Gen Z + Y and COVID-19: How Are Growing?

Project Investigators: Shelbie Taylor, Chiara Cecchini, Andoeni Ruezga, Virginia Cipollina

Project Sponsor: Dr. Jan English-Lueck

This project was done in partnership with Future Food Institute, an Italian and global-minded non-profit organization concerned with food sustainability and innovation. In light of the global COVID-19 pandemic, this project was proposed to investigate how Gen Z and Millennials’ food purchasing habit might be impacted. This study involved interviewing a wide variety of participants across Europe and the United States, including SJSU graduate and undergraduate students about their “new normal.” Participants shared their stories about how COVID-19 has impacted their daily lives – including how lockdown measures affect their mental, physical, and emotional health, financial well-being, and their relationships and community ties. The researchers and participants also discussed how their eating and food acquisition habits have changed over the course of quarantine. These shifts in food habits can provide the Future Food Network with insights for improved sustainability practices for food providers and initiatives to reduce food waste on a global scale.

Freeways and Farms: Veggielution at Emma Prusch and Taylor Street Urban Farms Study

Project Investigators: Dr. Joshua Baur and Ashley Estrada

Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Jan English- Lueck

The scope of our project examines how nearby roadways impact the perspectives of the users and producers of urban farms. Two urban farms in San Jose, California were focal points of our research: Veggielution at the Emma Prusch Farm Park and Taylor Street Farm. The Mineta Transportation Institute provided the funding for our project, with Dr. Joshua Baur as Primary Investigator and me as a Co-Investigator.

As a Co- Investigator to the project, I had the flexibility to focus my research as an applied anthropologist, utilizing Anthropological themes such as place attachment and the social production of space. The question that I was seeking to answer was “how do the components of the roadways, whether the natural or built environment of the street, play into the physical and emotional construction of these farms?

As a research team, Dr. Joshua Baur and I conducted fourteen semi- structured interviews with the volunteers and farm staff at the farm sites during the summer of 2019. In addition to our interviews, I also conducted structured and participant observations during volunteer gardening events held as each farm site. The flexibility of our project allowed Dr. Baur and I to conduct our own analysis centered around our focus of research.

As an applied anthropologist, I shaped my theoretical framework around place attachment and the social production of space. Through my analysis of these themes, I was able to forecast three core results:

  1. Participants adapted to the roadway noise through noise replication.
  2. The location of the farm sites was accessible due to surrounding roadways.
  3. Participants constructed their space as a platform for meaning that can be produced in other urban places.

These three core findings represent implications for future research in the field of applied anthropology. By focusing on the intersection of place attachment and the social production of space, I was able to determine that the obvious constraints of roadways, such as busy traffic and noises were not relevant. The social connection and the connection to land that volunteers and farm staff experience holds relevance. The place is not as significant as the activity that motivates volunteers and farm staff to visit the space. Such places can be replicated in other urban spaces by highlighting motivating factors such as educational opportunities and community interaction. An applied anthropologist can provide an ethnographic lens to the construction and building of these future spaces.


Response Begins with Preparedness: The Impacts of the 2017 Coyote Creek Flood in San Jose

Principle Investigator: Gabbie Fall

Faculty Sponsor:
A.J. Faas

In this study, Gabbie examined how aid and recovery were handled after the 2017 Coyote Creek flood in San Jose. To learn about this, she conducted interviews with people impacted by the flood, analyzed media cover-age from the time of the flood and since, and interviewed workers from relevant city offices and non-profits to see how relief and recovery efforts were perceived as well as how they were intended. This articulates with the anthropology of disasters by providing another view of what it means to be prepared; not only prepared to reduce the effects of disasters but also prepared to provide comprehensive aid immediately after the fact, regardless of whether or not the effects of the disaster were reduced in the first place. She found that people were largely dissatisfied, to say the least, because the damage was not mitigated due to the late evacuation and the subsequent relief efforts did not meet the needs of those living in a city with such an expensive cost of living. This shows how diverse needs cannot be met with generic solutions and can be used to avoid the repetition of certain missteps in the future.
Gabbie presented her work in a poster session as part of the SJSU Celebration of Research event on April 23, 2019, and delivered a paper on this study at the Annual Conference of the Southwestern Anthropological Association on April 19, 2019, where she won third place in the student paper competition. She also gave an Ignite Talk on this study as part of SJSU’s Department of Anthropology AnthROX! event on April 26.

Plastics in Paradise

Principle Investigator: Megan Shaw

Faculty Sponsor: A.J. Faas

Other Sponsors: Berth Kalm Scholarship for Making a Difference in Humanity (SJSU Office of Graduate Studies), Inez and Donald Burdick Scholarship (SJSU College of Social Sciences) Department of Anthropology Grad Grant

The focus of my research is on plastic consumption and waste management on the island of San Pedro, Belize. I spent five weeks in the community in June 2018 conducting interviews, participant observation, attending community events, and working as an intern for a local NGO. My internship with through an organization called the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA), a nongovernmental watchdog organization focused on the Belizian government’s Tourism Board (BTB). For my internship, I worked with another local volunteer to create a curriculum for the San Pedro Junior College that incorporated aspects of garbage and waste education and awareness. We were able to create two course components for fourteen different classes, ranging from microeconomics to reef conservation. The hope is that this curriculum will be embraced by the instructors and foster the development of community-level education and awareness the issue of consumption and waste management.

Through this internship, I also participated in an island clean-up hosted by the BTIA in November 2018. The organizers set lofty goals and were able to gain in-kind and monetary donations from many people. I spent the majority of my time helping the local workers at the transfer station (garbage dump) unload and sort waste collected from roadsides and the mangroves. Several community issues were highlighted during this clean up. One was that many businesses were paying for garbage to be hauled and were unaware that the hired workers were dumping it illegally instead of bringing it to the transfer station. Proof also surfaced that waste directly tied to the council had been illegally dumped into the mangroves. As the four-day clean-up drew to a close, the BTIA vowed to continue pushing the local government for stricter enforcement of illegal dumping fines and for their support in continued remediation of polluted areas. My participation in both projects enabled me to delve deeper into community issues and meet numerous people with fantastic insights and experiences. My involvement with the BTIA provided me with context and connections while I worked on collecting data and these connections will continue to be an integral part of my research in the future.

This research and my time in Belize would not have been possible without the support and funding the Berth Kalm Scholarship, the Inez and Donald Burdick Scholarship, and the SJSU Anthropology Department Grad Grant. My advisor, A.J. Faas, has also been a fantastic mentor through this process and will continue to be as I work through my analysis and writing phase of this project.

Community-Based Participatory Archaeology with the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe at the Sunol Water Temple Site, CA ALA-565

Primary Investigator: Alicia Hedges and Arianna Heathcote

Faculty Sponsor: Alan Levanthal

As new graduate students in the Applied Anthropology program at San Jose State, we found ourselves in the exciting position of being a part of community based participatory research. During the fall 2017 semester, we spoke with Alan Leventhal concerning his past and current work with local tribes and our interest in getting involved.  From this meeting with Leventhal, we were invited to Sunol by the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe to assist on the excavation of their ancestral dead at CA-ALA-565, affectionally called the Sunol Water Temple site as it rests near the historic Sunol Water Temple. We were graciously trained on proper procedures and decorum by SJSU alumnus Brieann DeOrnellas and graduate student Alisha Ragland, as they had long time experience on the site and with the Tribe. It was comforting to discover that the Tribe encouraged a learning environment and welcomed new-comers recommended by Leventhal.

There were many important discoveries made at the site. One of them, a Kuksu pendant (anthropomorphic abalone pendants meant to be worn around the neck), would be the stimulus of Alicia’s M.A. project which addresses the geospatial distribution of Kuksu pendants in the Bay Area associated with the Muwekma Ohlone. Other artifacts of note were found in the matrix of Burial 49, where three individuals were interred with shell beads and five beautifully preserved obsidian projectile points. Mortars and pestles of enormous size were found throughout the site indicating mass ritual and represented the intense labor required to manufacture these grave goods. By way of oral histories, the Muwekma Ohlone know that this site was a burial site specifically for those of importance in their society. This claim was supported by the types of grave goods associated with the burials. In this site we also witnessed cremains (cremated remains), which was a component of the traditional Muwekma Ohlone practice for warrior burials.

This site had beautiful preservation that allowed us to discern a great amount of detail about each burial. After excavation, the burials were drawn, photographed, documented, 3D photographed, and sent to local osteologists for examinations. We look forward to the compiled report that will soon tell us even more about the Muwekma Ohlone’s ancestral dead.