1) Survey: We have written a survey and translated it into Vietnamese, Spanish, and Chinese.
After exhausting the color printer in Green Library, on Wednesday, we carried our stack of surveys and fliers to San Jose.
First stop: The Flea Market
Unfortunately, the attendance rate on a Wednesday was close to zero. We have a hard time finding participants. A pair of mother and child, however, were very invested in the survey and spent ten minutes asking us questions about hazardous waste. Eventually, a vendor approached us and said that we had to register at the information booth. Walking around soliciting surveyors was not permitted.
Lesson 1: Flea markets on a weekday and soliciting survey participants are a big no-no.
Next Stop: Downtown San Jose
We stopped by the San Jose Technology Innovation Museum and explored the area for some possible project exhibitions. Unfortunately, we were not able to schedule an in-person meeting with our contact Michelle but we hope to arrange a phone conversation in the coming week.
San Jose Public Library: The crowd rushing in and out of Tully Cafe annexed to San Jose Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library gave us a great pool of people to survey. We had university students and professors from San Jose State University, city employees, Girl Scout parents and their children, and other downtown visitors.
McKinley Neighborhood Meeting: We had a great turnout at the community meeting. It was a change of environment surveying in a close-knit community setting where everyone was seated around a table and knew each other. As opposed to the surveying at the San Jose Public Library, it was easy to gage what the main concerns of the community was from the meeting and understand where household hazardous waste fit in their lives. One of the main concerns that night was the homeless population in San Jose. The police who came spoke about the Jungle, a homeless encampment that was cleared away recently. He said that because these 300 people are now without a place to settle, most of his job involves clearing away new homeless hotspots before they grow as big as the Jungle was. The problem is once he clears one, another pops up. It was humbling to see our cause in the perspective of a community agenda. That is not to say that household hazardous waste is not important, but rather, taking about homelessness or security is a more relevant topic for many residents. It is something they see and witness every day. Whereas the hefty jargon that comes with household hazardous waste can be intimidating. We need to find a way to make household hazardous waste feel as relatable as these other pertinent issues. The fact is everyone has them. People who we surveyed told that they just keep it lying in their house. Many put their motor oil, paint, and other hazardous products stored away in the garage. It exists but it can be kept out of sight and out of mind, until it comes time to move out of the house.
To help us put household hazardous cause into the political perspective, we spoke with San Jose City Council Member Raul Peralez who offered to drive us to the Caltrain station. He told us that the first thing on his agenda right now is pension reform. There are unresolved litigation that carried over into his term of office. Before he proceeds to other pertinent issues, he first needs to finalize the details on pension reform. Then, he would like to focus on affordable housing. Mr. Peralez said that Santa Clara recently closed down its only homeless shelter, sending an influx of homeless people to San Jose's already overfilling homeless shelters. While this can be perceived as problem, the influx is also a social implication. Compared to many cities in the Bay Area, San Jose is more welcoming to persons of low or modest income. They are accommodated in San Jose. Thus, Mr. Peralez wants to implement for housing to further this welcoming spirit. We were again humbled by our conversation with Mr. Peralez. If there was any takeaway from that day, it was the humbling feeling of presenting our work, the survey that was created in an academia bubble, to the forces of the real world where it took a lot of effort to draw people attention to a topic that is often dismissed amidst other worthy causes. We are not discouraged. In fact, as we hear about all the other ongoing political, social, economic happenings, we know that reaching out about hazardous waste is important. If people are continuing to come to San Jose, we need to make sure they can have a safe living environment devoid of illegal hazardous waste disposal.
Future Outreach Events:
February 22nd: San Jose Household Hazardous Waste Information Booth at Vietnamese Tet Festival Celebration
February 28th: San Jose Household Hazardous Waste Booth at Earthquakes vs. Galaxy Game
2) Tech Museum and Green Schools Collaboration: We are in the midst of jumpstarting this project: finding appropriate contacts, setting up phone calls, sharing our vision, etc. The idea is to create a collaboration between schools and the tech museum for a household hazardous waste workshop. Our main contact from the Tech Museum is Michelle and we look forward to speaking with her in the coming week.
3) GIS Map: We are compiling our Excel database sheet. We hope to finish by next week so we can start working on the template.