Tuesday, June 7, 2016

My Perspective - Christopher Alcala

I never saw clotheslines in Riverside. I figure most people had the same idea my parents had when they moved here in 1987: to find a slice of suburbia that was affordable. Before Riverside, my family lived near my father’s work in Santa Ana, Orange County, but with a family my size, we needed space, and space in Orange County is expensive. Very expensive. With their budget, my parent’s only options were rundown fixer uppers, usually 2 bedrooms, and almost always in neighborhoods not well suited for raising children. There was another option, though: take a 40 minute drive down the 91 and look there, in Riverside. For the same price as a 1 bedroom in Orange County, my family could afford a 4 bedroom, with a jacuzzi and pool to boot. My family took up this offer, and soon became part of a new boom of commuters working in Los Angeles/Orange County. We were struggling working class in Orange County, but found the American Dream in Riverside. Low property taxes, big yards, and quiet neighborhoods. There were no laundromats or clotheslines here, we were in the peace, safety, and convenience of the suburbs.
I was born in 1991, shortly after my family had settled in. My home was situated between dirt hills and orange groves, in a neighborhood composed of cul-de-sac after cul-de-sac. As a child the open spaces and farmland made for great play areas, but as I grew into a more angsty teen, what made my parents love Riverside made me resent it. Without a car you were crushed by the sprawl, and nightlife and excitement were virtually nonexistent. All the concerts and events were in LA or Orange County, and no one wanted to drive in traffic to get there. The opportunities and fun were all seemingly outside, away from here. Riverside felt like a trap, like a poor imitation of a real city. This wasn’t where things were happening, it was where you watched things happen.
My parents, however, were vindicated. Riverside grew and grew, and their 100k 4 bedroom home had suddenly become extremely valuable. Morning door to door proselytizers were now real estate agents and appraisers encouraging you to move or refinance. My parent’s home was now worth close to 500 thousand dollars, almost 5 times my parent’s mortgage. Until it wasn’t.
Just like that, what drew so many working class people to Riverside was virtually gone. When the financial crisis hit, almost all of Riverside’s money was tied to real estate. The dream was gone, and what we woke up to was terrifying. The most common architectural feature of Riverside were the wood frames of halted development. Every pristine suburban neighborhood was now littered with empty homes, distinguishable by their dead grass and foreclosure notices. Riverside soon became popular for topping lists created by publications like Forbes or The Economist detailing the cities most adversely affected by the recession.
And then with the city, I too collapsed. Literally collapsed, just from getting up from bed, and my pale complexion and constant illness could no longer be ignored. I checked into the hospital shortly after my 19th birthday on September 3rd, 2010, and by September 15th I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. Now this area, Riverside, the Inland Empire, which I resented for most of my life, would get to work saving my life.
I responded to treatment well (as “well” as someone can respond to 3 years of chemotherapy, radiation, and steroid treatment) and by 2014 I had mostly recovered. Amazingly, it seemed Riverside had begun to recover as well. Development had started back up again, new, exciting areas of nightlife had emerged, and we as a city were getting more attention than ever. University of California, Riverside was expanding and impressing more and more people around the country, and I was accepted to study my passion of Anthropology there. I couldn’t help but feel so very alive in my city.
On the Line, as a result, symbolized all the growing I have done alongside this city. Before I don’t think anyone would have associated Riverside with art, collaboration, and education. Here I was in a city I once felt symbolized the sterile, monotonous modern suburb was now hosting an exhibit created by the collaboration of scholars and artist. It had created a site that was filled with life; that inspired me.
           When I offered the opportunity to win the laundry supplies, the discussions I had about laundry and the experience it offered showed me that we weren’t a city of commuters looking for the quickest, most convenient way. People were interested in being connected to their neighbors, their experiences, and their home. In a way, the discussions surrounding our laundry and the way we do it, whether it be managing the annoyance of public laundromats, seeking help from our parents and peers, or planning an outdoor clothesline, made me feel and witness the variety and life of Riverside. To me, it felt like together we were creating a new Riverside culture from the ashes of its brief collapse, all inspired by the discussion created by an area where ideas, discussion, and art converged. Right here in Riverside.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Continuing Participation with "LIVE" Blogging

On Saturday, May 21st my role for the Public Raffle was to be a "LIVE" blogger during the On the Line event. I chose to feature a couple of set-up activities from the event to be included as posts, since the raffle concept is integrated with the other programming that is scheduled. By communicating Edith’s previous structure for the Public Raffle (refer to March 29th and April 1st, 2016 blog posts) to Christopher and Kelsey, University of California, Riverside Anthropology students, I became aware of their familiarity with the area of Casa Blanca and memories of clotheslines. To stay focused on the multi-voice initiative that began this blog, I extended their participation beyond managing the raffle at Casa Blanca Library.
Public Raffle - Clothesline Objects
During the drawing of the raffle, I refrained from interviewing the raffle winner. We did have a casual conversation and I offered the opportunity for him to include a post concerning his experiences with the winning clothesline objects from the raffle. I understand with this approach there is a chance of not obtaining any future content, but I wanted the raffle winner to feel comfortable with sharing his experiences on a public post and have a chance to utilize the objects. The malleable characteristics of the blog offer an unlimited time to post as long as the blog is live.
Other technical aspects that I have considered from my experience of "LIVE" blogging are the strength of the Internet signal and unedited video footage. Posting unedited video footage to the blog posts made me consider my content for the post. I chose activities that offered more action related scenes than conversational pieces between participants. I believe the activities lend themselves to the unedited footage style, while documenting a few of the preprogramming events. There was not a strong Internet signal in the garden area of the Casa Blanca Library to upload video and images efficiently to my blog draft. I had to spend time in the library to upload and post. While this element is out my control it does affect the timing of my post and the media contents availability. My four posts are suitable for the shorter time-period event and type of accessibility of the Internet.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Casa Blanca Site - Afternoon of May 21st

The garden area of the Casa Blanca library was an enjoyable environment to have private conversations about clothesline experiences, view the performances and a suitable backdrop for the storytelling circle. 
This afternoon I got to experience the On the Line programming, while working with two other University of California, Riverside Anthropology students who were managing the public raffle. We kept Edith's methods of collecting names from the two previous library sites. I announced the winner of the raffle and learned more how they were going to use the objects. I am glad to have the opportunity to  experience the raffle within the program today.

Started Collecting Names

Collecting names for the public raffle. Drawing will be at the end of the programming at Casa Blanca site.

Continued Set-Up Casa Blanca Library Site

Tensegrity has just arrived for On the Line programming! Tensegrity is a principle by which elements subjected to continuous tension can compose a structure that is self-standing. The elements of the structure are held together by a continuous action similar to the subtle forces that join people in society. So, the structure not only evokes or symbolizes social connection with its clothesline-inspired shape, it enacts them.

Tensegrity by Nathanael Dorent (architect), Mike Grandaw (construction), and
Manja Van de Worp (nous engineering)

Casa Blanca Library Begin Set-Up

Begin set-up for Casa Blanca Library site Riverside California On the Line

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Laundry Stories

During the Arlanza "On the Line" event raffle, I engaged in conversations with people who entered their name. The topic of laundry is something that could be seemingly insignificant, but the stories I gathered show us how meaningful laundry can truly be.

One of the stories that stood out to me was that of Young Oh. He was raised in South Korea and remembers seeing his mother hunch over to wash clothing regularly. The constant strain on his mother's back caused her to need surgery. Oh expressed how grateful he is for his mother's effort and care. It made him want to pursue a career as a doctor and cure people who were sick like his mother once was. Oh's family found that in order to make their mother's life easier it was necessary for them to purchase laundry machines. He then explained that laundry machines are a luxury to him and his family. Young Oh's story made me realize that what may seem as something common in one part of the world, may be a very luxurious item in another. Most importantly, however, I learned of the undeniable sacrifice that mothers are willing to put for the care of their loved ones. 

Another story that comes to mind is that of Azeem Rahman. He told me that in England, where his family is from, there is almost always rain. Hanging clothes on clotheslines can be a very frustrating chore because the clothing may never get dry. Relative to the weather we have in California where it is mostly sunny daily, England can rarely enjoy "nature's dryer"; the sun.

In addition to these two stories, a couple of people expressed that doing laundry is very soothing. It is as if with every new change of  freshly washed clothing there is the start of something new. Another said that he dislikes the disappearances of his clothing in  the dryer. Having one sock without its pair can be frustrating. Ultimately, we all have at least one laundry story that has, in one way or another, shaped our perspectives on aspects of our daily lives.

Azeem Rahman (Far Right): winner of Arlanza raffle

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sunny Day on the East Coast

I took advantage of this sunny day on the East Coast to work on some footage that could  potentially be included with the experiences from the upcoming May 21st On The Line Casa Blance Library Site (Riverside, CA).

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

US East and West Coast - States' Legislation for Right to Dry

       The Public Raffle proposal offers a universal participation element without including monetary exchange. Instead the raffle offers the opportunity to acknowledge the California statewide legislation for “Right to Dry” that is intended for individuals to aid in energy conservation.
            The California statewide legislation intrigued me, so I investigated laws from my home state, Delaware. I have never been under a residency ordinance that prohibits hanging laundry outside. I have grown-up with the tradition of hanging laundry out to dry and have observed my suburban neighbors in the everyday practice.
            I have done some local research on my neighborhood restrictions that are dated from 1954. These restrictions are recorded with the State of Delaware Deed Records. Restriction number ten is specifically about drying laundry. Below the image shows the wording of the detailed instructions for drying laundry in the backyard. 

            Neither of my adjacent neighbors nor myself uses the portable revolving type of laundry dryers that is specifically mentioned in the description. My clothesline is tied to a tree in the backyard and is attached by an eyehook to the back porch area of my home. My one neighbor has a similar set-up for their clothesline. My other neighbor has old metal T posts that are permanently set-up in the ground to construct laundry lines. Those metal poles were there from my previous neighbor who lived there for many years. The couple that purchased the home recently repainted the rusty poles a bright lime green color and does use the laundry lines. In my neighborhood there have not been any restriction with various forms of laundry lines.
            A 2012 Sightline Institute article argues that outside laundry drying relies on solar energy. While laws in Delaware (Title 29 Chapter 80) allow for roof mounted solar energy systems there are no specific laws for clotheslines. The article refers to the State of Oregon law that voids restrictions on “solar radiation as a source for heating, cooling or electrical energy.” Solar rights in specific US states can include clotheslines as a low-tech version of solar power by the act of hang-drying, which relies on the sun’s radiation to evaporate water in wet laundry.  
             Southern California does have a different climate than the Mid-Atlantic region, especially with the changing of the seasons. 

  On a clear fall day, I rely less on solar drying and more on wind power for my laundry and energy conservation. In the fall season the sun’s heat is less intense in the northern part of the East Coast. Last fall, I was working through very preliminary ideas for the 2016 On The Line submission with video and capturing my wind blown laundry. The included video clip appropriately represents how the change of seasons does affect the everyday practice of drying laundry. 

California Becomes a “Right to Dry” State! (2015) [Internet], Berkeley, Nolo Law for All. Available from: http://blog.nolo.com/blog/2015/10/16/california-becomes-a-right-to-dry-state/
[Accessed December 8, 2015].

TITLE 29 Chapter 80 [Internet]. Delaware, State of Delaware The Official Website of the First State. Available from: http://delcode.delaware.gov/title29/c080/sc02/ [Accessed March 18, 2016].

Howland, J. (2012) Clothesline Bans Void in 19 States. [Internet]. Seattle, Sightline Institute. Available from: http://www.sightline.org/2012/02/21/clothesline-bans-void-in-19-states/ [Accessed December 8, 2015].  

Lyons, J. (2015) Brown signs bill reversing bans on clotheslines. [Internet]. San Francisco, SFGATE. Available from: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Brown-signs-bill-reversing-bans-on-clotheslines-6560304.php [Accessed December 8, 2015].

Friday, April 1, 2016

"En los tendederos"

As a child my family and I payed some visits to relatives who lived in Riverside. Being that Los Angeles (where I am from) is about an hour away from Riverside, I did not visit too often. Although my mother is very accustomed to the city life, I recall her saying things like "Riverside is very calm" and "There are many ranches here, it reminds me of Mexico". When we visited my uncle Hector, I remember thinking that Riverside was a smaller version of Los Angeles. In fact, many areas in Riverside have pasteurization of fruits and vegetables (especially citrus), farm animals, and ranches.

According to the census of 2014 approximately 48% of people living in Riverside identify as Hispanic or Latino. It is a possibility that, like my mother, many people love Riverside for its green lands, space for farming, and maybe even the resemblance that Riverside has to the places they once lived in. 

When I was admitted into the University of California, Riverside, I got a better feel for, not only the demographics, but also the impact that community involvement has on Riverside county. The most recent example of such impact is the "On the Line" art exhibition project. I found out about this project through Professor Susan Ossman during an Anthropology Club meeting. I was curious about it, so I told Professor Ossman I was willing to help. One of my main responsibilities during our first "On the Line" exhibition was to manage the raffle introduced to us by Carrie Ida Edinger. I was asked to make a poster that announced the raffle and I took the opportunity to show the environmental benefit of hanging clothing on clotheslines. I drew a long clothesline and hung a couple of pieces of
clothing on it. The sun on the poster was used as a way for people to see that the sun is a powerful source of natural energy that could help us dry our clothes faster and preserve colors better. 

I also wrote the words "Laundry Raffle" in English and Spanish. Based on what I know about the high population of "Hispanics" in Riverside I knew it would be beneficial to use Spanish to help incorporate more people into the raffle. As I was walking around to ask people to join the raffle I held conversations with those who only spoke Spanish and it made me realize that making a bilingual raffle sign is something that allowed "Hispanic" people to know that a raffle was happening in this event. It is a way of being inclusive of other people and let them know that we want them to take part of the event too. 

Being part of this project was one of the best decisions I have made during my time in college. With "On the Line" I heard people of many backgrounds take the basic concept of hanging clothing on clotheslines and turn it into something very poetic and significant to them. It deepened my personal understanding of the importance of paying mind to the seemingly minor details of everyday life. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Correspondence from Arlanza Library

            The public raffle was part of the March 5th On The Line one-day event at Arlanza Library in Riverside, California. University of California, Riverside Anthropology major, Edith Macias managed the whole raffle at the Arlanza Library.
            My correspondence with Edith began when I received an email with an attached image of the signage for the raffle.
Photo Courtesy of Edith Macia

          Our correspondence continued with me emailing her questions of how she managed the raffle, how was the participatory aspect received by the public, any interesting conversations about the raffle concept with clotheslines or the California state legislation with the “Right to Dry.”
            I intended to incorporate Edith’s experiences into my writing, which was planned to be posted on the On The Line website. This writing was part of my preliminary proposal to aid in the documentation of the background and experiences from the raffle.
            In her email Edith shared with me how she organized and managed the raffle. I was pleased that my proposal was not followed like instructions, but more as a loose structure. One example of the methods Edith used at the Arlanza Library location was that she collected names on paper for the raffle drawing instead of distributing prefab raffle tickets. Edith mentioned how her signage was effective by having the public approach her about what was being raffled off.
            As I began my first stage of writing, the bilingual signage is what provoked more questions about the participatory elements of the raffle. I knew Edith’s experiences came from either her research with the neighborhoods near Arlanza Library or she could have been some how familiar with the area.
            I knew my single author approach was not appropriate, since I did not attend the March 5th program. From my previous experiences with new media and research with digital humanities, I proposed to Edith and Susan Ossman, Director of On The Line program, that a blog was better suited for presenting the multi-voiced experiences and research from the raffle. Susan and Edith accepted the blog idea. 
            This blog, On The Line 2016 Public Raffle, has been launched to be a collaborative way of writing about the public raffle, while utilizing new media to extend the participatory concept from the public physical location (the library site) to virtual social spaces. 

Fox, R. ed. (1991) Recapturing Anthropology Working in the Present. Santa Fe, School of American Research.

Lippard, L. (1973) Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972. Berkeley, University of California Press.

Okely, J. & Callaway, H. eds. (1992) Anthropology & Autobiography. London, Routledge.
Pink, S. ed. (2012) Advances in Visual Methodology. London, Sage.               

Monday, March 28, 2016

Considering Library Sites

The On The Line exhibits and programming have always included national and global perspectives in conjunction with the Riverside, California community. Residing on the East Coast, I viewed the library as being a common local location that usually is found nationally in urban to rural environments. The library locations offer public accessibility within a community structure. The library sites for the 2016 On The Line program were among the main components that formed the Public Raffle proposal. 

Photo of Arlanza Library Riverside, California. 
Special Thanks to Susan Ossman and the shared Dropbox for On The Line 

Bishop, C. ed. (2006) Participation. London, Whitechapel.

Blair, E. (2013) Beyond Books: Libraries Lend Fishing Poles, Pans and People. [Internet]. Washington D.C., NPR. Available from: http://www.npr.org/2013/08/13/211697593/beyond-books-libraries-lend-fishing-poles-pans-and-people [Accessed August 13, 2013].

Rinehart, R. and Ippolito, J. (2014) Re-collection Art, New Media, and Social Memory. Cambridge, The MIT Press.

Glover, K. (2012) What Popular Culture is Telling Us About Libraries and Why We Should Listen [Internet], New York City, Library Journal. Available from: http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2012/09/opinion/backtalk/what-popular-culture-is-telling-us-about-libraries-and-why-we-should-listen-backtalk/#_ [Accessed February 26, 2016].

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Preliminary Proposal & Logistics for a participatory element for 2016 On The Line a Riverside, California based program

Preliminary Proposal           
I am proposing an open raffle as a participatory element for one of the 2016 On the Line one-day long exhibitions. The raffle concept will be in conjunction with the local community aspect of being held at a specific library site and the celebration of the statewide legislation to hang laundry in California. The raffle can also be viewed as a participatory element toward the engagement with discussion about laundry lines and understanding the On the Line exhibit.
The raffle will offer the opportunity for visitors of the On the Line outdoor exhibit to win the objects needed to personally participate in the statewide legislation. All the basic essentials to dry laundry outside will be the raffle prize. These objects include two packs of wooden clothespins, clothespin bag, a length of clothesline, two metal eyehooks (for hanging the clothesline) and a laundry basket. 

Preliminary Logistics
I am proposing a morning and an afternoon raffle drawing during the timeframe of the On the Line outdoor exhibit. The raffle timeframe can be for a half-hour to forty-five minutes before the drawing of the laundry line essential prize. The reasoning behind a short time frame for each raffle drawing is the timeframe of the one-day event and to include the public/ visitors that will be coming and going from the library site. This allows two chances to participate during the day event.
            The specific raffle times can be included with the marketing of the one-day event. During the event, students from University of California Riverside and/ or event volunteers can hand out free raffle tickets (1 per person) and communicate the prize, time and specifics of the raffle drawing as well as the art to be viewed/ corresponding events. Carrie will provide both prizes and raffle tickets. In addition, she will conduct the raffle drawing.   

Documentation and Archiving
            To document and archive this participatory element of On the Line, I (Carrie) will provide a text concerning the background and the participatory element of the event for the On the Line web presence. I would like to also collaborate with the person in the photo or video role of the exhibition to have images include with my text.