Change on the Street
By Vladimir Almonnord, Mike Wang, Jessica Lee, Herbert Hsu | 2012
Homelessness and panhandling in Pasadena
Community and Connection matters
Our team of designers are asked to use design to mitigate panhandling and homelessness through public education campaign and a parking meter re-design. Ultimately the deliverables would provide multiple perspectives on people experiencing homelessness, inform residents about the existing resources available to homeless community members and the adverse effects of panhandling.
The Ethnographical Approach
Some actions are carried out on the street to collect primary data and insights. Two of our advisors, Sherry and Arden, from the department of Humanity & Science take care of our process during our interviews, observations, and interpretation without disobeying ethical guidelines. The tools like these special techniques are especially important; they’re only for us to tell the stories of people and the community of Pasadena.
Focus group interview are also taking place in the classroom; some people experienced homelessness are invited to share their experience. Also we go to Pasadena’s Homeless Connect Day, allowing us to gain a deeper understanding of the city’s homeless situation and available resources. We even visit Union Station Homeless Services and meet with caseworkers to find out how existing infrastructure works. We found, that the people experiencing homelessness or panhandling on the street are not so different from us; many of them had a good degrees and a job, and what makes them right now are often some tragedies, meaning, we might be just like them.
The key words repeatedly coming up from the study are “community” and “connection”, and these two words become our insights for synthesizing the ideas. At the midterm review of the project, five concepts of campaigns and meters are presented, including: R.U.P.R: Respond, Uplift, Prevent and Reintegrate people; ART, building a tighter sense of community through art while educating the younger generations via fun meters; CHANGE, which focused on people who visit Pasadena on a frequent basis; RECONNECT, reunite, reestablish, reintegrate people; and CODE, bringing awareness to the busy working people.
" the people experiencing homelessness or panhandling on the street are not so different from us; many of them had a good degrees and a job, and what makes them right now are often some tragedies, meaning, we might be just like them."
Elements of the ideas resonate with people the most are picked and being further developed. The team starts to put prototypes on the streets and observe, and we also begin to draw to outline of our campaign webpage and app. For the installment of the meters and the campaigns to take place, we studied the city of Pasadena and find where are the spot that we want these things to happen.
Our final direction is using some vintage element and the idea of a pintin for the community people can participate and make the meter friendly in the city.
Campaign and Meter into one
Meet Popsee, the Pintin in the community
Popsee is an entertaining interactive donation system and educational tool that enhances the Pasadena experience for families and kids by building empathy for an important human issue in an approachable way.
Find a Popsee on the campaign website, and the families in Pasadena are invited to join the Popsee paining activity. With the involvement of the community, empathy will be built, and Popsee will remain for more families to participate and share the sense of community in Pasadena.
When money is donated into the Popsee meter, the donator can watch a short film via the zoetrope that tells a story:
Popsi John is on his way to work
Popsi John pets his dog Berk
He gets in his car
Safe and secure
Reaches in his bag,
And eats his breakfast bar
He gets to work
bright and early
Only to find
a note from Shirley
He reads the letter
ith a bright red glow
but to his surprise it reads
“We have to let you go”
He packs his things
sad but hopeful
But his search for a job
was not so fruitful
Now 3 months later
He’s lost his home
and his family soon after He turns to the street Looking for a bite to eat What he finds instead
Is a turning head
With little hope left
a warm face appears
He reaches out his hand And what does he find
A place to call home
And a life rede ned
"The engagement aspects of these projects are very appealing, and whenever we can employ ways to creatively engage people is good."
– Paul Little, President & CEO, Pasadena Chamber of Commerce
Special Thanks to instructor James Chu, Sherry Hoffman, and Arden Stern. Also thank all partners, experts from participating parties in Pasadena and related homeless services.
Research & design
Dynamics of homelessness and social services
Ethnographical research ethics
Social campaign design with government
In a Nutshell
Parking meter and campaign design addressing the issue of people experiencing homelessness for City of Pasadena - a Designmatters project