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Research: 6 weeks, Spring 2018

Proposal: 2 weeks, Fall 2019


Sherrie Guan, Anchi Hsin


Conduct research in the Potrero Hill neighborhood for The Neighbor Project to identify the problems and lead to possible solutions to enhance the community engagement among the community members.

Project Partners

CCA ENGAGE, The Neighbor Project


Google Docs, Adobe CC, Sketch


Teamwork: Primary and Secondary Research, Note-taking, Conducting Surveys and Interviews, Insights Analysis

Individual: Ideation, System Mapping


Delivered Research Insight Poster

Research Objective

At the beginning of the project, we were assigned to groups based on who we were interested in talking to in terms of community engagement. We all chose Mandarin-speaking people because all three of us are Chinese so that we could easily communicate in another language and relate to interviewees' experience.

We seek to understand the experience of Mandarin speakers who are not fluent in English and live in the northern half of the 94107 zip code area. We want to know the struggles they have with communicating with others and engaging in the community with those who do not speak Mandarin.

We would love to know how might we lessen the language barrier for linguistically isolated Mandarin speakers so that they are more involved in the community in Potrero? What communities or groups do they participate in? How often do they communicate with neighbors or participate in events? Do they want to / are they able to learn English to be more involved in the community?

Research Plan

9 in-person interviews: 3 experts who are working at a community center, 6 Mandarin-speaking residents who are not fluent in English.

Survey: we put together a survey for Mandarin speakers living in Potrero Hill about their backgrounds, life in Potrero, language issues, and community engagement in both simplified and traditional Chinese. Afterward, we made a poster to gather survey responses and recruit interviewees. for Mandarin speakers living in Potrero Hill about their backgrounds, life in Potrero, language, community engagement of Secondary Research. 

Secondary Research on the information about the Potrero Hill neighborhood and Mandarin Speaking group from previous professional studies.


After some secondary research, we found out that among the Chinese-speaking population in Potrero Hill, 57% of them have been reported "very well" at English speaking level, outweighs the 36% among San Francisco. Besides, only 12% of Potrero Hill residents are Chinese, which means 5.16% or less (considering Cantonese) of Potrero Hill residents speak Mandarin and are linguistically-isolated. We wonder whether that would make the research hard to execute. (reference: https://statisticalatlas.com/neighborhood/California/San-Francisco/Potrero-Hill/Languages)

A few days after we put up our posters, we found out that we only had gotten 2 responses. We decided to go to Costco where Chinese families usually shop at and talked to a few Mandarin speakers. However, they actually came from other districts, even Daly City. No wonder we had a hard time recruiting people -- the people we should talk to don't live in Potrero Hill, or 94107 area. 

We did a few trials: we went to Mission Creek Day Care center, interviewed an old Taiwanese lady who worked there and they referred us to Mabini Day Care Center in SOMA where we did two other resident interviews. Nevertheless, we were behind on schedule. We eventually decided to expand our range -- at least first find linguistically isolated Mandarin-speaking people. We went to Chinatown and conducted the other two interviews.


Interview Insights

We gathered all the voice recordings and notes after interviews and wrote transcripts for each of them for insights and analysis (they were in Chinese and then we translated it to English). 

We looked at transcripts and came up with findings and personas from resident interviews. (B: behavioral A: attitudinal)


Eventually, we wrote an interview summary for each resident interview.

Communities We Visited

Redux: Proposing Solutions

Based on the findings from previous research, I want to tackle this from two perspectives. 

In order to engage linguistically isolated groups in a community, one fundamental role is a bilingual representative/facilitator from the community that works directly with residents. The system should work bottom-up but not top-bottom: the community facilitator will gather residents' stories and feedback, and bring their voice to the community. 


Social Interaction Circles for Linguistically Isolated Speakers

Besides a representative, there should also be a translator at essential community events so that members will feel more inclusive.  

As the original project was to design for a community event at Potrero Hill neighborhood, I propose to have a Cultural Potluck among neighbors. Followed with a share-out of residents from different backgrounds of their experience of living in this neighborhood, inspired by the Potrero Hill History Night which has been happening for 20 years. Community representatives will also join the potluck so that residents can meet with their representatives in a casual setting. 


Mock-up posters for Potluck

Screen Shot 2019-12-11 at 3.15.20 PM

Google Form for Panel Sign-ups


Event Schedule


 Will Liang  ✿  2019