The Smoke Signal, MSJ's Official Newspaper


Berkeley Students Study MSJ Hotspots

“What makes Fremont special?” Willow Lung-Amam, a Ph.D. in landscape architecture and environmental planning at UC Berkeley and her students aimed to find out. They recently conducted a survey for a project that they do every year called Heart and Soul. The purpose of this project is to find what places people feel define their city. The students then analyze the top response in order to find out what social and physical aspects appeal to a specific community.

Lung-Amam chose Fremont for its ethnic diversity, and suburban outlook. She said, “ Fremont is very diverse and suburban in nature, which is ahead of its time. It represents what America is going towards in the future.” She and her students interviewed many people from eleven different organizations around Fremont, including Mission San Jose High School, Irvington High School, the American Association for Retired People (AARP), senior centers, and the social service.

At MSJ, Social Science Teacher Risha Krishna’s Ethnic Studies class was chosen to be a part of the survey to obtain a youth perspective. Krishna says about her involvement, “It was excellent. The students were animated and engaged.” However, at Irvington the sophomores in the Service Learning class were interviewed. When asked, Lung says “The responses varied widely from Irvington students to Mission students despite the similarity in age.”

Irvington students preferred the mall and several areas that were accessible by bus, whereas MSJ students tend to prefer places around the Mission area, such as cafes near Ohlone, and Tapioca Express. Common response among Mission students included Mission Peak, Top of the World, Lake Elizabeth, and Pacific Commons.

The survey in general elicited a variety of responses, such as the Secret Sidewalk, the Mission San Jose, Ardenwood, and even Costco and Safeway. Lung says. “Costco is not a designer’s ideal, but for the people of Fremont it represents part of their daily life, where they meet people and do things that matter to them. It is very different from Berkeley, where people identify their city with People’s Park rather than ordinary places like Costco.” As for the students at MSJ, Krishna said, “It was really interesting to learn about student’s lives outside the school environment.”

Written by Sloka Gundala
Mar 19, 2010 at 12:31 PM

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