Methodology used to learn about Vallejo, California

May 21, 2010

I believe today I have practically finished my qualitative work in the city of Vallejo. Although I might visit it again with my wife and daughter just for fun. I have interviewed a lot of people from different important sectors. I think this relates in certain way to my interest in the theory of Systems of Innovation, even though it’s not used too much for local level. For this theory it’s crucial to understand the Actors, the Institutions and Networks. So that’s why I interviewed people from different sectors.

These are the people I have talked to:

Representatives from:

  • City Management
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Solano Community College (Center in Vallejo)
  • Schoold District
  • Historic Museum
  • Visitors Bureau (Tourist Office)
  • Great Vallejo Recreation District
  • Firefighters
  • Local Media
  • Citizens Groups
  • Vallejo Economic Development Commission (former members)
  • Vallejo Business Incubator (now extinct)

Individuals:

  • Around 30 individuals in the waterfront, streets and businesses.
  • Several business owners (accountants, lawyers, restaurant, retail, etc.)
  • UC Berkeley students who were originally from Vallejo
  • Around 15 people from the Bay Area, and Northern California in general.
  • City librarians
  • Bank workers
  • Construction workers

Academic support:

  • My advisor: Prof. Richard Walker
  • Several PhD students from different departments, but specially my colleagues from Geography.
  • Presented a seminar about my PhD project, in the Dept. of Geography last week, and I got feedback from UC Berkeley faculty and students

I always took notes, and in some occasions emails have been exchanged.  A couple of times it was done by telephone, but I always preferred face by face meetings.

There are two groups of people I have not been able to formally interview: The Policy and City Council. Regarding, the Police, two friends, who were family of police officers of Vallejo, gave me their emails and I asked them for interviews. I have not an answer since March. But I have informally talked about the issues to other cops. Concerning the City Council I have sent a few emails to the official addresses. I have not received an answer, but I understand it, as they might be full of spam or/and these elected politicians might be very busy.

Secondary sources, have come from a dozen of books citing Vallejo, most of them found in UC Berkeley (Public Policy and Bancroft Libraries) and the Library of the Naval and Historic Museum of Vallejo. Of special interest has been the outstanding XIX century newspaper publications of the city, Images of America by Jim Kern, and the official documents of the mid XX century with planning and local economic development plans. For most recent material, I have also gathered information from city publications and 11 newspapers with online edition (having read over 60 articles about Vallejo) and TV segments in youtube.

I have attended an key City Council, in which they Firefighters contract was renewed. To complement the qualitative research I have visited and observed the city several times for the last 3 months. As I can drive to Vallejo in less than 30 minutes from Berkeley.

Most of the sources have been used to understand the current situation, but I have also inquired about the historical development of the city.

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