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  • Abstracts of Papers and Posters Presented at the 2005 APCG Meeting Phoenix, Arizona

Joseph Abraham, University of Arizona, Water Scarcity, Climate, and Adaptive Capacity: the Social Production of Drought Vulnerability in Rural Arizona. In Arizona, impacts of the recent (and ongoing) drought on municipal and community water systems have been most significant in rural parts of the state that lack access to stored and imported surface water and sufficiently large groundwater resources. In the Rim Country region of the state, water shortages have been attributed primarily to climate variability and drought-sensitive ground water supplies. This framing of water shortages and outages as impacts of a "natural" hazard has obscured social, political, and economic processes that have contributed significantly to limited water supplies. This paper provides a historical analysis of social and institutional factors contributing to the production of drought vulnerability in the Rim Country. The paper examines how water shortages, outages, and mandatory water-use restrictions in communities in the region have emerged from myriad factors including complex hydrogeology, climate variability, water rights, land management institutions, real-estate development, and state and county regulatory frameworks. The results of the study point to the challenges facing sustainable development in the rural western United States, in particular the importance of local and regional capacity to adapt to multiple environmental and socioeconomic stressors as part of a comprehensive program to mitigate impacts of climate variability and change.

Heike C. Alberts, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh,;and Helen D. Hazen, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Reflections on Focus Group Research with International Students. In this paper, we reflect on using focus groups as part of a multi-method research project, which investigated migration intentions among international students at a large U.S. university. Our paper addresses three methodological issues. First, many researchers discuss problems associated with recruitment techniques and the different perspectives of insiders and outsiders in qualitative studies using interviews or observation. We take up these themes in the context of focus groups, where such issues are often particularly complex. Second, we discuss the advantages that focus groups offer [End Page 153] over individual interviews, in particular opportunities for researchers to observe interactions between participants. A failure to analyze these interactions not only neglects one of the main advantages of focus groups, but can also lead to the overgeneralizing of results from a small and purposively selected sample. Third, we address some of the issues that arise when doing research with people of different cultural backgrounds in a single study, a topic that has to date received little attention in the methodological literature. In order to maximize the potential of focus groups, and avoid many of their pitfalls, we advocate using focus groups in combination with other data-gathering techniques.

Melinda Alexander,; and Anastasia Brewster, Arizona State University, Let's Get Ready to Rumble! First Fridays in Downtown Phoenix. This study examines the development of the burgeoning arts scene in downtown Phoenix, Arizona, to unravel the relationship between policy makers and artists, and secondly, to characterize the art district's present (re)incarnation as a monthly event, the First Friday. We identify key turning points in the appropriation of the built environment that now encompasses the arts scene, and we explore how visitors perceive the various arts districts, many of which have gained permanence and meaning as multiple-use, live and work spaces. To meet these aims, we employ interviews with key agents (city officials, gallery owners, and artists), surveys distributed to patrons, and perceptual maps drawn by patrons. Our findings indicate that, despite bouts of contention, the grass roots ethos of the arts district has emerged as one of the hopeful emblems of downtown revitalization. We conclude that while the city has influenced the land-use patterns within which galleries operate, the arts community has emerged with a life and meaning of its own as a scene of contestation and redemption, popularized by its edgy aesthetic.

Casey D. Allen,; and Ronald I. Dorn, Arizona State University, Biogeomorphic Response to the Cave Creek Complex Fire, Central Arizona: Preliminary...


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