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.