As a Computer Science student at Stanford who is planning to join the tech industry in Silicon Valley, I enjoy discussing the sustainable future of the Bay Area. I am particularly interested in learning about gentrification and food insecurity in the Bay Area, and I hope to develop potential solutions throughout the quarter. This week we discussed a fascinating article, East Of Palo Alto’s Eden: Race And The Formation Of Silicon Valley by Kim-Mai Cutler. I’ve learned about how Intel, Google, Apple, Facebook, and many other tech companies were formed, but I did not know the equally important story about how small policies had multi-generational consequences on communities like East Palo Alto.
It was very eye opening to learn that about fifty years ago, white homeowners in Palo Alto refused to welcome a black family into their neighborhoods, which caused a division between neighborhoods. The federal government made this division even stronger by building the 101 Highway—a physical division between a white and black neighborhood—that has since then separated East Palo Alto from Palo Alto. Then 1975, a year before Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple in Los Altos, two Nairobi schools got fire bombed and burned down, just seven miles away from the garage that Apple was founded. Black (and other minority) families in the Bay Area faced discrimination and segregation unnoticed by the rest of society, while, at the same time many entrepreneurs were building the tech companies that are now known globally.
I enjoyed learning about how East Palo Alto was formed and I look forward to discuss the solutions that will allow us to construct a more just and sustainable Bay Area. I believe we can find a way for tech companies to continue growing while also benefiting the Bay Area community as a whole.