Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Infrastructure Part I & II (Groups 3 & 4)

This week, the two groups continued working on mapping out the infrastructure elements in New Jersey. After break, each group plans to make their site visits to take pictures of the infrastructure elements they will be researching in their project. This week, I also interviewed members from each group about their progress so far and their expectations for the rest of the semester. Here are a few excerpts from the interviews:

Interview #1—Wyliena Guan (Group 3)

Q: What has been the most challenging part of the project so far?

A: It has been using the program, the technology, to get this project completed. To use this program on my own, finding the info (where to get it on the internet)... having to refind, re-set the data, trying to use the program on my computer… has been a little bit of a pain. Besides that, it’s not so bad. I really like it.

Q: What city will you be traveling to, and what do you hope to find there?

A: I will be traveling to New Brunswick, or Newark, with my entire group…. (When I go to the city) we will be looking for basic infrastructure elements. What we have been trying to map out using the GIS programs.

Q: Why are the infrastructure elements you are researching important?

A: When you try to implement any project, plan, etc, it all goes back to the infrastructure. If a plan isn’t working, you resort back to (analyze) the infrastructure. For example (as in one of our readings) when trying to provide health care to Puerto Rican women, a big problem was having convenient (health care institution) hours for the women, providing a place where they could go for childcare… little things like that. Even though you don’t think of it as that important, and think of them as pretty minor, it is those sorts of details that can make or break a program…any endeavor that you are going to go after.

Interview #2—Alexandra Satty (Group 4)

Q: What has been the most challenging part of the project so far?

A: Utilizing the mapping program that the GIS librarian showed us has been pretty difficult. The programs look like they can do some incredible things, but it’s very complicated to figure out. In addition, trying to figure out how to combine all the data sets we are finding in the most useful way seems like it will be rather challenging.

Q: Do you think anything that you have learned thus far in “the Politics of Race and Health in America” has changed the way you think about elements pertaining to this project? If so, what and how?

A: I think the idea of race being a social construct is really interesting to consider when looking at census data, and specifically maps based on this data pertaining to racial distributions. When looking at a map, race seems very black-and-white (or, in the case of the maps we looked at today, red-and-yellow) – red areas have a high percentage of blacks, while yellow areas have a low percentage of blacks. However, after considering the idea of race as a social construct, you start to think about how all this data is not as clear cut as it sometimes seems, which was something I found rather interesting.