福Fu ture 氣Chinatown by Deng-Shun Chang & Georgia Guthrie
Deng-Shun Chang Georgia Guthrie
Fu Chi: Future Chinatown Published by
211 South Broad Street, 5th Floor Philadelphia, PA 19102 Copyright ÂŠ 2011
Copyright © 2011 by Deng-Shun Chang & Georgia Guthrie Illustrations copyright © 2011 by Deng-Shun Chang & Georgia Guthrie Photography credits: All photography created by © 2011 Deng-Shun Chang & Georgia Guthrie unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced–mechanically, electronically, or by any other means, including photocopying–without written permission of the publisher. Cover design by Deng-Shun Chang & Georgia Guthrie Book design by Deng-Shun Chang & Georgia Guthrie Masters of Industrial Design at The University of the Arts 212 South Broad Street, 5th Floor Philadelphia, PA 19102 First printing June 2011
Submitted in partial fulfillment of requirements for degree of Master of Industrial Design at The University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA by Deng-Shun Chang and Georgia Guthrie
committee chair dr. diane sicotte
director jonas milder
211 South Broad Street, 5th Floor Philadelphia, PA 19102 Copyright ÂŠ 2011
Abstract The Fu Chi project aims to use design methodology to improve communication, raise civic engagement, and increase cooperation among multilingual residents and organizations in an immigrant neighborhood. The project focuses on Philadelphiaâ€™s Chinatown, where the lack of communication and trust manifests itself in visible ways, such as the trash littering streets, crime, and apathy among residents. The project organizers approach these problems through design interventions, including visualization of the demographics of Chinatown, facilitation of cooperative meetings with leaders of the community, and creation of a social media system to build informal contacts and help bridge the communication barrier. The overall objective is for residents to transition their feelings of apathy to feelings of hope and confidence that their opinions and concerns matter. By starting a dialogue within the community, residents and leaders can build trust, identify common goals and work towards them in a more coordinated, efficient way.
To my family, who’s been on the other side of the ocean, encouraging and supporting me throughout my education. Even though you’re far away, I don’t feel lonely. And to Claire, for the unlimited amount of care and understanding that kept me going with the project. - Danny To my entire family; parents, step-parents, my sister, and aunts and uncles, for all your support, encouragement and confidence in me. Without you I would not have had the courage or perseverance to pursue this field and tackle this worthy project. - Georgia
Acknowledgements Thank you to our committee chair Dr. Diane Sicotte, and our advisors Mark Headd, Neil Kleinman, Sherry LeFevre, and Jonas Milder. The guidance and variety of perspectives you added to our process helped us make it stronger with every meeting. Thanks to Bula and Salas for giving us a reality check and helping us re-evaluate what it takes to build trust in a community. Thanks to the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation for their help and support of our project. A very special thanks to all the leaders and residents of Chinatown.
Table of Contents 08 14
Chapter 1 Foreword Chapter 2 Design Manifesto
22 Design Phase I Identifying the Problem
Chapter 3 Philadelphiaâ€™s Chinatown
34 Design Phase II Visualizing
48 60 70
Chapter 4 Personal Perspectives Chapter 5 Community Dynamics Chapter 6 The Big Picture
76 Design Phase III Connecting
78 82 90
Chapter 7 Community Infrastructure Chapter 8 Creative Workshop Chapter 9 Publicity
94 Design Phase IV Testing Prototypes
96 104 110 118 122 130
Chapter 10 Social Technology Chapter 11 Inspiration Chapter 12 Fu Chi Philly Chapter 13 Chinatown Clean Up Chapter 14 Future Steps Chapter 15 Appendix
The history and growth of Philadelphiaâ€™s Chinatown exemplifies that of any U.S. Chinatown, yet it has experienced singular challenges in maintaining its geographic foothold. To prevent further encroachment, it is imperative to unite residents, businesses and organizations. However, coordination and cooperation among these groups have been difficult to attain. For these reasons we designed a variety of communication methods specifically for Philadelphiaâ€™s Chinatown, to help its citizens and organizations address themselves, each other, and the greater Philadelphia community.
The Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation, serving the community since 1969, marks the boundaries of Chinatown between 8th and 13th street, from Filbert to Spring Garden Street.
C DENG-SHUN H A N G
Coming to the U.S. alone as an international student from Taiwan, Iâ€™ve faced many challenges. They may not be life threatening challenges, but I understand the importance of being independent yet united with my fellow Chinese people also far away from home. I relate to Philadelphiaâ€™s Chinatown not just through culture and ethnicity. I value the courage and independence of the people who came here all the way across the ocean and started a brand new life. I also appreciate the existence of a place like Chinatown which provides comfort and support to newcomers. This is why I chose to work on a Chinatown project. I hope to use my knowledge and contribute to a community that I value and share a connection with. 12
G U T H R GEORGIA I E
Everyday we experience mundane, tiny frustrations. I chose to pursue design when I realized that I see these frustrations as a starting point to make things better, especially for people with fewer opportunities than I’ve had. As a student in MiD I’ve had the chance to integrate new technologies and design to facilitate communication, which usually improves how things function. When deciding on a thesis I had trouble narrowing my ideas, so I was happy to be paired with Danny to focus my interest in technology and communication. Although cultural differences have made some aspects of this project hard for me to understand, I’ve enjoyed getting to know and experience the warmth of Philly’s Chinatown. The work that we’ve done makes me very hopeful for the future of the neighborhood, and excited to share our work with others so they can experience all that Philly’s Chinatown has to offer and build upon it in other projects and communities. 13
Team Fu Chi joins a brainstorming session at Philly Data Camp.
Design as a Cycle The MiD program strives to find ways to make the industries and networks that surround us work better for the people who use them in a user-centered approach to design, sometimes called Human-Centered Design.1 This approach has several phases that are outlined below: Identifying the problem through research Visualizing Connecting Testing Prototypes These are phases of a cycle that is repeated to refine a design, though the project work often falls into multiple phases at once and moves through them in a non-linear way. In the following section and throughout the book there are additional explanations of each phase to give the reader further understanding of this design process. In addition, key words are italicized and defined in the glossary section at the end of the book. During our studies, weâ€™ve become familiar with a range of design tools, or interventions, to apply to problems. We had several potential interventions in mind when we began the project. These included making visual representations and charts, using technology to facilitate communication and promote social behavior, and applying our skills in facilitating meetings and decision-making in a community meeting or organization in Chinatown.
Identifying the Problem through Research
Testing Prototypes Visualizing
The MiD Process at Work When searching for a problem to address with our thesis, it was obvious that something wasnâ€™t working in Chinatown. Trash bags litter the streets, residents and business owners donâ€™t hesitate to list problems in the neighborhood, and a sense of anonymity and neglect is palpable. Yet coming to understand why this was the case took a sustained effort. By asking questions, observing, and conducting surveys to identify the problem, we came to understand that the neglect was a symptom of a much larger problem, which will be pulled apart throughout this book. In the visualizing and presenting phase, various design techniques helped us uncover aspects of this problem, synthesize findings, and communicate them in a clear and understandable way to stakeholders and the public. These techniques included taking photos to illustrate the problem, creating story lines about different facets of the problem, presenting to community leaders, and brainstorming a publicity campaign. These tasks are commonly associated with the work of a designer, but are actually a small part of the work of a designer.
With deeper understanding synthesized from our visuals, we moved to the connecting phase. This phase involves mapping out all the pieces of the project and adding notes to document our thoughts and developments. Crime dramas often show detectives standing in front of a large bulletin board full of photos, bits of news, and other clues connected by string. This is exactly what we do to understand our problems and work through them, but our connecting phase also involves connecting people, stakeholders, and resources to achieve the change necessary to address the problem at hand.
This particular design process is organic, messy and cyclical, but we were unable to complete more than one cycle in our timeframe. This methodology emphasizes pushing a design through the phases to make it usable, and then make major gains through refinement, rather than getting it right on the first try.
The MiD model also recognizes that the best design not only provides a solution to the problem, but also a process to maintain and refine that solution. To support this maintenance process we researched options for funding and applied for grants to sustain the project The last phase involves making a prototype to test among beyond our brief time frame. This extended timeframe a small group (beta test) in order to identify problems, fix would also allow the community organizations, who have them, and then test it with a larger group. Our prototype their own agendas and limited resources, to evaluate the was a social media platform that could be used by project and assess whether continuing it would be useful. residents to report issues and learn how their neighbors felt about the community.
User-Centered versus Traditional Design To illustrate the MiD process and how it differs from traditional design, we offer a counterpoint in the design and construction of the Philadelphia Police Headquarters, sometimes called the “Roundhouse,” adjacent to Chinatown on 8th and Race Streets. After its construction in 1963, the police headquarters building garnered much attention as an example of Brutalist style architecture popularized by Le Corbusier. Brutalist style is recognizable by its use of large concrete slabs and innovative window placement and structural forms, exemplified in the window pattern and curvilinear shape of the “Roundhouse.2” Although some Philadelphians think the building resembles handcuffs when seen from above, the architect Geddes has said it is designed “to create a real sense of civic identity in the building,” the first structure to house the police force after it moved out of City Hall.3
The location has proven convenient for the police force; especially after the Vine Street expressway was built. However, not much else about the building has enhanced the reputation of the police in the city, or served its occupants well. From today’s vantage point the building “appears as a fortresses for establishment power,” noted by Philadelphia Architecture critic Inga Saffron.4 Geddes did structure the building to respond to the police force’s request to have one public space flanked by two securityprotected areas (comprised of the two cylindrical shapes)5 yet most of the considerations for the design were based on pushing aesthetic boundaries by experimenting with the medium of concrete.
The Philadelphia Police Department Headquarters, or the “Roundhouse,” is an example of traditional design that prefers pushing aesthetic boundaries over addressing human considerations.
If Geddes had followed a similar process to the MiD design methodology, he would have researched how the nationâ€™s best police forces work together and organized the new workspaces to facilitate a similar dynamic. Knowledge of what the public likes to see in its police force and perhaps anecdotes or surveys from police officers about their needs could further inform the design and appearance.
It may seem unfair to compare design practices that occurred fifty years apart. Yet the fields of design and architecture, as well as current online and digital mediums, are still largely dominated by a similar focus on new materials and aesthetics with much less thought to a product or designâ€™s everyday use. The MiD program strives first to address the needs and desires of the user, and then integrate those aspects with aesthetic trends.
(Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Police Foundation)
Design Phase I
Identifying the Problem
One major thinker in design problem-solving was Horst Rittel, a theorist and professor of the Science of Design at University of California, Berkley. Rittel promoted a rational approach to design, borrowing from the fields of science and engineering. He is best known for his emphasis of the difficulty of understanding a problem, and his description of these problems as “wicked;” a condition of their size, complexity, and the conflicting values of the people and stakeholders they involve. Rittel’s point of view was that defining a problem is inherently subjective, making agreement on the actual problem difficult. Sometimes wicked problems can be tamed (never solved completely) but taming them requires the people involved to have ample information, and to talk, deliberate and argue about the problem and its causes.6 22
We knew that Chinatown’s problems fell into the “wicked” category, and at first we hesitated to tackle a problem so complex in a community where we were outsiders. After some consideration we decided it was better to make an attempt and see how far we could get. With Rittel’s work in mind, we took several months to develop a clear problem statement. The littering and neglect in Chinatown seemed significantly different than in other Philadelphia neighborhoods, even those with high immigrant populations, so we started by investigating what exactly was different about Chinatown.
Identifying the Problem
As we peeled away layers of the neighborhood, the problem seemed to involve a lack of civic engagement, understanding of American customs, or and English fluency. We finally concluded that the problem had to do with the broad range of cultural backgrounds and dialects of residents, as well as fragmentation among organizations serving the neighborhood. Simply put, there is a lack of communication that leads to a lack of trust among residents and organizations in Chinatown. The complex communication barriers in Chinatown is a lot to grasp. Phillyâ€™s Chinatown has always been, and continues to be, a destination for new immigrants from Asia. Although these new immigrants come from all over the continent, currently the largest percentage of new immigrants are from the Fujian province of China, speaking Fujianese or Mandarin.7
As we spoke to more people in the neighborhood we saw that this communication problem touched all areas of life in Chinatown. Many dialects have their own associations: the Fujianese and Cantonese have several, which help business owners and residents. English-speakers of Asian heritage have their own organizations through which to get involved in the neighborhood. There is no shortage of people who care about Chinatown and want to work to improve the neighborhood, but they have significant barriers to overcome to communicate with each other. Though we knew we would not be able to solve this problem, we were confident that we could design interventions to increase communication in a few specific ways.
Design Phase I
What is a Dialect?
Dialects of Chinese Guan 官
Written Chinese Simplified Chinese Mainland China
Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau
Dialects of Chinese Guan 官
Min 閩 Written Chinese includes: Fujianese, Taiwanese, Teochew Xiang 湘 Simplified Chinese Mainland China
Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau
includes: Cantonese, Taishanese
includes: Fujianese, Taiwanese, Teochew
Hakka 客 Yue 粵
includes: Cantonese, Taishanese
Hakka 客 Traditional Chinese
A dialect is defined as “a variety of a language that is distinguished from other varieties of the same language by phonology, grammar, and vocabulary, and by its use by a group of speakers who are set off from others geographically or socially.8” We often hear the example of a regional dialect; for English this could be Ozark or Appalachian dialects that have distinct vocabulary, grammar and accents that are different from other varieties of English.9
Identifying the Problem
Words like “jawn” or “wiz wit” are considered part of the dialect of Philadelphia; English speakers from other regions don’t use these words and are not familiar with their meaning.
jawn: a thing or person wiz wit: cheesesteak with onions and cheesewhiz People who speak Chinese use a wide range of dialects and pronunciations. All varieties of Chinese are tonal; each syllable can have a number of different meanings depending on the intonation or pronunciation. Mandarin has four tones, Cantonese has six or nine tones, and Taiwanese has seven tones. Mandarin is the official spoken language of the People’s Republic of China, though many people living in China have another dialect as their mother tongue and can only understand some Mandarin. In the region of cosmopolitan Hong Kong the primary dialect is Cantonese. As described by Matthews and Yip in Cantonese: A comprehensive grammar, “differences among Chinese dialects such as Cantonese and Mandarin are significant, making them mutually unintelligible.”10
In addition to differences in spoken Chinese, written Chinese takes two forms, simplified and traditional Chinese. Simplified Chinese is the standard written language for the People’s Republic of China, though people from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and many older generations grew up writing traditional Chinese and therefore prefer it. Traditional Chinese provides more detailed characters to produce nuanced phrases, as opposed to simplified Chinese where meaning of the characters is derived more from the context of the phrase. Overlap in written versions of Chinese is high however, so most readers are able to understand either version.
Dialects of Chinese Guan 官
Yue 25 inclu
Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau
The Friendship Gate, a symbol of friendship between Philadelphia and Tianjian, China, has been a landmark of Philadelphia’s Chinatown since its dedication in 1984.11
Chinatown’s Past Philadelphia’s Chinatown was began like many other U.S. Chinatowns in the mid-late 1800’s when immigrants from China who came to the western U.S. for the gold rush moved east for work; deterred from returning home by the Tai Pei Rebellion.12 Once the workers saw the economic opportunities in the area, they notified others on the West Coast and in China which started a mass influx of Chinese people to eastern cities such as Philadelphia.13 The first business in Chinatown was a laundry opened in 1870 by Lee Fong at 913 Race.14 In that year the census counted a population of 13 Chinese individuals, which exploded into 1165 individuals in 1900, with 276 living in Chinatown. In the 1870’s this area of the city was inhabited primarily by German and Irish immigrants and referred to as the “tenderloin” district, featuring many burlesque theaters and rooming houses. The Chinese immigrants arriving at the time were primarily men who resided in a “bachelor society” which continued until the 1965 Immigration Act that relaxed regulations and allowed these men’s families to emigrate.15
(Photo courtesy of Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies)
This photo depicts a typical front counter of a hand laundry business. The washed clothes are wrapped in brown paper packages and the owner is doing arithmetic using an abacus.
(Photo courtesy of Phila. Dept. of Records) Race Street: 1959 - Now.
Throughout its history the area has hosted a majority of merchant and service-oriented businesses to meet the needs of immigrant workers and help them interact with mainstream society such as accounting and law firms, driving schools, insurance services, and providers of herbal medicine and acupuncture.16 A newspaper in 1907 reported, â€œWhen one passed along Race Street between Nine and Tenth Streets in the daytime, Chinatown seems all but deserted. But walk along Race St. at night. How different a scene! The brilliant, many colored electric signs in front of the Chinese restaurant are glowing splendidly. The street is crowed with Chinamen, big, little, fat and thin Chinamen. 30
(Photo courtesy of Brian Hsu)
(Photo courtesy of Phila. Dept. of Records)
(Photo courtesy of Project for Public Spaces) Vine Street: 1951 - Now.
Like rats, which emerge from their holes when night comes forth, they sit on door steps in little groups and chatter to themselves as they smoke their long stemmed pipes.17”
expansion of Independence Mall,18 and the latest expansion of the convention center, completed in April 2011. Other threats to build a baseball stadium and a casino were effectively defeated by the community.
Such racism persists against residents of Chinatown both in subtle and obvious ways. In the late 1950’s proposed construction of the Vine Street Expressway called for the demolition the Holy Redeemer Church and School, a landmark of the community. To protest this redevelopment, the community mobilized its residents and the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation was formed in 1969. The community has faced repeated challenges to its geographic boundaries through the years, including the construction of the Gallery Mall, the Philadelphia Convention Center,
In December 2009 around 50 Asian students were attacked by schoolmates, mostly black students, at South Philadelphia High School.19 Asian students boycotted classes for more than a week in protest and filed a civil rights complaint to the U.S. Justice Department with the help of the Asian American Legal Defense Fund. The complaint stated that school officials acted with “deliberate indifference” in the face of blatant ongoing racial discrimination at the school.20 As a result of investigations by the school board, the school’s principal was fired; the civil rights litigation is still pending.21 31
History of Chinatown Mural painted by Arturo Ho in 1995 depicts themes of the hard work of early Chinese immigrants; family life, the fight to Save Chinatown, the redevelopment of Chinatown.23
Chinatown’s Present In 2000, Ellen Somekawa and Debbie Wei, two Chinatown activists, asserted that “Chinatown has been neglected by the city government, which has provided little to no public assistance that would ensure residents receive basic services. Currently, it has no public school, recreation center, library, health care center, or park.22” This statement is still partially true, though the current Mayoral administration has made efforts to address these issues, such as creating the Office of Asian American Affairs, increasing the amount of printed materials available in Chinese and providing access to other translation services. A new park has been built in the formerly abandoned Franklin Square, which is located near the neighborhood but not within its bounds. Walking there involves crossing the busy Vine Street expressway.
(Photo courtesy of Neal Santos, Phila. Citypaper) Helen Gym and members of Asian Americans United protest school violence against Asian students in 2009.
Design Phase II
As designers we strive to use graphics to enhance understanding. The master of data visualization Edward Tufte wrote, “At their best, graphics are instruments for reasoning about quantitative information. Often the most effective way to describe, explore, and summarize a set of numbers – even a very large set – is to look at pictures of those numbers.24” By visualizing demographic information we aimed to further understand the demographic make-up of Chinatown.
Visualizing our survey data from spreadsheet to infographics.
What bothers you the most in Chinatown?
Issues that bother you the most in Chinatown?
60% 5 - least troublesome 40%
2 1 - most troublesome Crime Crowdedness Trash
Crime Crowdedness Trash
Have you ever taken action to solve these issues?
Chinatown is not respected as much as other neighborhoods so there is no reponse
Quickly and effectively
How do you think the city responds to these issues?
It takes some time but they responded eventually
% .56 % 24 3.33 3
New survey Old survey
1 No response or action taken
4 only 1 only from residents/ workers
4 only only from residents/ workers
Who Lives in Chinatown? We turned to the census in order to find statistical information on Chinatown. The most recent data from the 2010 census would have been most useful, however the detailed statistics we were looking for had not been released during our project timeframe. We therefore relied on the 2000 census figures. We defined the area of Chinatown according to the boundaries of the service area of PCDC, the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation, from 8th St. to 13th St. and from Filbert St. to Spring Garden St. This boundary is highlighted in red. We collected the census data within block groups, the smallest geographical unit of data available, which are outlined in blue. The area covered by the block groups is larger than Chinatownâ€™s actual boundaries, but covering a large area is more accurate than using a small area to represent the whole. The block groups that cover the area of Chinatown are: Census Tract 2, Block Group 1, 2, 3 Census Tract 5, Block Group 1, 2, 3 Census Tract 126, Block Group 1, 2, 3, 4 Census Tract 127, Block Group 2, 3
Chinatown is highlighted in red and Census block groups are highlighted in blue.
Total Population Total Population Chinatown
Median Income in 1999 Median
Chinatown Philadelphia City/County Philadelphia City/CountyChinatown
Chinatown Philadelphia C
3,570 3,570 1,517,550 1,517,550 $22,007$22,007 $30, Chinatown occupies only 0.2% of total population of Philadelphia, but the number is still underestimated due to a large undocumented population.
Median Household Income in 1999 Race in Percentage 3.75%
Race in Percentage
0.05% 4.74% 2.45% 4.29%
0.05% 4.74% 2.45% 4.29%
Poverty Threshold $17,029
Chinatown Philadelphia City/County Philadelphia City/County
White Alone White Alone Black or African American Alone Black or African American Alone American Indian and Alaska Native Alone American Indian and Alaska Native Alone Asian Alone Asian Alone Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander Native Alone Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander Alone Some other race Alone Some other race Alone Two or more races Two or more races
Educational Attainment Educ by
Median Income in 1999 Median Income in 1999 6.82%
y/County Philadelphia City/CountyChinatown
6.82% 23.85%32.02% 9.22% 14.15%
Chinatown Philadelphia City/County Philadelphia City/County
,550 1,517,550 $22,007$22,007 $30,746$30,746 Household Type in Percentage Household Type in Percentage
Speak English Speak English 37 M No Less than HighNo Some Less than Bachelorâ€™s High B School School School School College High School Degree School VeryHigh well 31.61% Very well 31.61%
35.99%35.99% Live in a Nuclear Family
Live in a Nuclear Family
31.56% Well 40%
3.75% Chapter 3
0.05% 4.74% 2.45% 4.29%
Race inPercentage Percentage 0.29% Race in 3.75%
40.62% 0.05% 4.74% 2.45%
White Alone Black or African American Alone American Indian and Alaska Native Alone Asian Alone Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander Alone Some other race Alone Two or more races
21.99% 0.87% 0.87%
White Alone White Alone Black or African American Alone Black or African American Alone American Indian and Alaska Alone American Indian and Native Alaska Native Alone Asian AloneAsian Alone Native and Hawaiian andPacific Other Pacific Islander Alone Native Hawaiian Other Islander Alone Some other race Alone Some other race Alone Two or more races Two or more races
Household Type in Percentage Household Type in Percentage
35.99% Live in a Nuclear Family
Household Type in Percentage
Household Type in Percentage 38
35.99% Live Alone
Live in a Nuclear Family
Speak Eng 5.13% Live in an Very Extended Family
Very well 3.61% Philadelphiaâ€™s Chinatown
Very well 20.12%
Year YearofofEntry Entry
Year Well of Entry Speak English 34.67%
Not well 28.87%
38.38% 38.38% Foreign Foreign Not at all 58.25% Born Born
Not well 28.87% Age: 18 ~ 64
61.62% 61.62% Native Native
Speak only English Speak Asian and Pacific Island Languages 1965 19651969 19691974 19741979 19791984 19841989 19891994 19942000 2000 Age: 65+
sh Foreign-Born Foreign-BornPopulation Population d Pacific Island LanguagesNaturalized NaturalizedCitizen CitizenPopulation Population
55.27% 9.04% 9.04% Foreign Foreign Born Born
90.96% Age: 90.96% 65+
Not at all 58.25%
e: 18 ~ 64
Well 9.28% Not at all 13.21%
Place Well of Birth 9.28%
Very well 3.61% Not well 32%
Place PlaceofofBirth Birth
Philadelphia PhiladelphiaCity/County City/County
The 1964 Immigration and Nationality Act removed barriers for Chinese immigration. The foreign-born Residents in 1995 population in Chinatown has been increasing since then.
9.04% Foreign Born
Residents in in 1995 Residence 1995 29.81%
Same House Different House in US
Different House at Foreign Country
Same The greater number of House people with different residence indicates a transient population, which makes it hard to build relationships. Different House in US Different House at Foreign Country
8% Chapter 3
Educational Attainment by Percentage
65~ 65~ 60~64 60~64 Educational Attainment by Percentage 55~59 55~59 50~54 Spoken 50~54 at Home Age by Language 6.82% 32.02% 23.85% 9.22% 14.15% 13.94% 45~49 45~49 40~44 40~44 Chinatown 35~39 35~39 30~34 30~34 Speak English Speak English 25~29 25~29 More than 20~24 20~24 No Less than High Some Bachelor’s Bachelor’s Very 31.61% Very well 20.12% Schoolwell High School School College Degree 15~19 15~19 Degree 10~14 10~14 28.75% 31.56% Well 40% Well 34.67% 5~9 5~9 63.52% 0~4 0~4 61.05%
Not well 28.39%
Philadelphia City/County Not well 32% Chinatown Chinatown Philadelphia Philad
Not at all 13.21%
Chinatown has larger percentages of people without a high school education, and people who have a bachelor’s or higher.
Age: 5 ~ 17
Age: 18 ~ 64
Age Distribution in Percentage
Age by Language Spoken at 10% Home Age 2% 4% 6% 8% 12%
65~ 60~64 55~59 Speak Speak English English 50~54 45~49 Very Very well 31.61% well 31.61% 40~44 35~39 Place of Birth 30~34 31.56% 31.56% Well 40% Well 40% 25~29 63.52% 63.52% 20~24 9.04% 15~19 Foreign Not well Not 28.39% well 28.39% 10~1438.38% Born 5~9 Foreign 0~4 Born Philadelphia City/County 40
Age: Age: 5 ~ 175 ~ 17
Age by Age Language by Language Spoken Spoken at Home at Home Speak only English
14% Speak Asian and Pacific Island Languages
Speak Speak English English Very Very well 20.12% well 20.12%
Well 34.67% Well 34.67%
28.75% 28.75% 61.05% 61.05% 11.34%
Not well Not32% well 32% 29.81%
Not atNot all at 13.21% all 13.21% 58.85%
Age: Age: 18 ~ 64 18 ~ 64 Chinatown
14% Philadelphiaâ€™s Chinatown
AgePercentage Distribution in Percentage Age Distribution by 8%
65~ 60~64 55~59 50~54 45~49 40~44 35~39 30~34 25~29 20~24 15~19 10~14 5~9 0~4
The age distribution in Chinatown differs a great deal from the rest of Philadelphia; there are fewer young children, but many more young adults, indicating more people who have recently immigrated.
Age by Language Spoken at Home
Speak English Very well 3.61% Well 9.28%
41.31% Very55.27% well 20.12%
Very well 3.61%
Not well 28.87%
Not at all 58.25%
Not well 32%
Chinatownâ€™s younger and older generations a higher incidence of Asian Welllanguages 9.28% as their first language. Among the younger 61.05% generation, many speak English well, while in the older generation the majority not28.87% speak Notdo well English well.
Not at all 13.21% Age: 65+ Age: 18 ~ 64
Not at all 58.25%
More to the Story The social organizations serving Chinatown have collected their own data on the range of dialects spoken in the community and perceptions residents have of the neighborhood. The Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation (PCDC) conducted a survey in 2010 made contact with 1893 households, with a response from 185 of those, and generously shared it with us. This data provided a much more detailed understanding of quality of life issues and satisfaction in Chinatown. Some of the most interesting statistics are listed below:
“satisfied” or “very satisfied” living in Chinatown.
The discrepancies among some of these statistics raised questions for us. How can so many people be satisfied living in Chinatown if they think that cleanliness is such a problem? For a population that includes so many extremely poor people, why aren’t more of them familiar with the organizations there to support them like PCDC?
household income was $9,999 or under.
the cleanliness of the community as “poor” or “very poor.” 42
“not at all familiar” with PCDC.
PCDC’s survey also provided a much more detailed understanding of the range of dialects and the rate of bilingualism in the neighborhood. This chart shows the breakdown of different dialects of Chinese in the neighborhood. PCDC’s survey did identify small percentages of people who speak other non-Chinese languages in the neighborhood, including Vietnamese (2%), Russian (1.8%), and French (0.1%).
Dialects of Chinese in Chinatown
Guan 17% 48%* 9%*
Guan 17% 9%*
Dialects of Chinese in Chinatown Guan (Mandarin) Min (Fujianese, Taiwanese) Hakka Yue (Cantonese, Taishanese) Guan, Min & Yue *% of speaking two or more dialects
*% o 43
Measuring Engagement To answer additional questions that were particular to our project we created our own survey. We also thought it was a good practice to collect some of our own data to compare it to what others had found. With the help of advisors in Psychology and Sociology, we developed our survey to cover some material similar to that of PCDCâ€™s survey, and also understand if respondents take action to remedy the problems they see in the neighborhood.
After hearing from respondents that the format was confusing, we redesigned the questions and tried again with a much better result. This difference is reflected in our data, which shows a first and second version of the survey.
Our survey was conducted both in English and Chinese.
The survey had a mix of multiple choice and open-ended questions, including: What problems do you see in the neighborhood? Have you ever taken action yourself to address any of these problems? If you have taken action, what did you do? 1) called someone responsible 2) attended a community meeting about the issue 3) joined a community group 4) organized a group to deal with the problem If you didn’t take action, why not? 1) language barrier 2) don’t feel comfortable contacting officials/ police 3) did not know whom to contact 4) Other: ____________________________ We surveyed people on the street, in coffee shops, at the grocery store, at local laundromats, and at Sunday worship services, targeting residents of the neighborhood. In total we surveyed 82 people total, 21 of whom were residents. 45
YES NO YES NO
Have action to2 solve these issues? 1 2you3ever 4 taken Total count 3 4 issues? Total count Have you ever taken action to1 solve these 80% 100% 60% 80% 40% 60%
Occupation in Chinatown
20% 40% 40%
New survey Old survey
30% 20% 20%
Total count 1 for residents
Total count for residents
Total count 1 for residents
Total count for residents
New survey First survey Old survey Second survey
Occupation in Chinatown Occupation in Chinatown 40%
Occupation in Chinatown
30% 40% 20%
First survey Second survey
30% 10% 20% 10%
First survey Second survey
These results confirmed the findings of PCDC that people in the neighborhood were generally unaware of the organizations serving them (including PCDC). When faced with a recurring problem or nuisance, the majority of respondents who did not take action said that they simply did not know whom to contact. We found it interesting that among respondents who were students or professionals, over 50% had taken action about a problem. Among respondents who held positions as cooks or general laborers, only 10% had
taken action. These statistics confirm the anecdotal evidence we found: many residents of Chinatown are focused on earning money for their families, and devoting time to other activities is a luxury. We also noticed many people were reluctant to voice their opinions because they felt that they weren’t important or didn’t matter. We saw this reluctance as another potential barrier to communication that we would have to address.
Responses to the question “What problems do you see in Chinatown?” where size correlates to the frequency of the word among responses.
A group of seniors joins the weekly dance class at On Lok Center for Seniors in Chinatown.
The census and survey data had given us a great breadth of information about Chinatown residents, but we wanted to get some depth to our knowledge as well. To understand the problem on a personal level we sought out longer conversations with people in the neighborhood to get their perspectives. We started by contacting people we already knew in Chinatown, asking for their impressions and then asking if they could recommend other people to talk to with useful points of view. We attended worship services at the Chinese Christian
Church and Center, visited the local senior center, the On Lok House, and asked people on the street to talk to us. We tried to reach as wide a range of residents as possible, although finding people willing to spend the time was challenging. We are very thankful to have found several residents and business owners who helped us immensely in understanding the needs and wishes of other people like them in the neighborhood. Their stories are featured on the following pages.
â€œI have little connection to the neighborhood just because of being Chinese.â€œ - Ray 50
Dedicated to the Community Ray and Jurica are a young couple living in an one bedroom apartment in Chinatown. They decided to settle in Chinatown together because of its convenience to food and main highways that they both use to get to work. Despite both being Chinese descendants and having lived in Chinatown for few years, their sole connection to the community is the Chinese Christian Church and Center, of which they are both active members. When they are not working, they attend church services and volunteer in multiple church activities such as teaching kids English and SAT preparation.
The church provides services and programs to meet the communityâ€™s needs and encourages its members to put their faith into practice by serving the neighborhood through various activities. Outside of the church community though, other barriers tend to stop the enthusiastic couple in their outreach. Jurica was born in Hong Kong and Ray knows some Mandarin, but neither is comfortable conversing in Chinese, which hinders the connection they have to their neighbors and the Chinesespeaking community. One day, the power went out in their apartment building, putting the elevator out of service, and the couple had to take the stairs to their fourth floor apartment. The building management posted signs indicating that they were working on the problem, but as the days became weeks nothing happened. They called the property manager, and were promised that it would get fixed soon. Meanwhile the lights in the staircase were beginning to burn out. About a month later they were replaced and the elevator was repaired. Ray and Jurika didnâ€™t think their phone call made much of a difference, but at least they were able to communicate with the building owner and get some reassurance that the problem was being handled. They wondered what their neighbors must have
thought; many of them have large families with children, and donâ€™t speak English. In the power outage, they must have adjusted somehow, but accepting such a drastic change without knowing what will happen or being able to ask someone to fix the problem is hard for them to imagine. Overall, Ray and Jurica are satisfied living in Chinatown. The only drawback they see is that the street is not clean and not safe at night. They simply accept this as part of the neighborhood and continue to contribute through the church. They are part of the young professional portion of Chinatown that is deeply motivated to help the neighborhood in numerous ways. The fact that they continue to put in effort despite feeling distance from some of their neighbors speaks to the warmth and generosity that is present in the neighborhood, and the need for a communication medium between neighbors.
The Chinese Christian Church and Center has been a hub of activity in the community for decades, and offers worship in Mandarin and English, as well as many other services for residents.
Young and Involved Esther is a young hardworking woman who settled in Chinatown four and a half years ago. She came to Philly after completing her degree in Chicago, and started working for a financial company in the suburbs. A daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, Esther went to Mandarin school growing up, and loves the food in Chinatown (she doesnâ€™t cook). She often stops by the bakeries to order her favorite bubble milk tea, getting to know the owners of the shops and restaurants. Esther is a very active member of the community and the Chinese Christian Church and Center. In addition to volunteering with the church she is a member of the National Association of Asian American Professionals, and is one of two official Committee people for Chinatown. In these roles Esther has worked with many community organizations to make improvements in the neighborhood, and manages the polling place for Chinatown during elections. Esther loves being so involved, and likes the fact that many people in Chinatown are willing to lend a hand to help make improvements in the neighborhood. Although things have been steadily improving in the neighborhood, Esther wishes that she felt safer on the street at night. She knows there are frequent robberies, but there was a rape reported in the news several months ago that made her feel even less safe. In the past she has gone to the police stationâ€™s community meetings to talk about these issues. At one meeting she suggested chopping down some branches around the street lights to make the street brighter, and was surprised and happy to see that a few weeks later the branches were removed. 53
â€œOn my wish list for Chinatown, I would have a park on the old viaduct similar to the High Line in NY.â€œ - Esther 54
Personal Perspectives The Reading Viaduct located in the Chinatown North neighborhood has been abandoned since 1984.
As the neighborhood improves Esther hopes to see more diverse businesses open and more places to sit outside to take in the atmosphere. On her wish list for Chinatown she would have a community center and a park on the old viaduct similar to the High Line in NY. Esther has a special place in her heart for Chinatown, which will probably grow as she plans her wedding and reception at the Chinese Christian Church and Center, with the reception at Asian Arts Initiative gallery this spring. Esther is another highly motivated and active member of the community separated by language from her neighbors. Her knowledge and enthusiasm for the neighborhood is an asset, yet her potential impact is hindered because her ability to discuss what she knows with her neighbors and the people she interacts with is limited.
Active and Social On most Tuesday mornings you can find Ms. Au at Chinatown’s On Lok Senior Center, practicing Tai Chi and dance led by instructors. Ms. Au grew up in Taiwan and studied English all through school. In 1988 she emigrated to the U.S. to join her husband and family. She lived in Chinatown for a year and then moved to the Northeast and bought a house. When her children were grown up and moved away she sold her house and moved to a condo in Chinatown. She likes the convenience of the neighborhood; the bank, the post office, the grocery store are all within
walking distance, and she can take the subway to get to places outside the neighborhood. She also likes to play poker and often goes to her “club” at the Coffee Cup shop to play with her friends. She calls this gathering her club because there are many other clubs that residents her age belong to, such as Cantonese and Fujianese associations that have events and gatherings for residents. Coming from Taiwan, Ms. Au doesn’t speak Cantonese or Fujianese, and there are no associations for Taiwanese or Mandarin speakers. When asked what Ms. Au doesn’t like about the neighborhood she wrinkles her forehead and says, “It’s too crowded.” She mentions the bags of trash that are left on the street as an indicator of the crowding because
people don’t have the space to keep their trash in their apartments. When she lived in a house she could just put it in the backyard. She also thinks the dirty water draining from some restaurants onto the sidewalk is unpleasant. She knows the neighborhood has a Cleanup Day, and that’s a good thing, but there are also so many businesses and restaurants that contribute to the problem. Recently she’s noticed more homeless people around, and sometimes when she’s walking at night she feels frightened. She is also aware that the neighborhood has a town watch, but doesn’t know where they patrol. In the Northeast she was a driver in her local town watch.
Ms. Au thinks Chinatown is more involved in Philly city politics than before, especially during the anti-casino protests. She liked the idea of having a casino nearby, she thought it would be fun to go. For now Ms. Au is very content meeting her friends in Chinatown for poker or dance. She has a computer at home that her kids bought her to receive email. She still prefers to hear their voices on the phone, but she does use her computer to play games sometimes. Ms. Au makes active use of resources in the community, yet despite her frequent social activities she feels separate from others in the neighborhood.
Working Hard for a New Life Near the dragon mural on 10th and Cherry Street you may notice some posters with a young woman modeling clothes near a stairway leading down to the basement. This is the Kumei Gift Shop, owned and managed by Duan. Duan has came to the U.S. from the Fujian province of China five years ago, first living in New York City, then moving to Philly after a year to be closer to relatives. She opened the small clothing and accessory store and has built her business by providing outstanding service and getting to know her customers, who often become friends.
Opening the business wasn’t easy; because of the language barrier, she had to pay lawyers to deal with getting a license and renting the space for the store. Although this was complicated, she doesn’t see a lot of other problems in the neighborhood besides the trash. As a business owner she pays a tax to cover the expense of street cleaners, but she doesn’t see that this tax is making a difference. She knows about the local Fujianese association but hasn’t reached out to them about it. Duan says business has been worse since the casino opened on Delaware Avenue, because many residents go there and spend their money and then can’t afford to buy things in her store. She would like to be able to move
to a street-level storefront, but the rent is far too high about four times what she pays now. Her husband runs a printing business down the street. They are both working to establish themselves enough to then have their children join them here in the U.S. Right now they are still living in China with relatives in order to learn Chinese well. For the most part, Duan is content running her store, visiting with the customers that come in, and crocheting in her spare time. She loves to show her finished projects
to visitors and often crochets while conversing with customers throughout the day. Duan has confronted the language barrier in Chinatown and temporarily overcame it by paying a lawyer to help her open her store. When she has a problem in the store or with the neighborhood she relies on other people to take care of it, thereâ€™s not much she can offer to do. Her main concerns are running her store and saving for her children to come and join her.
Social Organizations get together for Chinatownâ€™s Spring Clean Up.
Underlying Forces in an Immigrant Community Studying the sociological dynamics at work in an immigrant community like Chinatown helped us understand important concepts that were manifested in Chinatown. In their comparison of ethnic enclaves and social cohesion in Toronto, Qadeer and Kumar present useful analysis of the processes at work in concentrated ethnic communities. Like the communities they studied in Toronto, Philadelphia’s Chinatown constitutes an ethnic enclave; an area inhabited by one ethnic group, which has engendered corresponding religious, cultural, and commercial institutions. Unlike a ghetto, which is usually inhabited by one ethnic group marked by socioeconomic disadvantages, an enclave is economically distinct and sufficient, and its members choose to live there. Some sociologists assert that enclaves isolate their members from opportunities and present a form of self-segregation and disadvantage, but the comfort many residents experience in being near others of similar background, familiar cuisine and shops is undeniable.25
Negative perceptions about these concentrated communities sometimes persist from outsiders with the assumption that they are intentionally excluded, or that such concentrations impede cultural assimilation.26 For members of the dominant ethnicity, the benefits of living in such a community usually outweigh the drawbacks, due to the potential for them to find work, build a social network that is stimulating and familiar, and access opportunities through social ties, or “Social Capital.” The social organizations in Chinatown, whether they are government-funded or community-based, are extremely important to meet the social and economic needs of this concentrated community. The scholar Min Zhou writes how social organizations form a link between these enclaves and mainstream society.27 Emerging middle-class immigrant communities, which Philly’s Chinatown has in its group of young professional college graduates, have weaker social capital and more financial capital. These communities are also better connected to the outside world in economic, social and political terms.28
Annual tax prep workshop helps Chinatown residents file taxes.
Chef Joseph Poon gives a Chinatown food tour to the public, an excellent example of a way to build social cohesion.
This degree of connection immigrants have to the outside world is one way to measure social cohesion. Qadeer and Kumar explain social cohesion as a process that promotes a “reduction of disparities, inequalities and social exclusion, and strengthens social relations, interactions and ties.” As a concept, social cohesion could be measured by how often members of different ethnicities may encounter each other face-to-face in a neighborhood, and the quality of those interactions. High social cohesion “creates a common ground of civil, economic and political rights enabling individuals and (ethnic) communities to fulfill their full potential.” Situations such as the violence against Asian students at South Philly High School indicates that students are more aware of their differences rather than what they have in common, indicating low social cohesion. Spatial segregation (which enclaves perpetuate) can deter social cohesion, because there are fewer opportunities for members of the enclave
PCDC coordinates the annual Spring Clean Up.
to intermix with residents of the greater community, hindering understanding and empathy. Unsurprisingly, actions that increase social cohesion involve widening the social network of people in an enclave: strengthening public education, increasing employment equity, and promoting political participation.29 Increasing these aspects is exactly what the community institutions in Chinatown have been working to do. Lena Sze writes about how the churches and the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation have become hubs of activity in an attempt to form these crucial social bonds and address fragmentation.30
Stronger Together The benefits of an enclave community include numerous social relationships, which can constitute a form of capital. Capital is the means by which humans acquire the fruits of labor and is the underlying concept that makes society work.The scholar Pierre Bourdieu wrote about a social form of capital that takes shape in the resources available via a network of “institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance or recognition - or in other words, membership in a group - which provides its members with the backing of the collectively-owned capital, a ‘credential’ which entitles them to credit...31” Social Capital is different from other forms of capital because it requires constant maintenance. A key element at work in these social bonds is trust. Francis Fukuyama, in his often referenced book Trust: the social virtues and the creation of prosperity, discusses that in its manifestation as social capital, trust has been linked to economic prosperity to varying degrees in different cultures depending on their intrinsic levels of trust. Fukuyama writes about the difficulties businesses in China have confronted because so many of them are family-owned and there exists little intrinsic trust in the culture outside of the family unit.32
Social Capital is one benefit of a semi-closed community like an enclave. In some immigrant communities, the social capital may be more beneficial than actual capital,33 but this is not the case in Philly’s Chinatown, where the internal social capital is limited because of the language barriers and fragmentation of many of the immigrant groups.34 This lack translates to fewer economic opportunities, but because social capital facilitates the spread of knowledge35 this also means residents have less access to helpful information. This aspect was demonstrated in PCDC’s survey and our own, where many residents admitted that they are unaware of the services available to them or whom to contact to report problems. In Philadelphia’s Chinatown, dialect barriers hinder the spread of social networks, social capital and information, yet this still does not completely explain why the numerous organizations serving Chinatown are unknown to many in the community.
What Makes a Community Work Numerous sociological studies have indicated that there are several common elements that all residents want in their neighborhoods; to live in safe and orderly environment free of crime, to have economic sufficiency, good schools, and adequate housing. Chinatown’s leaders and residents of Chinatown have repeatedly named similar goals. The capacity of a community to achieve these goals is encapsulated in the concept of collective or community efficacy, defined by sociologist Robert Sampson as “the linkage of mutual trust and willingness to intervene for the common good…36” Elements of community efficacy include the number of informal relationships, which build trust, as well as the willingness of individuals to intervene for the common good.37 In communities with high levels of home ownership, informal relationships and the mutual trust they create is more common because residents have time to get to know each other.38 Unfortunately, in Chinatown there is a much higher rate of tenant turnover, demonstrated by the census data on page 39, creating another barrier
to formation of social ties in addition to language differences. We saw through our interactions with Chinatown residents that though they agree on the neighborhood’s problems, many people don’t feel that their opinions matter. In addition, the perception that the conditions in the neighborhood are just a part of life to be accepted indicates that a will to intervene is almost non-existent. Not only do informal relationships have a positive impact, but also their lack presents opportunities for negative seeds to take root. Sampson writes that crime and distrust have reciprocal effects on community and social capital; that these blights make people withdraw, weaken informal controls that prevent crime, and deteriorate business conditions. “The alienation, exploitation, and dependency wrought by resource deprivation act as a centrifugal force that stymies collective efficacy. Even if personal ties are strong in areas of concentrated disadvantage, they may be weakly tethered to collective actions.39”
There are several organizations serving different segments of the community.
Through our efforts to understand Chinatown, we learned that there are a number of highly motivated and connected individuals and organizations in the community. These organizations include the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation (PCDC), Asian Americans United (AAU), Chinese Christian Church & Center (CCC&C), Chinatown Neighborhood Watch, Holy Redeemer Church and School, FACTS Charter School, Chinatown Restaurant Association, On Lok Senior Center, Asian Arts Initiative, Organization of Chinese Americans, Chinese Benevolent Association, the Fujianese Association, the Cantonese Association. All of these organizations have different missions, and serve slightly different segments of the community.
In his article â€œWhat Community Supplies,â€? Sampson concludes that stable organizations that work together are the key to collective efficacy.40 Therefore, even though the organizations serving Chinatown have an uphill battle to combat the unwillingness of residents to get involved and build relationships with each other, perhaps the most important thing they can do is cooperate with each other to achieve common goals in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, our observations and interviews indicated that this was not the case.
The Big Picture
Annual tax prep workshop helps Chinatown residents file taxes.
Complexity of the Problem Taking a step back from all the detailed information we had gathered will help clarify the problems and subsequent opportunities we chose to address. Philadelphia’s Chinatown is composed of residents from a range of backgrounds, languages, education and socioeconomic levels. Residents of Chinatown love the convenience of the neighborhood, but they often feel distant from each other because they don’t speak the same language. There is a high concentration of poor people in the neighborhood, many of them working hard to make ends meet without time for other activities. Many residents recognize and agree on certain problems but they don’t know whom to notify about them and are reluctant to voice their concerns or opinions about these issues. Though there has been a Chinese presence in the area for over a century, numerous redevelopment efforts have
encroached on the geographic boundaries of Chinatown and continue to squeeze the neighborhood into a smaller area and limit available housing. These efforts constitute a subtle form of racism against Asians also seen in a lack of some community resources, but Asians have been the subjects of outright violence in other areas of Philadelphia. A community of concentrated ethnicity like Chinatown often provides residents with familiar comforts and access to opportunities through social contacts. These communities can also limit social cohesion among members and the greater community, perpetuating negative assumptions and limiting the community’s capacity to achieve its potential. Trust among individuals and organizations is vital for a community to achieve its goals, but trust in Chinatown is limited because of language, fragmentation of organizations, and high residential turnover.
Trust among individuals and organizations is vital for a community to achieve its goals, but trust in Chinatown is limited because of language, fragmentation of organizations, and high residential turnover. 72
The Big Problem
Though we created visuals to help build our own understanding, we decided to make them public on our project website to help other outsiders, or members of Chinatown see the demographic information and get a more detailed understanding of the diversity and similarities among the people who live there. Though PCDC also lists these statistics on their website, we wanted to share the visual forms we had created, which were easier to understand, and could help people As mentioned previously, we had several ideas for design compare their own lives and backgrounds to those of interventions when we began the project. After gaining a Chinatown residents, finding common ground they might not have expected. Even without the text, these visuals multi-faceted understanding of the problem, we started to target our interventions toward specific audiences; the make the different facets of the lives of Chinatown’s general public, Chinatown’s leaders, and the residents of residents abundantly clear, and may be helpful for those who don’t speak English. the neighborhood. By starting with the issue of trash on the street, we uncovered a much larger issue than we imagined, of which trash was just one visible symptom. The actual issue we were confronting with this project is the difficulty in communication and coordination of an incredibly diverse population fighting to maintain and cultivate its home in Philadelphia’s center city in the face of redevelopment, racism, and gentrification.
Social Media System
The Big Problem
Chinatown Demographic Profile Visualization
Design Phase III
In the connecting phase, we try to connect accounts of how things work, and uncover what doesnâ€™t work. This aspect of our process is similar to detective work. Detectives seek to reveal what happened and why, relying on visualization to help make connections and make sure nothing is missed. In our case we seek to reveal how things are actually working in the situation at hand, which often differs from how the people involved think itâ€™s working. Through our visualization and synthesis of research we had already uncovered inconsistencies in residentsâ€™ perceptions of the neighborhood, such as the fact that they are mostly satisfied living there, but also agree that cleanliness is a problem. Our goals for this phase were to move beyond the residents and find out how the organizations in the neighborhood worked together.
We began by mapping all the key people involved in the Chinatown community, and interviewing as many as possible about how they thought the neighborhood worked. This phase was also an important opportunity to connect stakeholders to our design process, to include them so that whatever further interventions we proposed would be helpful, inspiring, and manageable in working towards common goals.
Community Name of Chapter Infrastructure
Establishing Links To make contact with all the leaders of the Chinatown community, we started by asking people we knew for introductions, and to identify those with prominent positions. We didn’t get a reply from everyone, but those that we did make contact with were helpful and supportive of our project.
In addition to contacting leaders in Chinatown, we contacted leaders working on issues for people of Asian ethnicity in Philadelphia’s city government. David Torres, the Assistant Managing Director for the City of Philadelphia was a great help in explaining the language services available to Philadelphia residents. Philadelphia’s major languages are Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Russian. Part of his job is to make sure all materials from the city are available in all of these languages, which takes a great deal of coordination. He explained that he relies on community organizations to let him know how best to provide materials, and in the case of Chinatown, he works closely with PCDC to provide adequate translation services for the residents. From information supplied by PCDC, his office has focused on providing printed materials in traditional Chinese, which would serve the older population of Cantonese-speakers, or immigrants from Taiwan like Ms. Au, but not the younger Mandarin-speaking immigrants from the Fujian province like Duan. Mr. Torres also described the city’s new 311 phone system, developed as a way for people to report
issues and ask questions. Philly 311 and 911 emergency services are available in all languages, to get a translator all the caller has to do is say, “No English” into the receiver, though there is a time lag in connecting to a translator. Philly 311 is also developing a text and smartphone application that will be launched over the next year to increase the ability of residents to report issues, but this system will only be available in English and Spanish in its first year. As in the case of Mr. Torres, some of the best information gathered in our connecting phase was about how individual leaders perceived the work of other community organizations. In some cases, leaders stated that everyone in the neighborhood worked well together. In other interviews we heard about rivalries and mistrust between organizations, which hindered collaboration. Clearly there was a major disconnect of opinions, or what leaders were willing to tell us. For these reasons wanted to take the opportunity to create a design intervention in the form of a workshop with as many leaders as possible. Such an event would be beneficial to further gauge the level of communication and collaboration in the neighborhood, and help the leaders see what goals they had in common.
In addition to gathering information from these leaders, we wanted to hear how important it was for them to know the opinions and concerns of residents, in their own words. If we could incorporate similar quotes or endorsements into our project to let residents know that the community leaders cared about their opinions it would be a powerful way to encourage people to be more vocal. This would be one way to address the unwillingness of residents to express their opinions, and if the community leaders had a better understanding of our project they could do a lot to help us spread the word and raise the profile of our project in the neighborhood.
Mr. David Torres
Assistant Managing Director City of Philadelphia
Former Main St Manager PCDC
Ms. Lee Au
Ms. Mabel Chan Owner Joy Tsin Lau
Mr. John Chin
Executive Director PCDC
Mr. Harry Leong Director CCC&C
Chinatown’s Future The ability of design to clarify, explore, and communicate can be extremely useful in the context of meetings. In our design practice we learn to exponentially increase the effectiveness of meetings. In some cases we design meetings to help illuminate existing practices and idiosyncrasies of a particular situation so the stakeholders can recognize them, and suggest ways to implement change. Needless to say, much thought needs to be put into such meetings to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that participants are not offended when potentially unfavorable practices come to light.
We knew a vital part of our project was to help Chinatown’s leaders and residents move beyond discussion of the current problems and envision a future for the neighborhood that would draw them together. We decided to design a workshop to create an opportunity for the leaders to imagine that future. With the help of one of PCDC’s board members, we picked a date, made a detailed plan for the meeting, and extended invitations to as many Chinatown leaders as possible.
Fu Chi Team brainstorming at a Code for America event.
Create for/with Chinatown Workshop 85
These cards were designed to facilitate the envisioning exercise in our workshop.
The first part of the workshop consisted of an envisioning exercise. We designed cards with a variety of phrases about the future of Chinatown, leaving certain parts blank, and distributed them at the start of the meeting. Workshop participants filled in the blanks on as many cards as they wished. They were then asked to work together to sort the responses into similar categories, and pick the top categories. The resulting categories included having a safe, clean, economically vibrant environment, rich cultural interactions, and the construction of a community recreation center, which is a current project of PCDC.
Participants were then asked to write out possible steps for achieving these visions. These steps also revolved around particular themes. Participants discussed the need for more promotion of current events, and coordination among organizations to provide cultural interactions for the numerous tourists in the area. Education was named as a key factor to help businesses learn best practices and provide excellent customer service. Opportunities for the younger generation to learn the history of the neighborhood and struggles of the older generation were also suggested, as well as ways to help the older generation understand politeness and American customs. 87
Participants had a lot to say about how the neighborhood currently functions: “Everyone’s just doing their own thing, but if they pool their resources and work together we could have wonderful results”
“Communication or just getting together is hard”
“The community has to learn what its responsibilities are, rather than to be takers, be givers” “there are too many chiefs, everyone wants to be boss”
“What we need is not just space development, it’s people development”
Participants concluded that the combination of these factors “…makes an environment where nothing gets done, and its very frustrating working with all these groups,” and that to achieve their visions would take “a lot of work.”
Leadersâ€™ Creative Workshop
After concluding the meeting it was clear that the leaders of Chinatown rarely have a chance to step back from their current projects and think about the neighborhoodâ€™s future together without constraints. We suspect that the quality of the dialogue in this meeting was significantly different than other community meetings. We hoped that the summary could serve as a first step toward building a movement to achieve the visions these leaders have for To make these results easy to share and reference, we created a summary document of the workshop detailing the neighborhood, which are shared by most residents. the exercise, the goals participants had named, and a The process of building community efficacy will take selection of the quotes. We sent this summary to all years, but we thought applying our skills to this moment was a useful intervention that may pay dividends in the participants and posted it on our website, encouraging others to use it to spark future conversations and dialogue future. about the needs of Chinatown. Creating a complete plan with clearly defined steps would take significantly more time than we had available at this meeting. However, we thought that the goals named by the leaders and their comments about how the neighborhood works were very important and valuable outcomes.
Putting up posters to promote our focus group session.
From Yi Xiang to Fu Chi As our project continued to take shape we needed to come up with a name for it. There is a whole subcategory of design devoted to this practice called branding. A brand is the identity of a specific product, service or business and all the associations a customer or user develops with that product, service or business for better or worse.41 Billions of dollars are spent every year building these mental associations, in many cases to entice consumers to pay more for products, which sometimes gives branding a negative connotation. Coming up with a suitable name or brand for a service that communicates clearly to the target audience is vital to its adoption.
We needed to come up with a short, descriptive name that would stick in the minds of our potential users and help them remember our project. We started by thinking through words that imparted the idea of voicing concerns, forming a discussion, and the appearance. We came up with Yi-Xiang, 議相 its characters “talk/ discussion” and “photo/phase/ appearance” sound the same as to the word 意象 for “image.”
Despite the posters, the name Yi Xiang wasn’t recognized in Chinatown.
Getting the Word Out Though we thought this name was a good fit, when we started using it to describe our project, the combination of words was confusing for both English- and Chinesespeakers. English-speakers had almost no chance of pronouncing it correctly on the first try, and Chinesespeakers were confused by the unfamiliar placement of these two characters together. After multiple sources indicated that the name was puzzling, our Englishspeaking classmates repeatedly butchered the name, and a branding professional helped us understand how it was a failure, we went back to the (white) drawing board. We spent a few afternoons filling a whiteboard with synonyms for the words “voice”, “acknowledge”, “community”, “vigor”, “future”, “hope”, “power.” We focused on the Chinese word “Chi,” which many Englishspeakers are familiar with, meaning “energy.” Finding a complimentary word to go with Chi didn’t take long, the correlation with Chi to Chinatown helped us settle on Fu Chi for Future Chinatown, but also meaning 福 氣 or fortune/ happiness in Chinese. The satisfaction of finding a name that fits is like snapping the last puzzle piece in place, so with this name we were energized to start building a logo, posters, and other visuals to create an identity for our project.
Having a name meant we could start talking about our project in a more meaningful way, and create compelling visuals to encourage action among Chinatown’s residents. The first steps were to create a home online for our project, with the url www.futurechintown.com and Twitter handle PhillyFuChi. We then designed a logo and added it to all of our printed materials and website. We came to understand that for our project to be accepted by residents of Chinatown, we needed to build recognition and trust with them as well. We outlined a plan to open an informal “Chinatown Information Center” where we could be the staff that would answer questions and gather stories from residents to use in our project. We investigated temporarily using an empty storefront space in the neighborhood for this purpose, but without a budget or much time to devote to these plans, we decided to include them in the second phase of the project (this book covering the first phase) and applied for a grant to fund them. At the time of this writing we are waiting for notification of acceptance or rejection, and researching other opportunities for funding.
Design Phase IV
The final phase outlined in the MiD process is building and testing a prototype. This phase is important to actually put something out in the world and see how it works, moving past the less tangible activities of research and brainstorming. This phase can be challenging and disappointing, especially when you find that all the research youâ€™ve done hasnâ€™t prepared your designs to survive the real world, yet this is the same reason why this phase is important. Part of the MiD design process is to make major refinements to designs and prototypes through iterations, repeating the cycle of identifying the problem, visualizing, connecting, and then testing again. In our case we had an idea to use technology to facilitate communication at the beginning, and we developed this intervention while we researched and developed the others, though it took longer to get the system ready for testing.
Mark Headd showcasing his mobile application during Philly Data Camp.
Using Social Media to Build Community Social media has become a buzz word over the past few years with the rise in applications and users. The applications and systems developed are manifestations of the incredible potential of the internet, which has increased the possibility to forge meaningful interpersonal connections over time and distance for almost 30 years.42
Many of the newer social media technologies such as blogs, Twitter, and mobile applications make it much easier to form semi-anonymous ties based on common interests that allow for massive organization and coordination of groups.43 Although some of their potential has been demonstrated, such as in the recent political uprisings in the Middle East, the way groups use them and how they can best deliver information constitute a new realm of behavior that has yet to be analyzed.
Participants of the Philly Data Camp documenting the moment on Twitter.
We wanted to experiment with creating informal relationships via social media. This could help build the essential element of trust by providing an alternative to face-to-face communication among different language-speakers that is rare in Chinatown. Another reason to use social media in this context is that when “people with bridging ties (weak ties across groups) use communication media, they enhance their capability to
educate community members and organize for collective action...”45 The people with bridging ties in this case would be the young professionals in Chinatown. Because our website and system would be public it could also help build shared understanding and empathy, and therefore increase social cohesion among the greater Philadelphia community and Chinatown residents.
The system we envisioned could have features that would answer the needs we had identified in the neighborhood: Users who didn’t know whom to contact to report issues could simply submit reports to the system.
• Social media systems have become very popular in China, so it would be a familiar medium for many new immigrants in the community.46
• Users who didn’t want to reveal their identity or citizenship status could report anonymously.
• Users could subscribe to alerts about certain categories of reports.
• Young professionals willing to help out could be recruited as translators, giving them a chance to use their language abilities in a context with less pressure than conversations. • Seeing the collection of comments could help all users understand similarities they have with residents of Chinatown, creating a sense of community, and also give the neighborhood a way to examine itself and see patterns of behavior that might be troublesome.
• Young professional volunteers could also be recruited to categorize and respond to reports, putting them in a position to identify patterns of recurring issues that are not being addressed, and start movements using their contacts, Social Capital, and knowledge of American society. • Outside viewers would have a way to understand the dynamics at work in Chinatown. 99
Collaboration is Changing Our World Besides allowing for new levels of social connection, the internet has created an environment where collaboration and giving feedback is so easy it has been harnessed to allow users to contribute meaningfully to building major projects. Such projects include the Linux operating system or coverage of breaking news in the London train bombings, the earthquake in the Sichuan province of China, and the recent tsunami in Japan.47 This new environment has been called a bazaar-type of work place, where lots of people can collaborate and offer opinions, rather than the cathedral-type, which needs immense resources and experts to do the same work, and often offers limited options.48 One special aspect of this model is its reliance on an architecture that allows for participation, facilitating sharing and collaboration.49 The most obvious form of this architecture is the creation of software modules that can be plugged in to an existing framework, which is the format of such products as the open source content management system Drupal.
Tim Oâ€™Reilly, founder of Oâ€™Reilly Media and publisher of many software how-to books has begun to advocate for using these principles to reform government in a movement called Gov 2.0. He encourages government to redefine its relationship to constituents, to use technology to mobilize movements to solve problems that are too big for individuals to solve; a fundamental role of government.50 The social media system we developed would make Chinatown an open source project, an experiment in using social media to help residents communicate and potentially govern themselves. With the ability to report issues, propose solutions, publicize events and visualize clusters of data, the community would have a new way to relate to itself. This is a new concept utilizing software that has been available for less than five years, but there are a multitude of projects with similar goals that we drew on for inspiration.
(Photo courtesy of lavozweb.com)
(Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
Social media was key in the response to Japanâ€™s recent tsunami and Egyptâ€™s revolution.
Can Open Data Open Minds? A new project sprouting from the Gov 2.0 movement is called Code for America, funded by the Knight Foundation, Google, the Rockefeller Foundation, Microsoft and many others. The mission behind Code for America is “all about helping American cities use web technology to do a better job of providing services to citizens.” The first group of fellows participating in this project are currently working to develop applications for cities across the country. Philadelphia was chosen as one of the cities selected to be a focus for the 2011 initiative, so there were several fellows in the city during our project timeframe that we interacted with on several occasions. Through their outreach we participated in events where citizens were asked to help think up useful applications for the fellows to build. We also attended a day-long “hackathon” at Azavea, a software development
company in Philadelphia. A hackathon is a term used by software coders and developers to describe a day when they put their heads together to achieve major goals in a project. Although we didn’t have many programming skills, the event organizers were quick to say that we could help with envisioning potential applications, researching information that was available, and testing what was developed. The results of this hackathon can be seen online at www.phillydatacamp.com. From these interactions we got a sense of the amazing movement to make government more transparent and accessible, but that transition from old ways of thinking that hinder the sharing of knowledge to full transparency has such a long way to go. For the general public, the idea of the government or any other entity sharing the breadth of information needed for this kind of work; the good, the bad, and the ugly, is nearly unfathomable. Rather than just getting access to the data, which can be tricky on it’s own, the major challenge for this initiative will likely be in addressing the public preconception that providing more information risks bad publicity, and requires major resources to be put to good use.
Fu Chi team joins the day-long “hackathon” at Philly Data Camp.
11 (Screenshot: giveaminute.info)
Most of the systems we were inspired by are platforms that encourage community participation in identifying and solving urban issues. Among these, Ushahidi, SeeClickFix and Everyblock are examples of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) that plot reports on a map. Since its development in the 1980’s GIS has been touted as a revolutionary step forward in geographical analysis, providing a benefit similar to that of the microscope in the field of biological analysis.52 All of these systems have benefits and drawbacks that we used to evaluate them and replicate in our own design.
Ushahidi, is an open source crisis-management platform that collects emails, tweets, text messages, and photos and plots them geographically in real time. Ushahidi, meaning “testify” in Swahili, was created in Kenya in 2009 to help citizens cover violence and peaceful protests after a disputed election that prompted the government to institute a media blackout. The Ushahidi system has been deployed in over 11,000 instances,53 notably to aid in the aftermath of Haiti’s earthquake in 2010. In that case Ushahidi provided a benefit as the only map aggregator collecting and displaying information. However, subsequent analysis identified barriers in use of the information from data overload and low awareness and understanding among the humanitarian community of how to use crowdsourced information.54 These issues have been replicated in other deployments of the software, 106
prompting the Ushahidi organization to identify local campaigns and volunteer training to be among the key factors in successful implementation.55 One instance of Ushahidi we found particularly inspiring was the case of EveryMap, a deployment in Australia meant to tap into the inherent knowledge of communities that has been lost when many communities outsourced information-gathering to media organizations. The organizers say they want to combat whining, apathy, and disconnection wrought by disengagement by allowing residents to report issues because, “we know that there is power in transparent and recorded collaboration.” Since launching in December 2010 a number of local politicians have signed up to receive reports from the site, which range from cultural events, pothole reports, and lost and found.56
(Screenshot: everymap.com.au) Everymap in Australia is an inspiring Ushahidi deployment.
SeeClickFix (developed in 2008) registers reports of issues such as potholes or broken street lights via a smart phone application and has been recognized as an innovative system integrating social media and civic involvement.57 At this time no formal analysis has been made of the aspects leading to its successful deployment or usage by municipal governments. SeeClickFix is available in Philadelphia, but we didn’t know of anyone who uses it, the reports submitted are infrequent, and it doesn’t appear to be publicized. Developer/co-founder Ben Berkowitz has noted that for his hometown of New Haven CT “The more awareness there is of the site, the more people pay attention to it.58”
Everyblock (developed in 2007) is a similar program aimed to provide micro-level news and reports for cities, plotting public crime, health inspections, comments, and news reports on a map. Though it was recently bought by MSNBC.com, site traffic is low and the developers admit that its “current incarnation is only about 5 percent of what we want to do with it. ” The low adoption rates and users for both of these systems underline the necessity of a large-scale campaign, to which Give a Minute provides a useful counterpoint.
Launched in Chicago, The Give a Minute project solicits suggestions from residents about how to alleviate urban problems, letting citizens come up with potential solutions rather than just report complaints. The project was developed to create a useful civic dialogue that would propose a compelling future for residents. With carefully crafted questions, partnership with local authorities, numerous ads, and social media integration, the campaign ran from late November to late December 2010 and received over 2,000 responses.60 However, subsequent plans for the feedback simply consist of asking the local leaders to consider it in decision-making, though the creators recognize the need for a more robust strategy to implement suggestions.61 108
(Photo courtesy of localproject.net)
Lastly, the Speakeasy project of Boston was designed to provide a free phone connection for Chinese-speakers to a volunteer translator to help the caller negotiate interactions with English-only speakers.62 This project was developed in 2004, tested with 200 participants and 60 volunteer guides recruited from the local social organizationâ€™s English classes.63 Users reported great satisfaction with the service, and plans were made to launch a larger project in the following year with seed money from ATT Wireless,64 though we were unable to find further reports of the progress of the program or its impact.
Though only one of these systems was designed for an immigrant community, we found research that differences in immigrant communities, including language barriers and documentation issues are not insurmountable barriers to civic engagement. If a civic institution is committed to an immigrant community, then the members of that community will participate in a civic forum.65
Fu Chi Philly
Creating a Feedback Loop When we came up with the concept to create a social media system for Chinatown we expected to integrate several pieces of technology we already knew about, perhaps making a mash-up of texting, flickr photo tags, and Google maps. Through our research we were introduced to the open source software Ushahidi, one of our inspirational resources, which we decided to use to create our system because of the range of languages it offered and its customization options. Ushahidi is meant to provide updates in near-real time, which is essential for crisis situations. In our case the need for translation of the reports (which must be done manually) would prevent the data from being used in real time, but the software would help us collect reports, categorize, and translate them so that anyone concerned with Chinatown could read them. Over the long term this would create a feedback loop between residents, neighborhood leaders, and city government that could start to improve conditions in the neighborhood. We created several scenarios to describe how different users would experience the system.
Chinatown users send in reports or responses to the system.
Decisions and actions made based on usersâ€™ reports or responses.
Fu Chi Philly
Volunteers approve and translate reports to be posted. Once a report is submitted, it is not public until an administrator approves it. To fulfill this role, volunteers would be recruited to categorize and translate reports. Though automatic translation services have made major gains in translating English and Romance languages, translation to Chinese (through a service such as Google translate) still yields poor results. Crowd-sourcing volunteers to translate in this way has been used successfully in translating Facebook pages, online videos and news.66 We planned the launch of the second phase of our project to include a campaign to recruit and train volunteers for this task.
PCDC or other organizations can monitor reports or create polls for users to respond.
Future Chinatown: Fu Chi 114
Fu Chi Philly
Designing Functionality There are several important features of the Ushahidi platform we are using in our system. An important feature is the ability to toggle the main pages between English and Chinese. At the time of this writing the site is only available in simplified Chinese, but there is the option to create style sheets with traditional Chinese for the main site infrastructure. The map of reports is a prominent feature of Ushahidi, giving the viewer an immediate grasp of the quantity of reports and their distribution in space. Reports can be color-coded with categories to make it easy to see where and what residents are reporting the most. We created the reports to capture problems that residents mentioned, but also incorporated suggestions from the leaders in the workshop, as well as including a category called “I love Chinatown” to document positive aspects in the neighborhood. Users have the ability to submit reports on the website that are more detailed than text messages. A timeline below the map shows the frequency of reports over time, corresponding to the date. Our site includes other information; a blog about our progress, a page with the graphs and charts we made to explain the demographics of Chinatown, and some background information.
The second phase of our project would incorporate other features such as an SMS shortcode that could spell the word “Fu Chi,” providing an easy way to remember how to text reports, rather using a complete phone number. The option to submit reports via voicemail that could be transcribed automatically to text and posted with other reports is an additional feature we would like to add in this phase. This would be much easier for residents who prefer speaking on the phone rather than texting or going online.
How to Report: 1.775.237.4407 firstname.lastname@example.org #phillyfuchi futurechinatown.com/ushahidi
Who Would Use Fu Chi? The following narrative outlines how a potential user would submit a report to Fu Chi. As Michael closes his store in Chinatown he notices a bus idling outside, waiting for Convention Center visitors. He is frustrated that in the morning his store will be full of fumes, deterring customers. He remembers the Fu Chi system that a few students told him about when they stopped by his store, and pulls out the information card they left. Though he knows that a response won’t be immediate, he sends a quick text to the number listed on the card with the message “bus idling outside 122 10th Street” as a way to alleviate his frustration. The next day a Fu Chi volunteer sees the report, translates it and publicizes it. After receiving several more reports, a Fu Chi volunteer brings a summary to the next Town Watch meeting and asks them to work with police on ticketing offenders. As more reports accumulate the Town Watch and PCDC take steps to find alternate parking for buses.
Fu Chi Philly
How Could Fu Chi Help Chinatown? The Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation wants to create a night market to drive tourism after normal business hours, and provide a gathering place for residents. To test the idea with residents PCDC creates a category on the Fu Chi website to act as a poll, asking, â€œWhat do you think about a night market in Chinatown?â€? After posting flyers with the question and telling people about the poll at community events, PCDC tracks responses over several weeks. At the end of this time frame, Fu Chi shows a majority of positive responses and some critical questions. PCDC feels it has the mandate to fundraise to cover additional permit fees and has prepared responses and ways to negotiate potential complaints and criticism.
(Photo courtesy of johnharveyphoto.com)
Chinatown Clean Up
A Tool to Measure Progress We had a great opportunity to do a public test of our system with Philadelphiaâ€™s city-wide Clean Up Day on April 2, 2011. PCDC had organized a major effort to get volunteers to help out on this Saturday morning, providing breakfast, gloves and bags, and systematic plan to assign teams to tackle different sections of the neighborhood. Beginning at 9 AM the volunteers met at the pavilion on 10th and Vine streets. Many of them were high school students fulfilling community service requirements, a perfect group of users who would be comfortable texting that could test our system. With approval from PCDC we passed out slips of paper among volunteers and asked them to text reports to our system, with the number of bags and the location where they were collected. We contributed to the clean up too, helping direct some teams, and reminding them to send reports. After working for several hours everyone went to the local restaurant Joy Tsin Lau, whose owner Mabel Chan had generously provided lunch for all volunteers. 120
From this test we were able to estimate the amount of trash picked up by volunteers by counting reports, which came out to over 187 bags, an impressive feat that would have been much harder to quantify otherwise. This demonstrated the benefit of our system, and the reports also showed where the most bags were collected, providing a starting point to track future trash problems. We learned from this test that our slips of paper didnâ€™t provide enough incentive for users to submit reports. There were only a handful of reports that came in voluntarily, we prompted the volunteers to submit the others or submitted ourselves. This test was useful for us to demonstrate the potential of our system, but to also understand how much more thought we needed to devote to communicating the benefit of submitting reports, or incentivizing that action somehow.
Chinatown Clean Up
Conclusion The constraints of the semester put a finite limit on our project timeline. As we complete this writing, conditions and dynamics of the community are mostly unchanged. Although we do think that the outcome of our workshop and the subsequent report and dispersing this book could have positive ripple effects, our efforts have not yielded much change so far in the ways we had hoped. In the midst of our project we learned that trying to shift an immigrant community of this nature (which first involves gaining its trust) has a baseline timeframe of at least 24 months. If we had known this statistic before starting, we may not have attempted to address this problem. In some circles, design may have a reputation for starting projects and not finishing them. Though this may be true, we think the work we have done is valuable, and even if we are unable to continue the project, we are proud of the work we’ve done. Using design for community-organizing is a relatively new concept. Though we don’t believe we could ever attempt to do the work of community organizers, activists, or social workers, we can use our design skills to make issues easier to understand and improve communication. Our three interventions each accomplish this in some way.
The reality of working on projects of this nature is that they are messy and frustrating. For a time we experienced relatively few setbacks along our trajectory, which we thought was remarkable. It wasn’t until we hit some serious setbacks, including our realization of the need to rebrand our project, that we realized that road bumps are to be expected. Experiencing them indicates you are doing something right; getting meaningful feedback and responding to it, not doing something wrong. If we could have done anything differently we would have tried harder to recruit an advisor who was an insider in the community. This would have helped immensely in making contacts and gathering people. Though we asked many of the leaders we met to be an advisor, the responses we received were either apologetic to nonexistent. This isn’t surprising among the busy leaders of the community, but at the time of this writing the benefit of such an advisor seems worth putting in extra effort. We were pleased to have a paper on Fu Chi accepted at the first workshop of Pervasive Urban Applications
Interventionsâ€™ Impact Level
Outside Tech Community
(PURBA) organized by MIT in conjunction with the 9th annual Pervasive Computing Conference. We have enthusiastically accepted the opportunity to publish the paper and present the project at the workshop in June of 2011. We also submitted Fu Chi as a case study to the website mobileactive.org, a database of social projects using mobile technology. Because our project and system could be implemented in almost any Chinatown in the United States, or modified for other communities where communication and trust is low, we hope it could serve as an example for other activists. The information we submitted about our project was one of the few based in North America, another indicator that it could be a resource and inspiration. Through the course of the project we struggled to find ways to communicate the potential of our interventions
to the stakeholders and leaders of the community. We found that as we became well-versed in the potential of technology and design to revolutionize communication, and we researched numerous examples of other communities using similar systems, it was hard for many of the people we were working with to understand what we were talking about. A major lesson for us and others taking on similar projects is to devote time and effort to explain the utility and potential impact in terms the stakeholders understand. We confronted the same doubt the Gov 2.0 movement is facing, where stakeholders only see the time investment for translation, publicizing the system, and changing existing procedures. Being designers, part of our role is to imagine possibilities, but we think we could have done more to communicate the potential of internet technology and the practices of existing open source communities to help our stakeholders understand that the change we were proposing was more attainable than they expected.
We underestimated how much thought we would need to explain the concepts and benefits of our system to participants in terms they can understand.
A presence in Chinatown would draw more attention and trust from the residents.
Phase II Bringing the project to this point was rewarding, but most of what we’ve done is plan, not implement change. The point of a project of this sort is to see what change individuals can actually accomplish, which is what we want as well.
Support from grants we have applied for would allow us to implement the second phase of our project, including: • Designing and printing promotional posters, stickers, and informational cards to distribute to leaders and residents to encourage submission of reports. • Recruitment and training of volunteers to categorize and translate reports. • Endorsements from local businesses that we can publicize on our website, to show additional funders that we have created a movement with the support of the neighborhood that has the potential to make a significant positive impact.
• Secure a storefront or sidewalk space to serve as an “information center” for Chinatown, where questions could be answered, people could tell us stories about their experiences in the neighborhood, and we could teach them how to enter reports. • Procure an easy-to-remember SMS shortcode to send reports rather than a complete phone number. • Procure additional voice features so residents that are uncomfortable or unfamiliar with texting can leave voice messages.
Glossary beta test: a field test of the beta version of a product (such as software) especially by testers outside the company developing it that is conducted prior to commercial release.1 blog: a website that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer.2 brand: a name that is given by a manufacturer or merchant to an article or service to distinguish it that may be used and protected as a trademark.3 civic engagement: individual and collective actions designed to identify and address issues of public concern.4
collective efficacy: mutual trust among neighbors combined with their willingness to intervene on behalf for the common good.5 crisis-management: the process by which an organization deals with a major event that threatens to harm the organization, its stakeholders, or the general public with little time for decision-making.6 crowdsourcing: the act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, to an undefined, large group of people or community (a “crowd”), through an open call.7
1 “Definition of beta test” Merriam-Webster Online. Accessed May 13, 2011. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/betatest> 2 “Definition of blog” Merriam-Webster Online. Accessed May 13, 2011. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/blog> 3 “Definition of brand” Merriam-Webster Online. Accessed May 13, 2011. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/brand> 4 “Civic engagement” American Psychological Association. <http://www.apa.org/education/undergrad/civic-engagement.aspx> Retrieved May 13 2011. 5 Earls, F., Raudenbush, S. Sampson, R. “Neighborhoods and Violent Crime: A Multilevel Study of Collective Efficacy.” Science. Vol. 277. August 15, 1997. 6 Seeger, M. W.; Sellnow, T. L., & Ulmer, R. R. “Communication, organization and crisis.” Communication Yearbook 21: 231–275. 1998. 7 Jeff Howe “The Rise of Crowdsourcing”. Wired. June 2006. http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.06/crowds.html Retrieved May 13, 2011.
dialect: a regional variety of language distinguished by features of vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation from other regional varieties that together constitute a single language.8 enclave: a distinct territorial, cultural, or social unit enclosed within or as if within foreign territory.9 flickr: a website that helps users store, search, tag, and share photos. geographic information system (GIS): A general term for computer-assisted systems for the capture, storage, retrieval, analysis, and display of spatial data, or general automated geographic data processing.10
ghetto: a quarter of a city in which members of a minority group live especially because of social, legal, or economic pressure.11 Google maps: a web-mapping service provided free by the company Google for non-commercial uses that powers many map-based applications. Gov 2.0: an industry term to define a group of technologies and web-based e-government solutions similar to the Web 2.0 emphasis on interactive information sharing, interoperability, user-centered design, and collaboration.12 Human-Centered Design: a process in which the needs, wants, and limitations of end users of a product are given extensive attention at each stage of the design process.13
8 “Definition of Dialect” Merriam-Webster Online. Accessed March 31, 2011. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dialect> 9 “Definition of enclave” Merriam-Webster Online. Accessed May 13, 2011. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/enclave> 10 David Cowen “GIS versus CAD versus DBMS: What Are the Differences?” Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing 54 (1988): 1551-1555. 11 “Definition of ghetto” Merriam-Webster Online. Accessed May 13, 2011. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ghetto> 12 Michael Riedyk “Gov 2.0: What Does it Mean, Really?” March 3, 2011. <dotgov http://dotgov.com/2010/03/gov-2-0-what-does-itmean-really/> Accessed May 13, 2011. 13 Suneet Kheterpal. “Pervasive Usability – Planning for an Uncertain Future.” Jan 2003. http://blogs.sitepoint.com/planning-uncertainfuture/ Accessed May 13, 2011.
map aggregator: a system that gathers information from multiple online sources and displays it on a map.14 mobile telephone: an electronic device used to make mobile telephone calls across a wide geographic area, allowing the user to be mobile.15
SMS shortcode: A 5 or 6 digit number, just like a phone number, but shorter and easier to remember, accessible via text or short message service (SMS).18
social cohesion: a reduction of disparities, inequalities and social exclusion, and strengthens social relations, interactions and ties among members of different open source: a term to describe practices in production ethnicities in a community. 19 and development that promote access to an end product’s source materials. The term originated in software stakeholder: one who is involved in or affected by a development and its application to other industries is course of action.20 16 growing. Twitter: a social networking service that allows users to prototype: a first full-scale and usually functional form submit and share 140 character messages via text message of a new type or design of a construction.17 or online.21
14 “Aggregator” Wikipedia. Modified April 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aggregator> Accessed May 13, 2011. 15 “Mobile telephone” Wikipedia. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_telephone> Accessed May 13, 2011. 16 “Open source” Wikipedia. < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_source > Accessed May 13, 2011. 17 “Definition of Prototype” Merriam-Webster Online. Accessed May 13, 2011. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prototype> 18 “SMS Short Code.” Involve Mobile. http://www.involvemobile.com/sms-short-code Accessed May 13, 2011. 19 Qadeer, Mohammad and Sandeep Kumar, 2006, ‘Ethnic Enclaves and Social Cohesion’, Canadian Journal of Urban Research, 15.2, 1–17. 20 “Definition of Stakeholder” Merriam-Webster Online. Accessed March 31, 2011. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/stakeholder> 21 Twitter.com
Works Cited 1 “Human Centered Design Toolkit”. IDEO <http://www.ideo.com/work/humancentered-design-toolkit/> Accessed Feb 18 2011. 2 Saffron, Inga “Next Round for the Roundhouse.” Changing Skyline Online Blog. Dec 24, 2008. Accessed March 31, 2011. <http://changingskyline.blogspot. com/2008/12/next-round-for-roundhouse. html>
6 Dubberly, Hugh and Rith, Chanpory. “Why Horst Rittel Matters.” Design Issues. Volume 23, Number 1 Winter 2007, Pg 73.
13 Chang, Kuo-Wei “Restoration and Design Project for Philadlephia Chinatown” (Master thesis, University of Pennsylvania, 1991).
7 “Differences Between Mandarin and Cantonese” Learning Chinese Mandarin and Cantonese. September 23rd, 2003. Accessed March 31, 2011. ,<http://khuang.com/chinese/dif.htm>
14 Bock, Deborah Lyn. “The Historical Function of Chinatown and its Application to Philadelphia.” Thesis. University of Pennsylvania, 1976.
8 “Definition of Dialect” Merriam-Webster Online. Accessed March 31, 2011. <http:// 3 Wilton, Kris. “I Wanna Know, What’s Up www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ with the Roundhouse?” Philly Weekly Online. dialect> September 24, 2003. Accessed March 31, 2011. <http://www.philadelphiaweekly. 9 Akmajian, A., Demers, R., Farmer, A., com/news-and-opinion/i_wanna_knowHarnish, R. Linguistics: an introduction to 38370929.html> language and communication. United States: MIT, 2001. 4 Saffron, Inga “Next Round for the Roundhouse.” Changing Skyline Online 10 Matthews, Stephen and Yip, Virginia.CanBlog. Dec 24, 2008. Accessed March 31, tonese: a comprehensive grammar. 2011. <http://changingskyline.blogspot. London: Routledge, 1994. com/2008/12/next-round-for-roundhouse. html> 11 “Friendship Gate in Chinatown” The Philadelphia Inquirer. <http://www.philly. 5 Wilton, Kris. “I Wanna Know, What’s Up com/inquirer/multimedia/7494202.html> with the Roundhouse?” Philly Weekly Online. Accessed on June 1, 2009. September 24, 2003. Accessed March 31, 12 “Differences Between Mandarin and 2011. <http://www.philadelphiaweekly. Cantonese” Learning Chinese Mandarin and com/news-and-opinion/i_wanna_knowCantonese. September 23rd, 2003. Accessed 38370929.html> March 31, 2011 <http://khuang.com/chinese/dif.htm>
15 Aubitz, Shawn. “Chinese Immigration to Philadelphia.” Philadephia, PA: National Archives, Philadelphia Branch, 1988. 16 Ibid 17 Guan, J. “Ethnic Consciousness Arises on facing spatial threats to Philadelphia Chinatown” in Urban Ethnic Encounters: The Spatial Consequences ed. Aygen Erdentug and Freek Colombijn 126- 142. New York: Routledge, 2002. 18 Chang, Kuo-Wei. “Restoration and Design Project for Philadlephia Chinatown” (Master thesis, University of Pennsylvania, 1991). 19 Guan, J. “Ethnic Consciousness Arises on facing spatial threats to Philadelphia Chinatown” in Urban Ethnic Encounters: The Spatial Consequences ed. Aygen Erdentug and Freek Colombijn 126- 142. New York: Routledge, 2002. 135
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