community development

Ethnography inside the Walls: Studying the Contested Space of the Cemetery

ANNIKA PORSBORG NIELSEN and LINE GROES This paper discusses the merits and challenges of user-centered urban development projects, and what it means to apply an ethnographic approach to the study of urban spaces and the way people use them. We draw primarily on an ethnographic project carried out in two cemeteries in Copenhagen. The project focused on the involvement of local citizens – both everyday users of the cemeteries, as well as locals who do not use these urban spaces. We discuss the challenges and opportunities of ethnography in a complex space such as a cemetery, and consider additional ways to incorporate citizens into projects that have a direct impact on their lives. We conclude with a discussion of the project learnings and their implications for future urban planning....

Community Centered Design: Evolving the Mission of the Creative Industry

JACQUELINE WALLACE Focusing on the mid-20th century, this paper explores the relationship between design and economics. Then, through the postwar emergence of user-centered design, it explores the positive and negative outcomes that this dominant approach has had on larger social relations, specifically asking: How are the motivations influencing user-centered design processes inherited by its products and their users? Using case studies and insights from design theorists, historians and practitioners, the paper calls for a new approach to industry lead design research and practices that evolves the question “how does this work for me?” to include “how does this work for us?”  ...

Scene and Unscene: Revealing the Value of the Local Music Scene in Savannah, Georgia

COLLEEN M. HEINE Throughout human history, music has been central to the fabric of society. Music is a powerful form of communication, it helps us relate to one another, make sense of the world, and commemorate moments together. Yet, music is often perceived as an extraneous element in a local economy (Markusen 2003), and the occupation “musician”—with the rare exceptions of those who achieve mainstream recognition—often conjures images of the starving artist or delinquent idler. What if the value of a local music scene could be made clear from an economic and cultural perspective? What is the value of a local music scene in establishing an identity of place? How can a city facilitate the conditions for a local music scene to exist and thrive? Although music plays a key role in a city’s creative and cultural life, a local music scene is too often overlooked as a driver for economic and community development. Through ethnographic research, this study uncovers the collective needs and vision for the future of the local music...

Role of the Ephemeral in Recovery and Renewal

AKI ISHIDA Installed during the Tohoku earthquake relief fundraising event, CONCERT FOR JAPAN, at Japan Society in New York City on April 2011, the Luminous Washi Lanterns was a meditation and celebration of renewal through light and impermanent materials. The paper examines the role of the ephemeral from the ancient to contemporary Japanese culture, collective experience during an ephemeral performance, and translation of traditional Japanese renewal rituals into a piece that engages a diverse range of people outside of Japan. How can designers instigate a process of renewal following a disaster in manners that engage people of all ages and backgrounds in a collective healing experience?...

Detroit is a Blank Slate: Metaphors in the Journalistic Discourse of Art and Entrepreneurship in the City of Detroit

SIOBHAN GREGORY This paper presents an investigation of metaphoric language in the contemporary discourse of Detroit’s “renewal.” News articles from local and national news sources from 2009-2011 provide evidence of critical and provocative metaphoric constructions found in the gentrification discourse of Detroit. As harbingers of gentrification, the discourse communities of artists and business entrepreneurs are the focus of this review. The author argues that metaphoric language in journalism must be critically evaluated and challenged to help ensure sustainable, equitable, and historically sensitive “renewal” of the city of Detroit and similar inner-city urban communities experiencing gentrification....

STAND Where You Live: Activating Civic Renewal by Socially Constructing Big Ethno

STOKES JONES, CHRISTINE Z. MILLER and BIJAN DHANANI This paper explains how STAND Chattanooga became the world’s largest community visioning process in 2009. Behind its public success, the authors relate the underlying ‘research story’ of how 26,263 viewpoints were achieved by changing course in midstream and adopting more ethnographic methods of survey collection. For an EPIC audience, we analyze STAND’s ultimately successful outcomes as a case of following the logic of ‘social fields’ (however unintentionally). The paper furthermore argues that STAND is a paradigm example of the way ethnographic principles can be deployed at various scales to accomplish goals (such as community renewal) outside the reach of most ‘Big Data’ analytics....

The Way to Design Ethnography for Public Service: Barriers and Approaches in Japanese Local Government

KUNIKAZU AMAGASA This paper introduces various barriers hindering the introduction of ethnography in support of public service design improvement in Japan, and discusses ways to overcome these barriers. Service design approaches using ethnography are gaining popularity in the public sector, especially in Europe. In Japan, however, local governments have adopted few or no ethnographic methods in order to improve public services. One of the most difficult barriers to the establishment of ethnographic approaches in Japan is the long-lasting relationships between citizens and local governments. Ethnographers engage in competition with citizens and are accused of bias, making it difficult for local governments to conduct ethnographic research freely and understand their citizens in depth. In order to overcome these barriers, this paper proposes three approaches about introducing areas, research protocols and organizations....

Maru: An ethnographic approach to revive local communities

FUMIKO ICHIKAWA and HIROSHI TAMURA How would Japan's rural communities renew oneself when the nation's economy no longer holds the absolute financial and technological powers in the global sphere? Through our post-3.11 recovery effort in local communities of Kesennuma, Japan, we discuss - a gap between the perceptions of Japan's rise from the 1950s and how in fact rural economies, such as the one in Kesennuma, have lost independency through its process. This paper seeks to capture the power of Maru, an inter-local activity, seeking an alternative to the conventional model of development based on the economy of capitalism, and how ethnography and design would play a central role in the success of community revival....