Design for Everyday Social Good
Design for Everyday Social Good: Foster Inclusion and Reciprocity - Autumn 2014 Stanford d.school
America is “alone together.” Amid the torrent of digital technologies and social media, feelings of isolation have grown increasingly acute. As we go through our daily motions in the public sphere, are there ways to connect with strangers and acquaintances passing us by and create more social good?
From dialogue to reciprocal giving, this class explores real-world human exchanges and how they can lead to social connection. Budding designers will generate and test ideas for products, services, or experiences that foster a sense of reciprocity, belonging, and mutual exchange, in the spirit of the Greek definition of “philanthropy”: to love humanity and promote human welfare.
These designs can be implemented in a range of settings: for tenants sharing the same dormitory or dining hall, passengers riding the same train, or pedestrians standing on a street corner. In this class, we will pilot ideas for increased human interaction in a place that can feel at once familiar and distant: here on the Farm.
Participants will gain a more artful understanding of types of human connections, while practicing rapid prototyping skills to build and test methods of promoting generous exchange. Starting with small exchanges, we can enrich each other’s lives in a multitude of positive ways. By building stronger channels for unexpected connections every day, we uncover new internal resources, expand our reservoirs of goodwill, and contribute to the building of community.
Teaching Team: Deland Chan, Glenn Fajardo, Kevin Hsu
Communities at Play
Parks, Plazas, Pubic Spaces: Designing for Communities at Play - Spring 2014 Stanford d.school
Public spaces are more than just physical sites for individuals to obtain fresh air and sunlight. Spaces that invite “play” encourage people from all walks of life to gather, interact, and create shared understanding. Such behavior fosters social trust and contributes to stronger, more resilient communities.
In this workshop, we examine how different social groups define “play” and engage their surroundings. Using the context of cities and urban life, the workshop’s activities include an introduction to human-centered design, the typologies of public space, theories of urban adaptation, and a team project involving hands-on fieldwork and empathy-building exercises.
Teams will collect instances of spatial appropriation for play; identify factors (social, demographic, environmental, architectural, and aesthetic) that facilitate these activities; and propose interventions that enhance existing spaces, or offer new ways for citizens to play and recreate.
Teaching Team: Deland Chan, Kevin Hsu, Caroline Chen, Angelina Yu
Chinatown Urban Institute
After completing my graduate studies in City & Regional Planning at UC Berkeley, I was eager to enter the real world and find new ways to teach urban planning in a way that resonates with local communities. I believed that we needed to develop new curriculum and ways to engage the next generation of urban planners and community advocates. From this, the idea for the Chinatown Urban Institute was born.
The Chinatown Urban Institute is a youth empowerment and professional development program offered by the Chinatown Community Development Center in San Francisco. Its mission is to educate and empower young leaders ages 18-24 to understand and take action on urban planning issues, using the City as a living and breathing laboratory for knowledge. Through an inquiry-based approach, Urban Fellows learn the history, technical skills, and pragmatic applications of the planning profession as a tool for social justice and advocacy. Biweekly sessions feature seminars, walking (or bike) tours, and interactive fieldwork components to give the participants hands-on experience in grassroots community planning.
Since its inception five years ago, the program now has over 60 alumni. Past Fellows have gone on to pursue graduate cities in city planning or related field, or they have found full-time employment in the public, non-profit, and private sector with a focus on community development.
Human City: Design With People
HUMAN CITY: DESIGN WITH PEOPLE
A Joint Workshop between Stanford University and Tsinghua University: The twenty-first century represents a critical moment in the sustainable development of cities, offering immense opportunities and daunting challenges. In September 2014, I led a dozen Stanford students to Beijing, along with my co-instructor Kevin Hsu, to participate in "The Human City: Design for People" workshop with students from China’s premier university, Tsinghua University. We created and executed the curriculum in collaboration with Zhiyong Fu of Tsinghua University.
Funded through the Stanford Revs Program, Haas Center for Public Service, and the Program on Urban Studies, the goal of the workshop was to bring together an interdisciplinary group of students to explore a holistic understanding of the city as the nexus of the environment, built infrastructure, and human communities. Two dozen participants from Stanford and Tsinghua hailed from a wide range of backgrounds, including urban studies, information art and design, international relations, computer science, and civil and environmental engineering.
Multinational teams made use of Beijing as an urban laboratory to enhance sustainability and improve residents’ quality of life. Projects investigated issues such as food systems, residential energy use, transportation and bicycle livelihoods, and the pairing of land use with local amenities.
During the workshop, the cohort of budding urban thinkers met with local and international sustainability experts; visited numerous neighborhoods on foot, on bike, and by public transit; and interacted with people in Beijing to understand their life circumstances. They honed their observation skills, employing strategies pioneered by urban sociologist William Whyte, and architect and urban designer Jan Gehl, to decipher city life. The workshop participants also applied design thinking, such as need-finding and empathy mapping, all customized for the local Beijing context.
Many of the students will continue on to a 10-week collaborative course, the International Urbanization Seminar, where urban sustainability projects will be developed with community partner organizations based in Beijing.
By refocusing the discussion of urbanization through the lens of “the human city” and connecting creative urban thinkers and actors, we aim to shift the discourse of sustainable development toward a human-centered approach that draws upon both the wisdom of the past, as well as modern science, and that prioritizes human beings, communities, and their relationship with the environment.
Human City workshop participants exhibited their work at the Smart City Expo, part of Beijing Design Week, which bills itself as China's biggest design event) from September 25-30, hosted at the China Millennium Monument Museum of Digital Arts. The exhibit will travel to Stanford University and be part of the Urban Sustainability Expo and Design Showcase in December 2014.
Chinatown Broadway Street Design
As a Senior Planner for the Chinatown Community Development Center, I served as the main project lead and transportation planner on behalf of CCDC for the Chinatown Broadway Street Design project. The Chinatown Broadway Street Design project was funded by a $250,000 Caltrans Environmental Justice planning grant and involved a joint partnership with the San Francisco Planning Department, San Francisco Department of Public Works, and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. The goal was to develop a community-based vision to improve pedestrian conditions along Broadway from Columbus Avenue to the Broadway Tunnel in downtown San Francisco. I wrote and executed the public engagement strategy, coordinated translation of all outreach, workshop, and presentation materials, organized and led community meetings in which we translated complex planning terms and gathered feedback from a monolingual Cantonese-speaking population, conducted one-on-one merchant interviews and focus groups, and worked with the San Francisco Planning Department to host the community outreach workshops. I documented public input to inform the community plan and contributed significant writing to the production of the final report. As a result of our efforts , the plan was unanimously supported by a wide range of community stakeholders and received $7M in funding for capital improvements.
Presentation at the American Planning Association National Conference, Los Angeles, April 15, 2012.
Chinatown Broadway Street Design Workshop (VIDEO)
Creative Tools for Urban Spaces
Creative Tools for Urban Space - Spring 2015 Stanford d.school
With growing adoption of digital fabrication tools, community maker spaces, and open access to civic data, the public realm has become a canvas for citizens’ imaginations. Forward-thinking cities around the world are beginning to harness the collective power of citizen-creators, including the use of “urban prototyping” to engage local communities and enliven public spaces.
In this workshop, we will tap into our ability to design with—and for—people in cities, starting with the fundamental skill of observation. We will familiarize ourselves with observation strategies for urban environments and discuss the larger ethic of “participatory design” and public engagement.
The course will kick-off with students visiting the Market Street Prototyping Festival [link: http://marketstreetprototyping.org] in San Francisco on April 10, 2015. After conducting observations at the Festival, we will next convene to synthesize our findings and try our hand at refining the set of design thinking tools we apply to urban spaces.
Teaching Team: Deland Chan, Kevin Hsu, Maryanna Rogers
Since 2012, I have been the primary instructor for the Sustainable Cities class, which is a service-learning course offered through Stanford University’s Program on Urban Studies. Students learn and work collaboratively with Bay Area government agencies and community organizations to support their sustainability goals. The class attracts a mix of undergraduate and graduate students from a multitude of disciplines, ranging from urban studies to civil and environmental engineering to law and public policy majors, all working to support community partners on meaningful fieldwork-based projects. For more information about the class, please visit: http://urbanst164.stanford.edu
Chinatown Pedestrian Safety Plan
Pedestrian safety is a major concern in San Francisco’s Chinatown, the densest residential neighborhood west of Manhattan, where most residents depend on public transportation and walking. Elderly and low- income residents and visitors face high rates of pedestrian-vehicle collisions, congestion, and air and noise pollution due to car-oriented street designs. The Chinatown Pedestrian Plan is a neighborhood level effort that examines obstacles to pedestrian safety and proposes design recommendations.
As a Senior Planner for the Chinatown Community Development Center (CCDC), I applied for a San Francisco Department of Public Health grant that enabled the planning team to create a Pedestrian Safety Needs Assessment and Plan for Chinatown to assess pedestrian conditions and offer design solutions that will ideally complement both enforcement and public education efforts. I was responsible for managing the project from conception to completion. I hired and manage staff to deliver a comprehensive collection of data that continues to serve as a guiding blueprint for capital improvements in the neighborhood nearly five years later. As a result of this work, several planning processes have been funded and are underway for the priority corridors. I also worked with exceptional staff who have gone on to exceptional work in communities as diverse as Honolulu, San Jose, and Los Angeles.
For more information, please see press coverage in SF Streetsblog.
Celebrating public space, walkable streets, pedestrian safety, and the city we love. The Bay Area Flash Mob dances down the "Crookedest Street in the World" to the song "Happy" by Pharrell Williams during city pilot program that created new opportunities for pedestrians and dancers to enjoy Lombard Street without cars during four weekends during the summer.
Press coverage in SF Streetsblog
Safe Routes to School
The Safe Walks to School project aimed to create a curriculum and series of workshops to encourage walking and bicycling among 5th graders attending Jean Parker Elementary School located in San Francisco's Chinatown. As the main project lead, my goal was to introduce the students to urban planning concepts so they could understand how and why transportation planners engineer streets and implement design changes to make the streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists. I was also interested in developing the leadership potential of young members of the Chinatown Transportation Research Improvement Project (TRIP), a 35-year old grassroots transportation advocacy group committed to improving transportation issues in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Two workshops were designed and led by TRIP members using a “train the trainer” model in which TRIP members were then able to build stronger relationships with one another and solidify their understanding of Chinatown transportation planning concepts in order to teach the younger participants.
Youth Bus Stop Survey
The Youth Bus Stop Survey aimed to create and execute a grassroots, neighborhood-led scorecard that collects important on-the-ground information about the quality of bus stops in Chinatown, such as rider amenities and surrounding community uses. I provided technical assistance to the Chinatown Community Development Center’s Youth for SRO group to survey all 34 bus stops in Chinatown. The motivated youth later produced a report that was presented to the SF Municipal Transportation Authority and given full consideration.
Press coverage in SF Streetsblog.
In 2006, I secured funding to study abroad at Peking University in Beijing and conducted research for my undergraduate honors thesis. I collaborated with a PKU graduate student to interview over 100 rural-to-urban migrant workers. My fondest memories of that time include riding on the back a bicycle while whizzing through Beijing traffic, convincing the security guards at various construction sites to allow me to enter the workplace and take photographs of the migrant workers' housing conditions, and experiencing firsthand a rapidly changing Beijing just before the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Undergraduate Honors Thesis: “How Migrant Workers Find Housing in Beijing: The role of individual agency in differential housing access and outcomes.” Stanford University, 2007. [Download thesis.]
In 2010, I returned to my hometown of New York City to explore the rapid demographic changes in the neighborhood, the Lower East Side. My ethnographic fieldwork led to the completion of my thesis submitted as part of the requirements for the Master in City Planning at UC Berkeley. This research paper explored the prospects of community organizing and mobilization in the Lower East Side and Chinatown after 9/11 through three themes: cultural amnesia and the eviction of memory, the fragmented enclave, and the militarization of the city.
Thesis/Professional Project: “Deja Vu Gentrification: Prospects of Community Organizing in New York City’s Lower East Side and Chinatown in the Post-9/11 Era.” UC Berkeley, 2009. [Download thesis.]