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Project Update, Housing Research in San Diego: 11.6.23

The Dignified Learning Project is excited to announce some changes, namely our focus and current project. Still staying true to our critical perspectives and focus on transformative education, we have narrowed our focus a bit. Our organization is dedicated to advocating for equal access to transformative education, critically engaged research methodologies, and community-engaged dialogue. Part of this dedication is now embodied through our DLP Research Lab. We are excited to have launched this initially as part of Charlene E. Holkenbrink-Monk's dissertation on youth participatory action research, now expanding on this through housing research in San Diego.


Sunset with blue sky
Sunset in a busy intersection in San Diego

Our research lab team, currently focused on housing in San Diego, consists of Katie Brandi, a recent graduate with her MA in sociology, Nicolé Mendoza, a current MA student in sociology, Belen Rashidi and Elena Miller, undergraduates in sociology, and Charlene E. Holkenbrink-Monk, a lecturer in sociology and executive director of The Dignified Learning Project. This team of amazing scholars has supported this project, and we have some exciting updates.


The first is that we are looking at housing in San Diego, broadly speaking. Then, several weeks ago, Katie, Belen, and Charlene explored the Midway district, an area in San Diego that has been a hotspot for conversation on affordable housing. However, interestingly with this advocacy and discussion, Midway has also been a hotspot for racism, classism, and ongoing debate, as there was a diverse neighborhood there by the name of Frontier. Despite this and its lack of redlining, Midway, an area just outside of Point Loma, undergoes severe discrimination, and today's narrative repeats much of what we have seen historically in the area, and nationally, relating to housing discrimination. Katie Brandi pointed out similarities to redlining in the language that current politicians are using. Additionally, Belene noted some similarities to the typical commercialization of the area to others, indicating its lack of cultural foundation.


Blue sky with palm trees surrounding Pechanga Arena
Midway, Pechanga Arena

This has led us to focus on specific neighborhoods in San Diego. By using visual research methodologies, including photographs that we have taken, we are currently working on drafting one of several peer-reviewed pieces surrounding Frontier, and then other areas in San Diego. We are excited by the prospects, and our long-term hope is that we will be able to explore the longstanding history that San Diego tends to repeat within its housing, especially with the cost of living skyrocketing, pushing out generations of people here in San Diego, displacing families and cultures from much of the heart of this city. "America's finest city" is by no means, for all, as evidenced by the onslaught on housing and the unhoused, working class, and the lack of political accountability.


Our focus is on Frontier, so if you know people who lived in Frontier, we will be recruiting participants in the near future to document their lived experiences. That will result in a separate visual project, ultimately resulting in a hopeful documentary about the state of San Diego housing. On that note, if you would like to get involved in any capacity or have questions about our findings so far, we would love to share that with you - just reach out! Meanwhile, stay tuned for more findings, and when we publish our first peer-reviewed article, we'll be sure to share that with each of you. And while we are focusing on Frontier right now, our goal is to identify specific cultural backgrounds, experiences, and how gentrification impacts these neighborhoods across the San Diego area.


One last thought: This is part of our educational efforts for a dignified life. While this does not have a direct connection to say, the classroom, this is one of our efforts for applied research. As you'll notice, many of those involved are students, and the intention is for critical mentoring that highlights the possibilities of what could be, a better future for all, and the ways that this is an educational project. The dissemination of knowledge is a key component of The DLP. Additionally, we will be exploring the intersection of housing and education, something that we also invite you to stay tuned by subscribing to us here or at our Substack, where we will disseminate the actual findings.

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