Editor’s Note: This post for the February ‘Openness Edition‘ comes from Jeff Hall, Elizabeth Gin and An Xiao Mina who discuss their project to facilitate personal storytelling by homeless youth from Jovenes, Inc. in Boyle Heights, a neighborhood in East Los Angeles. The team from the Media Design Practices/ Field Track program at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California had so much success with the timeline structure that they’re packaging it for future use at Jovenes, Inc. and releasing it under a Creative Commons license so others can try it out in the field. This kind of repurposing of ethnographic tools is exactly the kind of sharing that we get excited about at EM and we encourage others to share their own tools and work processes in similar ways.
Ethnography has a lot to offer design, as evidenced by the growing field of design and design-related research informed by the methods and practices of anthropology. Within this emerging interdisciplinary space, the design community and the anthropological community now have an opportunity to ask the question – “If anthropology has offered so much for design – what can design offer anthropology?”
We explored this question as part of our work with Jovenes, Inc., a center for homeless youth in Boyle Heights, a neighborhood in East Los Angeles. Our goal was to provide an opportunity for youth to tell their personal stories and experiences. These stories would assist the organization in learning more about its constituency and support applications for additional funding to improve its programming and services. We worked in the vein of Participatory Action Research, by Alice McIntyre, taking a collaborative approach to the design and storytelling process, ensuring that both the youths’ untapped creative abilities and our expertise and research were consistently utilized throughout the experience. Read More…