Full of excitement, flocks of PLACEers boarded TriMet and sped towards downtown and across the East Side. Arriving in Pioneer Square, my group promptly pulled out our phones, searching for Pokémon while we looked for fellow teenagers to ask them to answer our carefully curated survey.
The survey consisted of questions about their knowledge and preparedness regarding the impending Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquake. We searched through the city, running into friends and strangers, sprinting to transfer from the MAX to a nearby bus as it pulled out of its stop. We made it back to the CENTER and reflected on what we had seen. We received over 350 responses from teens in Portland in only a few days!
Over 50% of our surveyed individuals do not feel prepared for the earthquake! It’s time for us to get cracking on some solutions!
Today, we started out the day with a conversation about interacting with people in a friendly, and professional manner. This led to a review of the survey, in which we were able to draw some loose conclusions on the data collected so far. We weren’t all that surprised by some of the answers, especially to the question of preparedness for the earthquake.
Personally, I am very glad that we have the chance to do this project, because it’s a very important issue to address. Taking a break from the project, we took a look at an example for the Art For Change project- River by Leon Bridges. The video, paired with the music, was a very touching experience, and was a very powerful statement. After, Amelia gave a presentation of poem she had written about the homeless population in Portland, and her relationship and attitude with/towards them. We then split into smallish groups and traveled to different areas throughout the city where teens might be, and had them take the survey through a physical copy.
My group biked down to the Lloyd center mall, but we didn’t really find any youth there at all. We headed on to Benson, and got a couple surveys filled out there before we biked the 2 miles to Grant, not knowing another group had already been there. We did get 1 or 2 surveys from people that were missed, but had to hurry back at about 12:40. It was a little disheartening to know that some of the data was lost because surveys were incomplete, but the numbers ticked up to 200 responses on the online survey alone.
Lastly, there was a circle of appreciation, and a lot of people made some comments that really resonated with the group. We really have become a team, and it’s nice to have a space to be so open in about our thoughts and feelings, so thank you to all of you for participating in this program and putting forth your efforts, and really wanting to be here. Thank you most of all to George, whom without, this program wouldn’t be possible.
Today I worked hands on by passing out surveys at Grant High School. The purpose was to fulfill the duty of getting data, which was later analyzed. Something I observed throughout the process was the variety of people that I met and made conversation with.
The majority of the masses were Caucasian males between the ages 13-15, and although a lot of them came from different backgrounds, their data trended in the same direction. Most of them knew about the great earthquake, but little to none knew how to prepare when it actually arrives, which personally seemed troubling.
What I can conclude from this is that it highlights the need for education and awareness around preparation for natural disaster among the youth, and families. In addition the boys who fell on the younger side of the age scale felt they were too young to take action, which is false communication. I think it is important to continue spreading word of the great quake, and making it clear that all ages are old enough to participate.
We started out the day by finalizing the survey we were planning on sending out at the end of the day. We talked about how we can improve our questions to get the best data possible. We decided on a few types of questions that we would then put on the survey. After coming up with survey strategies we split into our separate groups and began to work on the project.
I am a part of the group assigned to collect expert interviews, so when we split into groups we began to reach out to more “experts”. Last weekend for homework we all emailed one expert to try and set up an interview time with them sometime this week. A few of us had received emails with days and times that would work to do phone interviews while others had to dig further to reach there experts. In my case I emailed the president of Jefferson High School asking to set up a quick interview sometime this week, but he responded saying the Vice Principle would be better suited for this interview. After sending a few emails we had an interview set up for 11:30 that day. In this interview we talked to Desiree Williams from BPS and asked her a wide variety about her work and how we could model her work in our project. Desiree’s work focuses on Equity and she talked to us about incorporating equity in our project. This was a very interesting interview for our group and it highlighted the significance of incorporating a wide range of youth in portland In our project.
After lunch, we were convened as a group and played the game “Spent.” Spent is a fascinating game that is used as a tool to replicate and put into perspective the struggles that families living paycheck to paycheck go through everyday. In this game you start with 1000 dollars and have to be able to survive a month and at the end pay that months rent on your house. This game really highlights the everyday complications there people have to go through in all aspects of there life. The questions that I found the most interesting were the ones that made me question my moral compass, an example of this is the question that said something along the lines of, “You slid off the road and hit a car you can either A. Pay 500 dollars to have the persons car fixed or B. drive off and pay nothing.” This question was very intriguing to me because it put me in a tough situation rather to do that morally correct thing and pay for the car or drive off in save my money. It was these types of questions that really made me think about the struggles people living in poverty go through daily.
Overall today my group made solid progress on our part of the project and I learned a ton more about the struggles of living in poverty.
Today, we had the honor of learning how to tell a story using multiple media sources from the US Department of Fish and Wildlife. We first analyzed techniques from youtube videos that successfully got their message across. One of the videos used a plain book and wrote/drew images and phrases in each page to get their message across. This method kept my attention as each page not only had extremely simple images and phrases but had a new way of putting those images and phrases on the page.
Another video we analyzed was what we believed to be a hardcore outdoor video. We looked at how this video targeted a specific group of audience (hardcore outdoor people) and questioned how we would target our audience, teenagers. In the group I was in, we concluded that teenagers valued their social life thus a video that depicted friends and family would be most impactful to our targeted audience.
We also took a look at how to tell a story and convey a message through an image. One of the images that really stuck with me was an image with the year the individual in the image was born, next to the year (implied) that that individual would die which was covered by a seatbelt.
During lunch, we were visited by a PLACE alumni who showed us his project and work. His project was a website that told multiple people’s stories. The dedication and passion that he showed towards this website was astounding. Even though the way his website told stories was vastly different from the examples from the US Department of Fish and Wildlife, I believe that his website’s message came through just as loud and just as clear.
In what I hope isn’t going to become the norm, we began yet another day with the discussion of a tragic event that had occurred the evening before. It feels as though the frequency of deadly conflicts between citizens and police is increasing, and although that feeling may be due in part to sensationalism by the media, it’s sobering to be confronted by yet another incident of racial tensions leading to such overt violence.
After we talked about the Dallas sniper attack, a visiting group of professionals from the US Department of Fish and Wildlife rotated us through three stations. In each one we learned about different mediums (stop-motion film, 2D artwork, infographics, etc.) that we can potentially use when creating resources for our Mercy Corps project, the overarching theme being to know one’s audience. A particularly interesting principle that we learned about was KISS (keep it simple, stupid), which is a guideline we’ll likely follow when trying to make earthquake preparedness information easily digestible for Portland youth.
In the last few hours of the day we got into our research groups and worked on the client project. A visiting PLACE alumni provided lunch time inspiration with talk of his accomplishments and current involvements, and we finally wrapped up with an overview of our weekend goals for the project. With just nine days left in the program, I’m looking forward to seeing how we manage to successfully complete this before the deadline.
Today, we discussed the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, talked to two local government officeholders and then discussed our thoughts. To me, one of the most striking points was that we are not concerned with injustice beyond what we perceive to be our community. For example, Iraq experienced its deadliest terror attack since 2003 on Sunday, which claimed around 300 people’s lives. However, since most Americans do not see Iraqis as part of their community, discussion and displays of sympathy have been minimal.
Another point that stood out is that we have become accustomed to seeing violence and hatred around us. We expect suicide attacks in the Middle East and police shootings in the US. Just as in the case of the Flint water crisis and the revelation of the NSA’s domestic surveillance, we experience a short burst of outrage and nothing more when a new issue comes to light. We do not feel directly affected, so we move on with our lives and forget about these problems.
It is highly unlikely that we, as a global community, will ever be able to solve all of our major problems. However, that should not stop us from trying. As our local government officials told us, making a change is not necessarily difficult. Voting, which only takes a couple of hours per year, can have a profound positive impact on our lives and those of the people around us.