Springtime in KONO
This is the second blog post in a series reviewing our research efforts in the neighborhood. Be sure to check out Popuphood in KONO: Merchants Focus to get the lowdown merchants.
This past Spring, we compiled a report for KONO and continued our work on one important recommendation: connecting the residential community to KONO's mission and each other deep dive with the KONO community and an inventory and analysys of the resources and challenges for the future of their neighborhood. Sarah Filley of Popuphood co-created a class at California College of the Arts called Creative Disruptions with faculty Liz Ogbu, and together we partnered with students to apply "design thinking" and "creative engagement" strategies and gather community members' ideas for KONO's revitalization with our partners at Neighborland.
The students' goal was to gather the input of residents on the future of KONO in regard to incoming businesses as well as other amenities. We also hoped to discover the different perspectives on KONO: where it's been, where it is now, and where it's going. This was one of the more challenging goals of the project – residents are difficult to engage, and because the neighborhood is so diverse, sampling a few residents does not represent the wide variety of viewpoints found within the 15 block district.
The chart below shows the diversity of residents in KONO:
The students used a variety of methods to gather the opinions of residents in a three month deep dive, including scheduled interviews, on-the-street intercepts, group activities, and online networking. These methods allowed them to gather the kind of rich, qualitative data that surveys don't capture, and collect nuanced feedback about KONO that unearthed residents' concerns for the neighborhood, as well as their points of pride.
This image provides a glimpse of a few insights provided from the many encounters with residents.
#1 KONO residents are strongly interested in the future of the area. The common ground between the diverse residents of KONO is their desire to engage with and benefit from their local community. This image is from the final report of students and reflects some of the feelings of residents.
#2 Beliefs in the needs and future of KONO are disparate between groups. This wall of post-its shows just a sampling of the wide variety of ideas KONO residents have for their neighborhood! New residents desired resources of convenience, ranging from local banks to nail salons, while long-standing residents sought more immediate needs, such as affordable groceries and clothing. Both groups feel pride and ownership towards the area, and are united by their willingness to contribute. Some ideas below are: chicken coup building classes, places to shop local, coffee houses, and co-working spaces as well as a better police response time and a lack of green space.
#3 Certain pillars help establish and sustain the values and image of KONO.
Commonwealth, Rock Paper Scissors, Koreana Plaza, and Oasis Grocery all complement the Alta Bates Medical Center, as well as several churches and cultural centers as pillars of the community in the residents' eyes.
1. Better response rate: fun and engaging interviews draw people in more than surveys or town hall meetings.
2. Larger group of participants: includes people of all ages, languages, and educational backgrounds can participate, whereas they may be unlikely to take a survey or attend a town hall meeting.
3. People-focused interaction: observation of social and behavioral responses to the environment of activity lead to surprising insights into what people do rather than say.
4. Creative and engaging experiences: provides outreach and marketing opportunities for residents, increasing buy-in and investment in the neighborhoods success.
The image above is from the Creative Disruptions Exhibition held during First Friday in May, 2013 which allowed continuous input from the district and gallery attendees.
Our work in KONO was a great beginning and the residents appreciated being interviewed about the future of their neighborhood. Many of the residents hadn't yet heard of the KONO Community Benefits District or Popuphood, so this approach with the students participation was an opportunity to not only explain what we do here at Popuphood but also connected them to how to get involved with shaping KONO the future of their neighborhood.
This experience benefited participating CCA students, they were able to take what they're studying in school – abstract concepts like "urban innovation" and "social impact" – and apply them to the real world, interviewing real people in a real neighborhood.
Here at Popuphood, we are always thinking about how people use public space and what we can bring to the community that will really serve its residents. Our series will continue to explore our insights, recommendations, and upcoming events. Look out for post #3 in our continuing series on our research in KONO.