DISPATCHES FROM THE FIELD

We feature long form essays that make use of ethnographic fieldwork as well as standalone field notes that tell a powerful story.

Field Notes.

Ethnographic Reflections.

18 March 2022

Rising Pressure: Housing Costs in the Face of COVID-19

Marisa Westbrook

Low-income Hispanic families in Denver were already struggling to pay for housing even before the pandemic hit in mid-March of 2020. As the pandemic began, I was several months into my ethnographic dissertation documenting the experiences of families in a neighborhood at risk of gentrification as these families faced the rising costs in Denver’s booming housing market. I started making connections in summer 2019 in the low-income southwest Denver neighborhood of Westwood. That winter, I began meeting with 35 low-income predominantly Hispanic residents to learn about their neighborhood, housing costs, and wellbeing. I attended neighborhood meetings, community events, and informational sessions and went on neighborhood tours and walks with residents as I slowly became welcome into their homes.


23 February 2022

Becoming a Preventionist

Max Greenberg

The flickering halogen inside the square trailer is no match for the sun outside and my eyes squint to adjust. The desks are packed in nine dense rows and dotted with scraps of the previous class —worksheets and Gatorade bottles litter the desks and floor. I slide into a desk by the near wall and pull the heavy white curriculum binder out of my bag, crisp and barely used. I shuffle through the sheets of the curriculum and do a last-minute review of the day’s unit. The students begin to squeak and thud in.


06 October 2021

There is Smoke in the Distance

Rachel Howard

I had lived in _____ before: over the previous few years, for a few weeks at a time, I would rent a room and arrange meetings, interviews, and volunteer with local groups to get familiar with the place and build a community. After three years of visits, my research questions were focused on the intersections of race, history, and climate change, taking place primarily with recent migrants who imagined this town as a kind of utopia. This place was one among many Western desert towns that developed, at the turn of the 20th century, still-powerful booster narratives that enticed white Americans to move there. How, I wanted to know, do we justify living in a place that was built on inequality and displacement and does not have the resources in place to support its own future? How do we justify breathing in smoke when the fire is all around us?


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