Since I have a very broad topic to work with, coming up with a plan for primary research seems a bit putting the cart before the horse. However, I have considered a few strategies in order to delve deeper into the needs of the community. I don’t have a specific solution yet to my problem of sustaining a healthy community, but I can do formative research to define what that really means.
The best way to approach this problem would be to focus in on one specific neighborhood or community, and what would be better than my own? There is a wealth of information in the residents and long-term local business owners of this area. The tactics of ethnographic research and marketing research would give me valuable information to inform my design decisions.
1. Visual Anthropology – I would spend a significant amount of time speaking with and photographing people in the community – being with people in real time.
2. Observational Research – focus in on the particular neighborhood, tracking popular and off-the-beaten-track traveling routes through the community.
3. Survey/Questionnaire – both of these would be useful research tactics. There are older residents in my building that have lived here for 30 years that would provide great information on what the community needs are. Also, the flower shop owner on 13th street, the Irving Place painter who sits every day and paints the landscape, the Gramercy Park animal hospital vets, and the owner of the local coffee shop are all sources of community information.
I could ask questions like:
What have you done in the past to connect with people in your neighborhood?
What do you feel is the most valuable part of your community?
To improve this community, what do you think would have the most impact?
How would you map your neighborhood?
What points would you describe on a map and why are they interesting to you?
How would you visually represent your community as a symbol, flag or otherwise?
How do you feel visitors view your community?
How would you prefer to have your community experienced by visitors?
What is something interesting about this community that you wouldn’t know unless you lived here for many years?