Update on Project Activities
This week we met with our community partners that represent The City of Mountain View. In that meeting we refined the initial draft of our survey, decided on project scope and determined final deliverables. Regarding project scope, initially the goal was to collect data in-person that would represent the entire city. However, the amount of canvassing necessary to produce that data was deemed to be too much for a quarter-long project. As such, the survey to gauge the connectedness of Mountain View residents will first be delivered electronically. The plan is to advertise the survey across The City of Mountain View’s social media channels. Once some preliminary responses are collected, neighborhoods that are not well represented on that survey will be canvassed or reached via a community liaison, such as a City of Mountain View’s Spanish Speaking Ambassador. We plan on presenting our findings to a member of the leadership team of Community Services Agency, a nonprofit that provides basic necessities to those in need. We may potentially present to the Trancos dorm as well, given its theme of equity and social justice.
What We Observed and Learned
When creating and revising the survey, we had some interesting debates. One was how to best represent the location of a survey participant. Our community partner is interested in knowing geographically who within Mountain View is connected to the internet and who is not. Thus, geographic information is incredibly important, but something like a street address is too identifiable. In addition, we want our survey participants to represent the entirety of Mountain View, which means ensuring that the voices of individuals without an address need to be heard. With the help of our community partners, we decided to ask survey participants to identify their neighborhood, as defined by The City of Mountain View. This approach has its benefits, such as the fact that a permanent address is not necessary and an included visual makes determining the correct neighborhood doable even if one does not drive and may not know the roads well. However, income disparity within a neighborhood can be quite vast. For example, some neighborhoods have homes that sell for over 3 million dollars, while within that same neighborhood a few streets away, some of the lowest income Mountain View residents reside. Even though we are making a region so broad, we need to ensure that the voices of the affluent and those connected to them within a neighborhood don’t drown out those that don’t have access to wifi.
Critical Analysis/Moving Forward
Our next steps include finalizing the survey to be advertised on social media platforms and attending the City of Mountain View’s Spanish Speaking Ambassador’s meeting to recruit survey participants that may not be digitally connected. As we begin interacting with the community, our group took time to reflect on our current engagement with our community partner, as well as our upcoming in-person engagement with the Mountain View community. As was mentioned in class on Monday, we want to be mindful of our partnership. This is why we chose to create an exit plan now for the end of the quarter detailing how we plan on transferring knowledge. We also are trying to be listening to the residents. For now, that means ensuring that the survey is bilingual and includes demographic/income options that span a wide range. When we interact at the City of Mountain View’s Spanish Speaking Ambassador’s meeting we will heed the warnings in “To Hell with Good Intentions.” Rather than be like the “North American volunteer armies from Latin America - missionaries, Peace Corps members and groups...organized for the benevolent invasion of Mexico,” we want to listen and react to residents. We need to be open to the fact that we may need to change our survey if it isn’t meaningful to those that don’t speak English or aren’t digitally savvy.