Jason Heppler, “Machines in the Valley: Growth, Conflict, and Environmental Politics in Silicon Valley.”
Machines in the Valley is a digital history project that serves as a companion to my dissertation. Between 1945 and 1990, the Santa Clara Valley experienced profound environmental change during an unprecedented wave of urban and industrial growth. With those changes came conflict over landscape change. Answering that question means extending historian Kenneth Jackson’s observation that “the space around us—the physical organization of neighborhoods, roads, yards, houses, and apartments—sets up living patterns that condition our behavior.” In Silicon Valley, the attitudes, ideas, and values that people impart on to nature—biological and idealized—reveals how ideas about nature played out in postindustrial American society. By examining the ways that people created place, the politics they engaged in to protect that place, and examining the physical changes to the landscape that resulted, my research argues for the importance of understanding how space creates politics. The story revolves around whose space Silicon Valley would become: A postindustrial trend-setter? A fertile and beautiful agricultural producer? A countryside paradise? A metropolitan leader?
Greetings! My name is Jason Heppler. I am a Digital Engagement Librarian and Assistant Professor of History at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a scholar of the twentieth-century United States. I often write here about the history of the North American West, technology, the environment, politics, culture, and coffee. You can follow me on Twitter, or learn more about me.