I M M E R S I O N
An example of my immersive ethnographic work was a research project on the Venice Beach Boardwalk in Los Angeles, California. The project was focused on understanding power relationships among the vendors on the boardwalk, but it was incredibly challenging to build trust and to talk openly - they perceived me as a tourist. In order to get closer to the vendors, I became one. I got a license, started attending the weekly lottery for spots, started a small jewelry business, and spent a summer selling handmade rings on the boardwalk. This immersive experience was a critical step in building empathy and learning from the community. One of the most important ideas that emerged was an understanding of the the vendor’s daily routines to produce and reproduce the place and culture. The Venice Boardwalk embodies the tension between ephemerality and stability - it is produced and reproduced each day yet remains stable over time.