Louisville Institute Grant Award Supports Study of Religion and Spatial Justice in Silicon Valley
LRC Faculty Fellows Elizabeth Drescher and Jaime Wright have been awarded a $30,000 grant to from the Louisville Institute for their project, “Finding God in Googleville: Mapping Christian Presence and Spatial Justice in Silicon Valley.” The three-year project builds on Drescher and Wright’s previous work on geomapping the religious landscape of Silicon Valley to focus on the impact of religious presences and absences in addressing issues in neighborhoods most impacted by gentrification, displacement, and other effects of corporate development projects such as the Google Transit Village (known locally as “Googleville”). Still in its early stages, Googleville development has already resulted in dramatic increases in housing prices, displacing residents of already marginalized communities, limiting socioeconomic opportunities, and erasing cultural presences that ground social identity and neighborhood solidarity. The project, which will involve research by students in a number of place-based religion courses, will document how material assets of Christian congregations in Googleville are emplaced to support of “the least of these” in a region in which economic inequality is marked out on the landscape. A key product of the research will be a website, available to educators, church leaders, and community advocates, with a multilayered geomap of the Googleville area showing Christian congregations and associated on-the-ground assets along with demographic data that can support community organizing and advocacy for policy change.