Genevieve N. S. Ernst

Literary Journalism

Genevieve Ernst was looking for story ideas and became aware of the protests over the closing of the Irvine Meadows West (IMW) trailer park at UCI. In researching her story, Genevieve had the opportunity to enter the fascinating and unfamiliar world of IMW, one that was very different from the surrounding suburban environment. She continues to write narrative nonfiction; her experience in researching this story has led her to focus much of her writing on other small communities that stand out against the larger community in which they exist. When she is not writing, Genevieve learns by reading. She also enjoys traveling, dance and photography. triangle.gif (504 bytes)




Originally located where the Bren Events Center is now, the Irvine Meadows West trailer park provided low cost housing at UC Irvine for undergraduate and graduate students and faculty alike. After years of debate, IMW—later relocated to beside the Campus Village undergraduate housing community—was finally converted into a parking lot in July of 2004 as part of the University’s Master Plan to accommodate the growing need for parking. “Paving Paradise” documents my exploration of the IMW community in its final months and some of the controversy surrounding the closing of the trailer park. triangle.gif (504 bytes)

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Faculty Mentor                                                                                                                

Barry E. Siegel

School of Humanities

By telling a story, rather than simply assembling facts, Genevieve Ernst in “Paving Paradise” found a particularly effective way to document the controversy over UC Irvine’s plan to tear down a trailer park where dozens of students lived economical, unconventional lives. This topic obviously offered much promise, but it also presented the writer with practical problems and narrative obstacles. What most impresses, in the end, is how Genevieve Ernst overcame those problems and obstacles by finding her own narrative—an imaginative, insightful story full of personal voice. Only she could have written the piece as she did: By finding a way to spend two nights in one of the trailers and hanging out at the community campfire, she transformed a conventional “dispute” story into a rich, evocative portrait of a disappearing world. triangle.gif (504 bytes)

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