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Swimming in Place: Community, Identity & Geography in Needles, CA

Authors: Christiana Saldana*, California State University - Long Beach
Topics: Applied Geography, Urban Geography, Qualitative Research
Keywords: Geographic Education, Community Engagement, Place, Participatory Research, Urban Planning, Urban Geography, Human Geography
Session Type: Lightning Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The planning and remaking of cities is a process of many interactions across scales. Planning Departments of the State, County and City publish documents detailing desired land-use, character and function of their jurisdictions. These documents are a formal attempt to determine the best land-use practices with regard to who the community is, their goals, aspirations and values. This research seeks to understand whether the creation of plans for the City and Community can be taken a step further, to utilize geographic themes in Needles, CA. Needles is in eastern San Bernardino County California in the Mojave Desert on the western bank of the Colorado River, bordering Arizona and Nevada. This area was first and is still home to the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe, whose tribal land spans the “Tri-State” or “River Cities”. People play a role in the production and analysis of geography whether cognizant of it or not. How can these contributions be leveraged? From shaping subject matter, to designing questions, to asset mapping, to creating discussion content for use with the community, infusing material from geographic education and themes from human geography could help examine the human-environmental interactions that shape Needles and its people. The understanding and accessibility created by engaging the community would serve as grounds for a richer, lasting dialogue about the future of Needles and the River Cities.

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