Sustainability for the Contemporary Nomad Thesis
Molly Sherman is a student in Deborah Schneiderman’s Graduate Thesis class.
As it stands now, the prospects for migrants are bleak. The poverty rate among farm workers is two times that of other occupations and the average farm worker only has a 7th grade education. Additionally, 80% of workers are foreign-born, 53% are undocumented and a huge majority don’t speak English. Their lack of education, inability to communicate and fear of deportation, combine to create a workforce that is unable to stand up for their rights and, as a result, is unable to advance their place in life. Unfortunately, due to a loophole for agriculture in the US child-labor laws, even the American-born children of these workers are stuck in this cycle of poverty and undereducation. Children as young as ten are taken out of school to work beside their parents for 10-12 hours a day. The children who manage to stay in school are uprooted season-to-season as their families migrate with the harvest and, as a result, fall increasingly behind their classmates. These disruptions in migrant children’s schooling have led to a drop out rate of four times the national rate.
Through my research, I uncovered that the single constant on every farm across the United States is the farm-owned bus that transports the farm workers to and from the field each day. The bus remains parked on the site all day and often provides the only sliver of shade and, therefore, only chance at some relief from the relentless heat
Increasing the services that the bus provides is an affordable and sustainable way to empower and educate the migrant worker community consistently from farm to farm.
A simple re-design of standard bus seating and small interventions for storage, sanitation and shade, result in an adaptable environment that changes the function of the bus depending on the time of day.
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