My research proposal and infographic had pretty different arguments and styles, so the feedback for each was different. The draft of my research proposal, I was told, gave a good historical narrative of water policy in California, and mentioned many potential areas of research. However, it was unclear how these all might fit together, and whether it was possible to fit all of the directions mentioned into a single paper. The overall structure was also somewhat disjointed and nonlinear and turned out to be very difficult to edit, which I’ll bear in mind going forward.
From presenting my infographic, I learned that the narrative of “cheated farmers in the Valley” is powerful and worth pursuing further. I confirmed my suspicion that we coastal types hear very little about what goes on in the Central Valley, but many of us are interested in learning, reinforcing the importance of some narrative component of my paper. I learned that highlighting broken promises on the government’s part is a good attention-grabbing tactic.
Although the pieces were there in my proposal, I’ve definitively focused my research on the question of how water activism in the Central Valley is split or united along ethic, occupational, or socioeconomic lines. For instance, the water-policy-focused billboards on the highway claim to speak for all the residents of the Central Valley. But are they really only speaking for wealthy farm owners? Only for medium-sized farm owners? Only for white people? I don’t know enough to construct a thesis yet, but my suspicion is that much of the Valley stands behind the fight for more canal water allocations, even as residents are divided on groundwater use and social issues