Challenges for Urban Food Access in an Era of Big Data
June 20, 2016
When standing in the middle of the transit hub in Charlotte, the noise of buses and passengers overwhelms the senses. Over twenty bays serve at least that many bus lines, and the roof amplifies brake sounds, honking, engine noises, and chatter. My students astutely suggested that interviews would be nearly impossible to record. But over several years, we collected interviews and surveys in this space, studying how transit riders in Charlotte accessed fruits, vegetables, and other foods. We wrote reports for our partner organization, Friendship Gardens, about the perception and use of the mobile farmers market they provided at the transit hub on Thursday afternoons.
Building Bridges to Where?
Sustainability Collaborations and the Arts of Ethnography
March 18, 2015
I was in a group of ten or so engineers, business representatives, nonprofit workers, and a government employee, discussing whether we could develop a definition of social sustainability, which we understood as the third and neglected leg of the sustainability “stool” of environment, economics, and society. Like some other topics, it seemed that while we knew it when we saw it, we were hesitant to draft a definition or even a broad characterization. The reasons for and the degree of hesitancy varied from person to person, making the conversation even more difficult. Defining something meant limiting it, and our readings in the area warned us away from a specific delineation; we all seemed to shy away from a strict definition. Yet whether or not to characterize it was still up for debate—some in the group argued that this too would limit the scope of “social sustainability,” preventing us from engaging with those outside of this scope. Others found it a practical necessity to have some way to describe social sustainability, even if the characterization focused on its processes rather than its elements.