1) Update on Project Activities
In last week’s blog, we mentioned setting up logistical infrastructure for our project. This week, we set up the interface that will allow us to successfully interact with CLSEPA’s former clients.
Jason, our community partner, emailed us survey questions for our review, which we later translated into Spanish. Some of the clients we will be speaking with do not understand English, so we created a script that will facilitate the translation process when speaking to them on the phone.
After signing Non-disclosure Agreements and other volunteer paperwork, we were given the data for approximately 200 former clients, all of whom we are expected to call and collect more data from. Jason sent us a spreadsheet with all of the relevant data that he compiled for us in order to proceed with the project. Starting next week, we plan to start calling clients and recording information using a Google survey form that will easily compile the information for us. Our goal, moving forward, is to call approximately 20 clients per week each, which will give us space to try clients who don’t respond the first time again.
Earlier this week, we were required to attend an ArcGIS workshop class, which we learned a lot from (thanks, David!). After we’ve collected some data from clients in this next week, we hope to come up with interesting and useful ways of representing our collected data using ArcGIS software.
2) What We Observed/Learned
Signing the NDA and volunteer paperwork really opened our eyes: the project was becoming a little more “real.” We realized that we’ll be dealing with sensitive information and that we are expected to uphold a certain level of explicit trust with CLSEPA and implicit trust with the former clients. Deland also raised a good point in that our group should develop a strategy for having open conversations of affordable housing, sustainability, and other main themes, while remaining cognizant to maintain client confidentiality.
We expect that it will be challenging to speak to some of these clients. Although our primary purpose is to collect data, our human nature is to empathize with their situation. Jason warned us that some clients may want someone to talk to about their situation on a more emotional and psychological level. In terms of volunteer-client interaction, our only expectation is to ask the survey questions and collect data, so we will need to learn to strike a balance between listening to former clients’ responses to survey questions and tangential stories that they may feel the need to express.
The information that we collect will be a mixture of quantitative and qualitative. The challenge here is finding a meaningful way to represent it using ArcGIS software. In this week’s workshop, we learned of the infinite possibilities to use ArcGIS to map our data, and of how easy it is to convolute that data by including too much information. It is our priority to present our data in a fashion that is clear to understand and leaves little room for dispute.
David Medeiros, Geospatial Instruction & Reference Specialist, made us aware of the wealth of information that the Geospatial Lab holds and the resources available to us as students. We really appreciated him taking the time to lead this workshop because the intricacies of both ArcMap and ArcGIS make these programs daunting for first time users. Before the ArcGIS workshop, our only focus was creating a map that showed the movement of people from their original residences to where they moved after eviction, however, we were shown tools that allow us to correspond this movement to other socioeconomic factors based on the layers we choose to invoke. One of the most interesting things that David touched upon was the difference between vector and raster images. Choosing between the more basic, geometric vector images and the complex, real-life raster images changed the aesthetic of the overall product immensely.
With a basic understanding of the two ArcGIS programs under our belt, we are eager to begin collecting good data as a foundation for these future images.
3) Critical Analysis
Even as we just first begin to make calls, it is already becoming clear that we will have to find a way to communicate the impact of their contributions. These are populations that have already been isolated and victimized by institutions that are supposed to protect them. It is our suspicion that it will be hard for them to trust us right off the bat. We will have to communicate with each other to figure out strategies that promote safeness and help them to understand where the information will be going and what impact it will have on public policy and future generations. In particular, since we are interfacing very personally with the populations, we will have to tread carefully about our Stanford affiliation. Our first step is setting up voicemails for our google voice accounts that align themselves with CLS-EPA and make it very clear who we are working for.
The questions that we will be using for the survey were supplied by Jason and while we did some preliminary revision, it will be very important for us to have continual revision throughout the process. Part of sharing strategies will be to share how different people/populations react to certain questions or whether different wording will be more effective for the type of responses that we want.
Along with communicating the impact of their responses, it will also be important that our final deliverable is accessible not just to policymakers, but to the populations that the evictions are impacting. We will have to work heavily with the GIS lab experts to create a map that is understandable to anyone that accesses it and needs the information. Ultimately, we’d like our final map to create a very clear mandate about the state of things now and what should be done about it.