Blog 3: End of Summer Report

While this will be my final report, we will be continuing our research throughout the fall and spring semester to produce a larger, more comprehensive understanding of environmental groups in city areas. The data we have collected so far are only a portion of the complete data set we hope to publish and present.

With Professor Pajo out of the country for a few weeks, Amanda and I got to tour and interview a location without supervision. We arrived at the location, knocked on the door and were immediately greeted by our future interview subject. I found this experience to be nerve-wracking at first, but once we sat down and started speaking with the subject the interview flowed much more smoothly and we were able to record for over thirty minutes. Once the interview was over, we were able to casually speak about the project and other potential subject for touring. This subject was particularly helpful in providing us with information of another member in their environmental organization and listing other organizations we should contact.

After the first location, we started out trip to another location that had agreed to meet and speak with us. Along the way, I received a text from my contact at the organization that they would no longer be able to speak with us because another meeting had come up. Amanda and I decided to visit the location anyways. I have visited the location before to complete volunteer hours but Amanda had never seen the location before. Upon arriving, we walked through the location and took a couple of pictures before walking out. While leaving we ran into the volunteer coordinator and the program coordinator of the organization. They apologized for not being able to speak with us and asked that we reschedule for a later date.

Overall, I believe this summer has been a great start for our research. We started with little ethnographic experience outside of the classroom and now are able to touri locations and interview participants on our own. I’ve learned how important it is to stay organized with data and keeping a schedule that allows me to pay extra attention to keeping in contact with organizations. I’m extremely excited to continue this research into the academic year.

Blog 2: First Data Collected

Our summer research started slow due to some issues with the Institutional Review Board, which reviews ethics and approves research . While we thought we had made a credible argument to be able to waive, not informed consent but to waive documentedconsent, the IRB asked us to modify our research protocol multiple times before approving it. (The waiver was not granted.) Though our experience with the IRB is not uncommon for ethnographic fieldwork, our team was anxious to start the research so the delay did not please us.

During this time, we were able to collect the names of places we planned on visiting , but we could not reach out or contact any of them until we acquired approval. Once our research was approved, each student met with Professor Pajo individually to review the new participant consent form and consent process. The next weekend, Professor Pajo and I, visited our first location, a green market that is held in the city every Saturday. For over an hour, we walked along the stalls taking in who was there and what was being sold. As this visit was during the heatwave, not all vendors were present, and it affected what goods could be sold. There were a variety of products including fresh produce, herbs, jams, and flowers. We spoke with several individuals, two who agreed to be interviewedthe following week. I also walked up and down the market by myself a few times documenting the people and stalls in fieldnotes and in photographs. We plan to hopefully visit the market again on a date that is not affected by dramatic weather to collect more data.

I believe that the green market was a great first site visit for me. I was able to watch and listen to Professor Pajo as she interacted with people we hoped to agree to be our participants, and I had a chance to ask informants a few questions of my own. As there are many people at the green market, it is easy to not feel out of place as a researcher. I am interested to learn more about the activities that take place at the green market, such as composting, and how the stall vendors find themselves supporting the environment.

In the last month I have also come to understand the challenge of setting times and scheduling when to practice my research in the middle of summer. I have been focusing a lot of attention into job hunting and am finding it hard to balance between the two, but I look forward to taking this as a part of the learning curve. I believe what we are doing now will make research later in the year feel easier and smoother. I still believe that I would like to continue with ethnographic research in the future.

Blog 1: Preparing to Research

The title of our research project is Environmental Discourse and Diversity in Urban Settings. The research team is made up of four students, including myself, and led by Professor Pajo. We plan to visit multiple environmental groups located in New York City and Los Angeles to create an ethnographic map of environmental and community practices. The first step, which will take place this summer, consists of visiting various environmental groups and taking notes on their views on sustainability and what practices the group engages in. Amanda Rosenholtz and I will visit 10 sites each in New York City while Zoe Kim visits 10 sites in Los Angeles. We hope that studying more than one urban setting will prevent us from drawing conclusions specific to the New York area. We will visit a wide range of sites, each focusing on a separate environmental issue such as can collection, community gardens, urban farms, and sustainable living.

My goal for this summer is to take my first steps towards real academic research. With guidance from Professor Pajo, I hope to gain ample experience of ethnography and a better understanding of how it takes place in reality. While I have some experience in ethnographic research from the class Urban Ethnography that I took with Professor Drury , I have yet to interact face-to-face with subjects for interviews. Additionally, I hope to understand how to properly collect and analyze data and draw conclusions as the summer progresses.

The majority of our data will be qualitative and collected through interviews, site tours, and focus groups at each organization. We will interview three individuals at each location for a deeper understanding of how they perceive climate issues and what sustainable practices are most important to them. We also hope to gain an understanding of how such communities are organized. We will also collect some quantitative data through surveys to understand the diverse factors that characterize the people and groups we visit. We are interested in the diversity of both environmental groups and those in the community.