage. Leakage occurs because many residents go to the Stanford Shopping Center where they can find many big name stores, such as Nordstrom or Neiman Marcus, rather than patronizing smaller, locally owned stores. While we recognize that the Stanford Shopping Center is very convenient and enjoyable for the community, we think we can develop some strategies to increase the number of residents staying within Los Altos to shop. We spent an afternoon over the weekend exploring downtown Los Altos to better understand what types of retail dominated the area; this field experience helped us better understand this issue.
In class, Vivian mentioned that Chinatown had a Noodle Fest where festival goers could try different dishes from various restaurants within North Beach and Chinatown. Maybe Los Altos could do a community day that emphasizes the historic aspects of the city, as many residents find the historic part of the city to be integral to the culture of the community.
Additionally, after talking with Deland during class we realized that a big part of humanizing our data and finding the social equity part of the project is to take the data and find where the gaps are. For example, she mentioned that there is a homeless shelter around Los Altos, are people in Los Altos going to this shelter? Maybe not all residents fit the affluent stereotype we assumed when beginning this project.
What we learned
After speaking with Los Altos locals, our peers, and Deland, we realized that one of our greatest challenges was incorporating social impact into our project. We’ve been given large amounts of data to sift through and analyze, but were not quite sure how to add a humanizing element to our project. In light of this, we’ve decided that searching for underserved, or “invisible” portions of the Los Altos population will allow us to develop social impact within the scope of our project. We will aim to understand how certain groups might have fallen through the cracks in Los Altos, and how they might be better served.
Next week our strategy is to begin compiling our sources we individually researched for the literary review. We also are hoping to meet with Jennifer and review her feedback on the charts we sent her. We also plan to discuss the format she would like for the final report so we can begin to prepare for the final deliverables due in a few weeks.
So far, we’ve been studying economic development plans for cities with similar demographics/economies. Examples include Menlo Park, Marin County, and Foster City. We plan to focus on how their plans deal with existing or potential income inequality, housing prices, and frail retail sectors in order to understand how they might make their respective economies more resilient.