Return to Topaz

Ken Yoshioka reflects on a trip to Topaz, Utah in response to the Thacher Gallery exhibition Something from Nothing: Art and Handcrafted Objects from America’s Concentration Camps, August 21 – November 15, 2017.

In my parent’s house sat two wooden root stands that we used for potted plants.  I had never given them much thought until I saw a wood stand carved from the trunk of a small tree in the exhibit Something from Nothing: Art and Handcrafted Objects from America’s Concentration Camps at the University of San Francisco Thacher Gallery.  To see something so beautifully created out of ordinary tree parts reminded me of a time when I took my family on a national park road trip through Utah.  When we were planning the trip back across Highway 50, my wife related that we would be passing through Delta, where the Topaz relocation camp was located.  On an impulse, I decided we should go and see the site.

Driving out to what seemed to be nowhere and seeing the desolate landscape brought me to tears as I thought of the years spent in such a place by my mom’s family.  I actually called my mom from Topaz and found out which block her family resided in during their time there.  As I remember standing in the hot sun in the place my mom was incarcerated, I am reminded of the objects of beauty in the form of arts and crafts that were created, essentially, something from nothing.  I had read that many took up a craft to deal with the “nothingness” of the camps.  My parents never really talked about the camps and it was only after researching accounts of what life was like did I realize the enormity of those years. When I spoke to my mom from Topaz, she spoke of the difficulties but also about making the best of the situation.  I actually interviewed my dad regarding his remembrances in the camp his family was incarcerated in Tule Lake.  I related that the information would be invaluable for a paper I was writing but he was insistent that those interviews were to stay private.  Two voices, one of resignation and one of bitterness, sadness and shame.

Now I look at those beautiful wood stands and I am reminded of the resilience of those who endured the camps, who endured with Gaman, meaning: “enduring the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity.”

 

 

Is Development on San Francisco’s Treasure Island Viable?

Professor Tanu Sankalia discusses the history of Treasure Island and how earthquake risk, toxic contamination, and sea-level rise still imperil plans for large-scale, capital intensive, development on the island.

The man-made, low-lying, Treasure Island in the middle of San Francisco Bay. Photo copyright Barrie Rokeach 2017.

Few Bay Area residents are entirely aware of Treasure Island’s presence, and fewer still know its history: when it was built, how it has been used over the past decades, and what are plans for its future. Despite its very central location in the San Francisco Bay, this flat, low-lying, man-made island has remained at the periphery of most people’s local and geographical consciousness.

As an architect and urban planner, Treasure Island first caught my attention when plans for its redevelopment were unveiled in 2005. The project was promoted as a cutting-edge sustainable development, especially at a time in the early 2000s when sustainability had caught on rapidly among architecture and planning firms. Yet I was intrigued as to how a multi-billion dollar development that consumed great resources, required massive new infrastructure, and was proposed on what appeared to be a risky site (more about this later), could actually be sustainable.

Over the last eight years, my research on the planning and design history of the redevelopment project, together with contributions from a group of excellent scholars on a range of historic and contemporary issues concerning the island, has recently culminated in a co-edited book, Lynne Horiuchi and Tanu Sankalia, Eds., Urban Reinventions: San Francisco’s Treasure Island published by the University of Hawaii Press. While our work focuses on a single site and underscores its local significance, it also reaches out to topics of global importance such as the Pacific Rim, New Deal, world’s fairs, World War II, Cold War military industrial complex, nuclear contamination, sustainability, and eco-cities, among others. This research has also informed my teaching as I have been able to use Treasure Island as a case study in the urban planning and design course I teach in the Masters of Science in Environmental Management (MSEM) program at USF.

The Army Corps of Engineers built Treasure Island between 1936-1937 with New Deal money. It was constructed concurrently with the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge, to serve as San Francisco’s airport, at a time of major transportation infrastructure expansion. Between 1939-1940 the island hosted the Golden Gate International Exposition (GGIE), which shifted the focus of world’s fairs as venues of science and industry to representations of international unity exemplified in the idea of a Pacific Rim interconnected through commerce and trade. World War II scuttled this utopian imagination, and in early 1942 Treasure Island was converted into an active naval base that cycled 4.5 million US soldiers on their way to and back from the Pacific theater of war. After World War II, Naval Station Treasure Island focused on training and distribution activities until it was officially closed in 1997. In 2011, the City and County of San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved a redevelopment project for a new sustainable city of 19,000 residents, which critics and commentators see as an example of twenty-first century, “ecotopian” urbanism.

Underlying Treasure Island’s historical narrative, our research found that since its conception, the island has remained a contested site with federal and local agencies vying for its control. These agencies have recurrently shaped the physical character of the island (what we call urban reinventions) through ambitious projects like the airport, world’s fair, military base and now, eco-city. But despite these important historical lessons, which are crucial in understanding how cities and communities conceive projects, the material risks—earthquakes, toxic soil and rising seas—surrounding its latest grand vision are rather pressing.

Treasure Island was built on the shoals of the natural Yerba Buena Island from dredged bay mud filled into a trough enclosed by a sea wall made of large boulders. The shoals, which function as bedrock into which tall buildings must pierce their foundations, are deeper away from the island. Although most buildings in the proposed plan are clustered where the shoals are shallower, there is considerable infrastructure on parts of the island that geotechnical reports (produced in the first reuse plan of 1996) indicate to be unstable. Given the island’s proximity to some of the Bay Area’s largest earthquake faults, a significant tremor can cause the landfill to function like jelly.

Toxic soil remains a major concern on Treasure Island. The US Navy established a Damage Control School in 1947 during its tenure on the island to train naval personnel in decontamination procedures in the event of an atomic, chemical or biological attack. For training purposes they built a mock training ship—the USS Pandemonium—from scrap metal, which was periodically contaminated with cesium-137 and a diluted solution of radioactive bromine-82. In 1971, they dragged this mock ship from the northwest to the southeast of the island further spreading radioactive substances across the island. According to the Department of Toxic Substances Control, the state agency charged with monitoring toxic cleanup at Treasure Island, the island’s soils contain a long list of toxic chemical substances harmful to humans including plutonium and radium. Furthermore, the current Historical Radiological Assessment report that the Navy must produce to guide management and remediation of toxic soils states that the island’s soils simply cannot return to their pre-military state.

Almost twenty years after the redevelopment process for the island was initiated, we have greater awareness about climate change, global warming, and one of its major effects—sea level rise. Maps produced by the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) and the San Francisco Public Press show Treasure Island and the edges of San Francisco Bay under threat from rising seas and storm surges. There are plans to raise the entire island and build a higher, stronger seawall to protect against this danger. Still there is little evidence—especially considering the example of Miami Beach, which is constantly inundated despite its massive seawalls and giant pumps—that such measures will actually succeed.

The Bay Area indeed needs more housing, which Treasure Island’s development could well deliver. There are also many good ideas such as manmade wetlands, urban agriculture and energy efficient buildings, in the redevelopment plans. But they well may be great ideas in the wrong place. Why jeopardize billions of dollars in development and risk the lives of almost twenty thousand residents on an unstable, contaminated, low-lying island site?

Looking back to the very construction of Treasure Island and its recurrent urban reinventions, I am reminded of the German writer W.G. Sebald’s prescient observation that “it is often our mightiest projects that most obviously betray the degree of our insecurity.” It is in moments of vulnerability that governments, cities, and communities take on ambitious and, often, risky projects. In recognizing this risk, it still may not be too late to rethink the viability of development on Treasure Island.

Traveling Green

School of Management Associate Professor Michelle Millar discusses sustainability in the hospitality industry and what it means to be a responsible traveler.

Image credit: sloth by henryalien, via flickr. This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC 2.0.

In 2005, my life changed when I took a trip to Costa Rica, a country well known for its natural beauty, wildlife, and commitment to sustainability and ecotourism. During my adventure, I found my way into the jungle and ended up in a small ecolodge (but that’s a story for another time!).

It was at this lodge, that my eyes were opened to the minimal impact that one business can have on the environment. For example, lunch and dinner orders were taken in the morning so that the only food ingredients purchased that day were for our meals that day, which eliminated waste from unused ingredients.

Prior to that trip, my concept of ecotourism was traveling to Oklahoma every year in a ‘67 Country Squire Station wagon– with no air conditioning, staying on a farm with my family, and taking a bath in a washtub with my sister because there was no running water.

I have learned quite a bit since then.

In 2015, just over one billion people traveled the world. That number is expected to increase to 1.7 billion by 2025. That is a lot of people moving around the world, which will no doubt have a major impact on our planet. While some of those travelers might consider themselves environmentally conscious travelers, their behavior while traveling often says otherwise.

How about you?

Are you a responsible traveler? Do you practice the same behavior when traveling as you do at home? Do you turn that water off when brushing your teeth in a hotel? Re-use your bath towels in your hotel? Or, do you “conveniently” forget all of that behavior because it’s easier when on vacation? These are the kinds of questions I like to answer with my research in the hospitality and tourism industry.

When I started researching this topic about 10 years ago, existing work focused on sustainable tourism, but no one was studying it operationally for hotels. This was at a time when the term “greening” was creating quite a buzz for hoteliers who scrambled to make their hotels environmentally friendly, but no one was talking to the guests.

Did guests even care about a green hotel? Did they even know what that meant? The hospitality industry revolves around providing quality service and exceptional experiences for its guests, but no one was even talking with them to see if staying at a green hotel was something they wanted.

Well, it turns out that guests are interested in staying in a green hotel, but they have their limits.

  • They do not mind recycling, linen-reuse programs, or efficient lighting.
  • Low-flow fixtures are okay, as long as the shower pressure is good.
  • Soap and shampoo dispensers save hugely on waste, yet guests do not want them because they are reminded too much of going to a gym.
  • They also do not want to be inconvenienced in any way to participate in a hotel’s environmentally friendly programs.
  • Recycling bins in the room are good, but bins only in the hallways or hotel lobby are an inconvenience.

It turns out travelers are picky– and despite the fact that they may say they are environmentally conscious travelers, their behaviors often do not support their attitudes. It seems that many travelers become different people when they travel.

Fortunately, hoteliers are moving forward and forging change in the industry, and as a result, traveler behavior. It saves hoteliers money and saves the environment, and at the same time, it gives them the opportunity to educate guests about environmental impact. As my research has shown, this education and change is carrying over into other sectors of hospitality. They are “training” us to be better travelers, even if it may not be top-of-mind initially. Education, education, education is what it’s all about; but then, of course I would say that!

So—the next time you travel, I challenge you to think about the type of traveler you are. Is the environment “top-of-mind” just as it might be at home? Do you elect to stay in green hotels? If so, what would you expect when staying in one?

Defending Free Speech in Academic Publishing through Copyright and Fair Use

In this blog, scholarly communication librarian Charlotte Roh addresses copyright in publishing contracts for a better understanding of how fair use operates to extend free speech to criticize, comment, and report as one normally would in the course of academic writing.

Photo by LeAnn Meyer of The University of Kansas Libraries

For academics who are new to negotiating book contracts, one of the boilerplate items that you’ll find in the contract, and quite frequently the author guidelines, is a request from the publisher to make sure that you have the right to use other people’s (copyrighted) material in your work when you submit your manuscript. This often includes asking for permission from other authors and sometimes paying the copyright holder.

However, in many instances, asking for permission isn’t necessary. You already have the right to use copyrighted work in your scholarship – it’s built into copyright law itself, which exists, “To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and  discoveries.”[1]

This is from the preamble, and note which clause came first in the mind of our founding fathers – to promote the progress of science and useful arts in our new country. Kyle Courtney, the Copyright Advisor for Harvard University, notes that copyright law, and the fair use doctrine in particular, works together with the first amendment that “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech or freedom or press” as a supplement to the Constitution, “to prevent our new government from becoming a tyranny…connected with the fundamental belief that open and informed discussion of current events promotes stability and the general security of the nation.”

I think we can all agree that the ability to report, comment, analyze, and teach is important, and depends on free speech. But it also depends on copyright law, because otherwise we would not be able to use the work of others while doing those very things. For example, Teen Vogue can screen capture and use tweets in order to report on the racism in the movie Ghost In the Shell, and I can screen capture that article from Teen Vogue in order to use it to make that educational point right here.[3]

Where is this ability to use other people’s works written in the law? Why don’t the reporters have to ask permission, or pay someone, as publishers sometimes ask authors to do? Well, it’s written into copyright law itself, and it’s called the fair use doctrine. Title 17, Section 107 of this law states:

“Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.”

This is the very same law that allows you to use works in the classroom. But hold up! Why are publishers then insistent on getting permissions for work, and why are you told not to make copies of textbooks for classes?

One reason is to mitigate legal risk – nobody wants to get sued, and many publishers operate out of an abundance of caution. But several publishers, such as UC Press, MIT Press, and Duke University Press, actually support fair use. It does behoove you to meet the standards, however, in which case you should go through the four factors of fair use. I often refer people to this handy checklist put out by Columbia University: https://copyright.columbia.edu/basics/fair-use/fair-use-checklist.html

To many people, this seems like too much work. It seems easier to ask permission than to have to rationalize what is fair use or not. But proponents of fair use will point to the music industry’s sampling market as an example of “use it or lose it.” Sampling from other musicians, musical quotation if you will, used to be free. But as profit and litigation grew, the market for sampling increased, triggering the fourth factor of fair use, that the use would not cause market harm.

What does this have to do with academics? What proponents of fair use do not want to see happen is something similar in the academic market, where you would have to license and pay for every quotation and excerpt.[4] In fact, scholars, lawyers, and librarians now celebrate Fair Use Week in order to raise awareness so that we don’t lose the right to challenge, criticize, correct, parody, and speak out. I think this is particularly important in this era of alternative facts and fake news, when so much of the research that we depend on seems to be in jeopardy.[5] So use your fair use rights! They’re important to academic freedom of speech.

About the Author:

Charlotte Roh is the Scholarly Communications Librarian at the University of San Francisco Gleeson Library and has over a decade of experience in academic publishing and libraries at the University of Massachusetts, Oxford University Press, and Taylor and Francis. Her most recent publication, “Agents of Diversity and Social Justice: Librarians and Scholarly Communication” won the 2017 LPC Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Library Publishing.

If you’d like to learn more or have any questions about copyright, fair use, or academic publishing, please contact Charlotte Roh at the Gleeson Library croh2(at)usfca.edu. See also the CRASE blog on Negotiating Book Contracts.

[1] Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. §§ Preamble (2012)

[2] Courtney, Kyle. “Fair Use Fights Fascism: Some Fair Use Week Thoughts on the 1st Amendment & Fair Use” (February 2017) https://vimeo.com/204835410

[3] Elizabeth, De. “Ghost in the Shell’s Early Review Point Out Whitewashing” (March 2017) Teen Vogue. http://www.teenvogue.com/story/ghost-in-the-shell-early-reviews-whitewashing?mbid=social_twitter

[4] Particularly if you don’t have to! Federal publications are free to the public, and some things might be out of copyright, but unscrupulous bodies will still charge for them. Here’s a recent example, from a photographer who donated her work to the public but found that the Getty was charging for her photos: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2016/07/photographer-sues-getty-images-for-selling-photos-she-donated-to-public/

[5] Schlanger, Zoë. “Rogue Scientists Race to Save Climate Data from Trump” WIRED (January 2017) https://www.wired.com/2017/01/rogue-scientists-race-save-climate-data-trump/

The Practice of Accountability in Ghana’s Poor Urban Neighborhoods

Professor Jeffrey Paller discusses how democracy and political accountability really works in urban Ghana, emphasizing the importance of daily practices and collective action.

Residents of some of Ghana’s poorest neighborhoods claim, “Housing is a human right.”

Rapid urbanization is changing the African continent. By 2050, the majority of Africans are expected to live in urban areas, up from 40 percent today. Cities improve access to healthcare and education, while presenting new challenges to sanitation, housing provision, and air quality. Residents come into contact with people from different ethnic, religious, and class groups at work and in their neighborhoods. These daily interactions have the potential to positively change attitudes and build new social contracts, but can also create conflict between diverse types of people competing over limited resources, space, and opportunities.

While the demographic, economic, and cultural shifts are potentially transformative, the pressure on urban land and space is an emerging and real challenge. Many of the future political struggles across the continent will take place in the urban neighborhoods of Africa’s rapidly growing cities. My research examines the impact of urbanization on democracy in Africa, and tries to understand how these political processes shape prospects of sustainable urban development. I’ve conducted most of my field research in Ghana, a country in West Africa.

The existing scholarship on African urban politics focuses primarily on formal institutions. These include elections, the rule of law, the police force, and state bureaucracies and planning agencies. A related scholarship examines how societal conditions like ethnicity and religion contribute to urban governance and political clientelism – the exchange of resources and favors for votes.

But after conducting ethnographic fieldwork, interviewing residents and leaders, and running an original household survey in some of Ghana’s poorest neighborhoods – often called slums or informal settlements – I uncovered a different story. I found that social practices that bring representatives and their constituents together in daily life provide the basis of democratic politics and political accountability.

Citizens engage in a variety of different social practices to hold their representatives to account, including appealing to their moral standing in daily activities like town hall meetings, nighttime chats, and house visits, as well as civic activism and street protests. Social gatherings like funerals, weddings, and festivals can also serve this purpose. I call these informal practices of accountability. I further theorize how daily interactions and power structures shape city- and national-level politics.

In-depth fieldwork helped me understand how social practices outside the official view – in the “hidden transcript,” as James Scott famously called it – shapes the political behavior of politicians, state bureaucrats, and traditional authorities. Paying close attention to this arena of politics also showed me that leaders gain power and authority by relying on informal norms and rules. For example, leaders are expected to act as friends, employers, parents, and religious leaders to their constituents. This provides one powerful explanation for why political clientelism persists despite the strengthening of liberal-democratic institutions.

Perhaps most importantly, I argue against conventional wisdom that democratic accountability does not emerge in poor, ethnically diverse, informal settlements. A dominant public and scholarly narrative is that African cities are “in crisis,” and that the urban population boom will damage prospects for sustainable development. This is because the majority of residents will live in unplanned and unsafe slums that lack secure property rights.

But political accountability and good governance can emerge in these unexpected places, as long as residents satisfy informal norms of settlement and belonging. Due to customary land tenure and historical settlement patterns, indigenous ethnic groups and migrant populations must reach a political bargain for a civic public to emerge and the needs and security of all residents to be fulfilled. The grassroots of community life determines the developmental success of a neighborhood, and the city as a whole.

As the United Nations declared several years ago: The future of Africa is urban. The political consequences of Africa’s rapid urbanization will shape the continent for years to come. These outcomes will play a major role in the democratic development of African governments, as well as the form that economic growth takes. A clearer picture of what takes place in daily life of these cities, as well as the power structures that keep the status quo in place or enable transformational change is a necessary starting point on the path toward sustainable urban development.

Jeffrey W. Paller is an Assistant Professor of Politics at University of San Francisco. He is currently completing a book manuscript entitled Accountability in Unexpected Places: Democratic Practices in African Slums.

Research for Research’s Sake: The Value and Responsibility of Translating Research to Diverse Audiences

Desiree Zerquera, Assistant Professor in the School of Education, writes on the value and responsibility of translating research to diverse audiences. This post originally appeared on A Community of Higher Ed Scholars, the official blog of AERA Division J.

Desiree Zerquera, Assistant Professor in the School of Education

For the majority of us who identify as higher education scholars, we are in this field because through our own educational or professional experiences we saw problems in the way higher education is shaped and shapes others. We were called to scholarship as a way to examine these problems, find solutions and contribute to a vision of a better system of higher education. Our individual work is situated within the broader mission of the university, which has a commitment to serving the public good, achieved in large part through our research.

Traditional graduate school experience trains us to write for publication in academic journals, primarily read by academics. We are encouraged to present in the more prestigious conferences of our field, attended largely by other scholars. Further, the reward structures of academe value these types of contributions above all else. Despite efforts to resist these pressures, jobs need to be obtained, tenure and promotion need to be earned, and our value in the field needs to be recognized. Time being finite, these efforts come at the cost of other forms of engagement that speak to the very reason why we entered the field of higher education in the first place.

The problem, however, isn’t that we publish in academic journals and present at academic conferences. These are important spaces of knowledge dissemination. It is an invaluable part not just of academe but of our society as a whole—a space where ideas are shared and debated, where we can trace the contours of our collective imagination for how we see and address problems, and where research and scholarship can exist for the sake of their own existence.

The problem lies in the fact that much of the fruits of this knowledge gained stops within these spaces. Not everyone has access to these spaces, and not all voices are permitted to be amplified within them. As social scientists, we do not have the privilege to be so elitist so as to limit our knowledge to just one another.

There are a number of ways of translating our work for diverse audiences. Starting with the academic format we are socialized to communicate within as academics, journals and conferences that speak to policy- and practitioner-based audiences are valuable outlets. These spaces are important in fostering knowledge exchange around policy and practice. Just as important as the rigor reflected in our research are the ways we can utilize this work to inform change in our higher education system. Translation is needed to better connect our work to its own value within our respective fields. This can be a challenge, and require reshifting and reframing of our work, but we have an obligation to undertake this work.

Leveraging the public attention through blogs, op-eds, policy briefs, TED talks, keynote engagements, and social media are also promising and valuable ways of reaching broader audiences. Higher education scholars like Marybeth Gasman and Julian Vasquez Heilig often use these channels of influence to advocate for the higher education equity issues they research. This expands our audience reach to inform not just policy and practice, but also the public conscious around higher education.

As a field, we need to do more to develop and institute this value of translating our work. Faculty in higher education programs can incorporate assignments that have students write in various formats beyond just the traditional research paper. In my classroom, students read and write reports and op-eds. We workshop the process of discovering your voice to bridge ideas to public discourse. Further, faculty can also play a role in shaping reward systems. More value to these types of engagements needs to be added within the tenure and promotion (T&P) processes. Institutions like Loyola Marymount University have supplemented their traditional T&P requirements to account for public engagements as part of a measure of faculty’s contributions. Lastly, technology makes options like publicly-available webinars valuable outlets for communicating with administrative, practitioner and public audiences. The National Institute for Transformation and Equity (NITE) has embraced this through their Webcasts on Equity and Change (WOCE) series that brings together scholars and practitioners around relevant topics related to equity in higher education.

Being called to the work of higher education, our work cannot stop at just examining issues. We have the responsibility to communicate and engage with those who can put our research into action at the policy and practice level. Making our work more accessible and breaking down our complex ideas and higher education jargon is even more needed within our current anti-intellectual context that emphasizes 140-characters or less bits of information. As a field, we not only need to do better, but we have an obligation to do so to fulfill our commitment to contribute to improving higher education.

Making a Five-Year Plan

Genevieve Negrón-Gonzales, Assistant Professor in the School of Education, shares details about creating a five-year plan.

winning tenure
“Winning Tenure” lays out a helpful approach towards the pre-tenure years of faculty life.

Earlier this semester, School of Management Associate Professor Michelle Millar and I facilitated a workshop sponsored by CRASE titled “Making a Five-Year Plan: A Workshop for Faculty.” Attended largely by early-career faculty from across campus, the session was intended to demystify the tenure process by breaking the benchmarks towards tenure and promotion down into a series of concrete, specific goals that can be mapped on to a five-year calendar. Our approach is influenced by the work of Kerry Ann Rockquemore and Tracey Laszloffy in their book The Black Academic’s Guide to Winning Tenure – Without Losing Your Soul. The book, written for Black faculty specifically and faculty members from underrepresented communities in general, lays out a helpful approach towards the pre-tenure years of faculty life, including the critical importance of developing a five-year plan, for anyone going through the tenure and promotion (T&P) process.

We began by clarifying that, though often talked about as a seven-year process, promotion from assistant to associate professor is actually five years. The seventh year is the sabbatical year, and the sixth year is when one submits the T&P file, which means that work for the T&P file must to be accomplished by the end of the fifth year. Though every faculty member’s tenure file will be judged by a university-wide committee, the expectations of what makes a strong tenure case vary by discipline, field, and school, and therefore the first step before developing one’s five-year plan is to clarify what those expectations are with mentors and senior faculty.

There are several reasons a five-year plan is important, including the tension between tenure being a benchmark that must be achieved on a fixed timeframe and the fact that it is measured with a nebulous set of benchmarks; the reality of the nature of academia and that it is entirely possible to work a 16-hour day attending only to the immediate tasks at hand and never getting to the bigger projects like writing and thinking; and, how the “never enough” culture in academia is not only a recipe for burnout but can also negatively impact productivity. A five-year plan can help mitigate those challenges and even build in time for rest and recuperation.

Below are the four steps we see as the keys to developing a solid five-year plan:

Step One: Articulate SMART goals in each of the following areas: research, teaching, and service.
The first step is to develop goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, & Timely (SMART). So, rather than just writing furiously, you are clear about the specific goals you need to meet over the course of the five years. For example, a goal related to research might be to publish an empirical piece in a top journal in your field based on data you have already collected.

Step Two: Develop a list of tasks to accomplish each goal.
Next, break down each goal into a series of concrete tasks that will help you accomplish the goal—the more specific the better. The publication goal listed above could be broken down into the following tasks: analyze data; develop the article; argument and outline; write a draft of the article; revise article after getting feedback from a colleague; and submit the article.

Step Three: Use the technique of “backward calendering” to time-map each goal and it’s corresponding tasks.
Nothing helps you be realistic about what you can accomplish and how long it will take than pulling out a calendar and mapping it out. Start with the due date and work backwards, mapping out each task on a specific day. If you aim to submit your article on August 15, you’ll need to get feedback from your colleague by August 1, which means you’ll need to get it to her by July 1. To get it to her by July 1, you’ll need a full draft by June 15, develop your argument and outline by May 15, and have your data analyzed by April 15. If you anticipate the data analysis will take you two months, you’ll need to start data analysis by February 15.

Step Four: Map out each year and adjust as necessary.
Though it can feel overwhelming, it is important to backward-calendar each goal. This will help you think through what is really possible, how to stagger different projects, and how to build in the time necessary for each task. It also helps you look at each semester one-at-a-time, and shuffle things around as needed so that you can ensure that you are evenly distributing the work and taking into account how other responsibilities (a heavy fall teaching load) or opportunities (summer off) will increase or decrease your work in a given period.

Lastly, keep in mind that your plan is fluid. It can be adjusted as needed – tasks can be removed or added, and goals can change. That’s okay. However, a five-year plan is worthless if you develop it in a workshop and never look at it again! A five-year plan is lived through semester-long plans, which we recommend drafting at the start of each term. Developing a “Sunday Meeting” is also a helpful tool; whether this is with an accountability group you set up (see the Rockquemore and Laszloffy book for more details on this!) or by yourself. Setting aside time each Sunday to revisit your semester plan, and figure out what you need to do that week in order to stay on track, helps bring your five-year-plan into your everyday life.

How the Orlando Shooting and Presidential Election Changed the LGBTQ+ Community

Lou Felipe discusses the preliminary results of research conducted with Ja’nina Garrett-Walker and Michelle Montagno through the CRASE Interdisciplinary Action Group Grant Award.

SF Pride 2015
Image credit: SF Pride 2015 by Thomas Hawk. This work is licensed under a CC BY 2.0 license.

The shooting that took place at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, FL, on a night that knowingly attracted a Latinx community, pushed to the forefront the intersectionality of discrimination. Notably, the tragedy highlighted how queer people of color are uniquely positioned to be at the receiving end of hateful violence due to the enduring legacies of racism and homophobia. Many in the queer community wondered about our community’s investment in racial equity. As queer people working towards racial equity, Ja’nina Garrett-Walker, Michelle Montagno, and I were not only personally heartbroken by the tragic deaths of those celebrating at Pulse that evening, but we felt compelled to leverage our own resources and privileges to better understand the experiences of people of color in the LGBTQ+ community.

We were awarded the Center for Research Artistic and Scholarly Excellence (CRASE) Interdisciplinary Action Group grant to investigate LGBTQ+ individuals’ racial identity and connectedness to the community. Though we are still in the data collection process, preliminary results reveal the different experiences between People of Color (POC) and White people in the LGBTQ+ community. While differences in mental health did not emerge, POC generally reported feeling less connected to the LGBTQ+ community than their White counterparts (Garrett-Walker, Felipe, & Montagno, 2017). POC also reported greater discord between their sexual and racial identities than White-identified participants. These trends of the data perhaps suggest that lived experiences of communities of color are not well reflected in dominant queer culture. What we see in the data may be the reflection of what many of us who are queer and of color have experienced all along: that the legacies of white supremacy have permeated the LGBTQ+ community, whitening the queer experience in much the same way that the feminist movement centered White voices, pushing Women of Color to demand intersectional feminism.

However, the Orlando tragedy was not the only major event impacting the participants of the study, all of whom identify as queer or claim a space somewhere along the LGBTQ+ continuum. Shortly following the launch of our study, the presidential elections took place, and we were faced with an interesting significant event that created unique response sets: we had a number of participants who responded before the election, as well as a portion of the sample who participated after the election. In examining depression scores, those who responded just prior to the election had scores that were substantially lower than those scores recorded after the election (Garrett-Walker, et al. 2017). In short, LGBTQ+ people endorsed more symptoms of depression after Trump was elected into office.

The presidential election signified a serious threat to the civil rights of the entire LGBTQ+ community, and it arrived on the heels of a massive attack that left 51 people dead. The socio-political environment created an additional stress on the psyches of the queer people in the study, and this indication of increased depression emerged regardless of how the participant identified racially. While these findings are almost sadly obvious, there is another unique finding to consider at this crossroads of identity: the post-election respondents indicated feeling more negatively towards their own racial group, regardless of their racial identity (Garrett-Walker, et al. 2017).

Orlando and the election changed all of us in the community. The accumulation of attacks draws us into a space far too familiar – that of self-loathing. Unless we, as a larger America, take up each other’s causes with the same fervor for which we stand up for our own, we are headed down a terrifyingly divisive path, where we will not only hate one another, but will end up internally empty in the process. And though the mistakes of the past seem to be revived in modern times, the successes of the past have also paved our path for survival and resistance. We just have to listen to those stories and value our own.

Six ways to focus and strategize in your fight against injustices

In this blog, originally posted by the American Counseling Association, professor Christine Yeh identifies and discusses six specific ways to focus and strategize in your fight against injustices.

reject racism protest

Since the inauguration, I have spoken to many colleagues and students who feel overwhelmed by the number of troubling and complicated issues emerging with the new Presidential administration. From the confirmation of Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary to the reinstatement of the Dakota Access Pipeline, there are clearly many injustices that must be fought. I have spent some time thinking about how to prioritize, strategize and focus and wanted to share some thoughts that I have gathered from a variety of sources. My full list is much longer but I will begin with 6 ideas.

Below are Six ways and focus and strategize in your fight against injustices

  1. Limit your news sources
  2. Invest in organizations that have a proven track record
  3. Understand the role of corporations in furthering problematic agendas
  4. Identify outlets to share your voice
  5. Prioritize and focus on specific issues
  6. Establish long and short term goals
Limit your news sources

It is easy to be inundated with real and fake news stories these days and sorting through the onslaught of social media newsfeeds and headlines can be both daunting and time consuming. Try to select a few trusted sources, rather than read everything that comes your way. I subscribe to NPR, New York Times, Huffington Post, and Washington Post and focus primarily on these sources. But I also have several specialized newsfeeds related to immigration rights, public education, the arts, and psychology that I also turn to for more detailed accounts.  I also try to limit my engagement with social media to 2-3 tweets and Facebook posts a day, which allows me to keep informed and still connected with friends, without getting too much information. If you see something on social media that seems especially inflammatory (hard to tell these days), do your fact checking and always verify the information from the original source.

Invest in organizations that have a proven track record

Since we cannot fight all battles, I also believe in donating (in any amount) to several key organizations that have a demonstrated record of collectivizing supporters and using their resources to pursue key initiatives, policies, petitions, and lawsuits that are aligned with social justice efforts. For example, I supported the American Civil Liberties Union lawsuits and petitions which protested the confirmation of Sessions for Attorney General and the proposed Muslim travel ban. I also support the Southern Poverty Law Center’s work for LGBTQ rights, advocacy, and training. Of course, there are many other local and national organizations that are doing important work and many of these are specific to a particular cause.  Do your research and ask around to see which organizations may best support your cause. If you can’t afford to donate right now, there are also many ways to donate time as a volunteer.

Understand the role of corporations in furthering problematic agendas

Many news reports have emerged that have highlighted which companies and businesses support or do not support different issues that directly and indirectly impact the proliferation of injustice. For example, Wells Fargo has been funding the Dakota Access Pipeline construction and the CEO of New Balance has been fund raising for Trump and the Trump family. I found a good list here that is continually updated. Of course many business connections are not so clear cut for some. For example, there are large department stores such as discount store, Ross, that sells the Ivanka Trump clothing line. Does the daughter’s clothing line also get boycotted? For me Trump has already demonstrated that his family businesses are at the core his own branding and success and further his own interests. This is especially problematic given Trump’s Top Advisor, Kellyanne Conway, publicly urged folks to “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff!” so I believe it is important to let retailers know that how and who they profit does matter.

Identify outlets to share your voice

There are many ways to be activist and to make a contribution so spend some time thinking about your strengths and capacities. Some of the most important social movements in history (such as the civil rights movement) have emerged due to our right to share our voices and fight for equity. This can take many forms. For example, signing and sharing petitions can be very effective, especially if you get large organizations (such as unions, universities, cultural organizations, etc.,) to back them. Making phone calls is also a very powerful way to share your perspective with elected officials and only take a few minutes a day. You can also volunteer to be a first responder to immigration raids targeting businesses and homes. I also strongly believe in the power of large protests and marches. For example, the CEO of Uber backed down from the Trump advisory council after just one day of strong protests in San Francisco and a viral #deleteuber campaign. He instead decided to donate 3 million dollars to support drivers impacted by Trump’s efforts to enforce a Muslim travel ban. I recently met a woman who felt very motivated to help but did not know how to use her skills as a busy doctor to further this work. She decided she could host meetings at her house, buy supplies (such as materials) to make signs for protests, support important organizations that are experiencing dramatic cuts federal funding (such as the arts, the environment, and public radio), and bring food to different events. She doesn’t identify as an activist but has found ways to support causes she cares about locally.

Prioritize and focus on specific issues

I know that I don’t have the emotional capacity to fight all the battles I care about but we can focus on the ones that we feel most passionately about while continuing to learn about targeted communities who are most impacted by the new administration. It is also important to consider how to use our unique skill sets as counselors and educators to address injustices as they continue to emerge. I’ve learned to focus on primarily being a scholar activist while also engaging in other forms of activism. Some areas to focus on may include (but are not limited to); conducting research to provide evidence to support your cause, scholarly writing (blog and op-ed pieces that spread the word about an issue), sharing petitions, providing and supporting others, doing trainings for allies, educational workshops, or community organizing. Find colleagues who share your passions and build on each other’s unique skill sets to meaningfully collectivize around an important cause.

Establish short and long term goals

Through all of this, remember to take breaks to care for yourself and those around you. If you have children or work with young people, it is important to meaningfully engage them in this process as well. It is also critical to establish short and long term goals and to continually assess resources around you. As the past month has revealed, it is hard to predict what new issues will emerge each day. Try to stay grounded, balance your personal and professional priorities, and focus on what really matters. Spend some time realistically setting aside time for the work you hope to do and schedule when you will do it. It may sound ridiculous but I created a schedule for myself to insure I do something each day. For example, this may mean reading news reports and engaging in limited social media in the morning, midday and evening. Making 10 minutes of phone calls in the morning to elected officials, using meals or coffee to hold strategy sessions or conference calls with colleagues, and reviewing petitions and scheduled protests or meetings at night. Try to develop long term goals in partnership with targeted communities, organizations, and colleagues. This may include writing a policy brief, developing ideas for op-eds, offering free counseling and support groups, or planning events to support public (versus charter or private) schools.

In all of this work, I have been most inspired when I am working in solidarity with colleagues and friends with a shared vision for equity.

A Visualization for Parents Navigating the SF Public Elementary School Admissions Process

SF-Map

https://sfelementary.github.io/

As any parent in San Francisco knows all too well, enrolling your would-be kindergartener in the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) system is a daunting process. The challenges include countless tours that often “sell out” and each last an hour or more. These tours culminate in showing up at the SFUSD office for an in-person paper application process that has taken at times over 3 hours to complete and makes the DMV look like a well-oiled machine by comparison. Parents largely suffer this time-consuming process out of love for their child but it is harder to imagine a more frustrating and anxiety ridden process to have your child attend kindergarten.

The single largest source of parental anxiety related to this activity is the amount of random chance in the process.  While we won’t review the lottery process in all its glorious detail, the process boils down to this: Each parent applies and ranks a large number of SFUSD kindergartens, each with an abysmally low probability, and hopes that one or more coins comes up heads. The highest-ranked winning pick (if a winning event actually occurs) is awarded to the kindergartener. Again, the process is more complicated than we have described and includes complex tie-break systems, as well as language categories bucketing, but ranking and low probability coin flipping is an essential feature of the process.

The information provided by the SFUSD is neither user friendly nor capable of easy digestion to help parents make informed decisions. In response to this, second year Analytics Assistant Professor Yannet Interian created the visualization tool  using leaflet, a java script library for interactive maps, to help parents navigate the complex application process by providing a brief but informative snapshot of each of the 72 schools in the system.

“I have a 2-year old and I thought about what information I would want to help navigate the complex application process. Putting all the relevant data together in a clear and easy to read format can help parents figure out how to rank schools more efficiently,” said Professor Interian.

She sorted through some of the information available about each school to identify the schools in high demand but also highlight how difficult and challenging it is to attend the best schools in San Francisco. After choosing a few set parameters such as number of applications, number of available seats and California Assessment of Student Progress and Performance (CAASPP) scores, they developed a simple visualization system to understand the landscape of elementary schools plotted directly onto a city map of San Francisco. Professor Interian teamed up with software engineer Morgan Whitmont to build the first version of this prototype site.

While many “metrics” of school quality exists, Professor Interian developed a simple localized SF ranking using CAASPP Math and English scores, with the formula included in the visualizaiton. While more comprehensive measures of the health of a school than these two exist, for this first go around Interian and Whitmont created a data visualization tool that provides a partial — but important — overall picture of each school. One of the most important but depressing figures easily found by scrolling over each school is the percentage of applications that were accepted. For example, at Grattan Elementary, 1446 applicants vied for 65 open seats in kindergarten which is reported as 4.5%.  Sadly, the actual probability of applying and getting into Grattan for many parents is vastly lower once you factor in the tie-breaking system and it is likely sub 1% in the last round of the tie break.

Interian and Whitmont look forward to receiving feedback from SF parents on how to improve the visualization so that it becomes an essential tool in understanding the elementary school landscape. They have plans to incorporate diversity statistics as well as other metrics of the health of the school in future versions. In addition they would like to further separate and add to the visualization the different language tracks at the schools that have them.  For now, Interian and Whitmont hope the visualization allows parents to move forward armed with the information needed to make an informed, (slightly more) confident decision about their children’s education.