From Oakland to El Centro, we journeyed across the state of California.

 
 

We wanted to understand the changes Californians would like to see in their communities.

 
 

To truly understand the challenges and aspirations facing working families and young adults, we immersed ourselves in creative ways to listen to people in their communities. From the start, we collaborated with local leaders to recruit and invite residents who could share their experiences and perspectives, as well as the solutions and approaches that could make a difference.

We also asked participants to share what role creativity and creative practices play in their lives. 

We visited six regions in California.

Bay Area
• Oakland
• San Francisco

Central Coast
• Salinas

Inland Empire
• Coachella
• Ontari
o

Los Angeles
• Downtown LA
• South LA

Imperial & San Diego County
• El Centro
• San Diego

San Joaquin Valley
• Fresno

 
 

To document and amplify participants’ voices, we used a mix of research methodologies.


WE CONDUCTED 14 LISTENING SESSIONS WITH OVER 400 PARTICIPANTS IN 10 LANGUAGES.

The Community Listening Sessions were held in community centers, churches, union halls, and schools across six regions. Participants represented many ethnicities, ages, immigration statuses, and sectors of work.

Sessions were highly interactive, blending Q&A, group discussion, identifying patterns, brainstorming, and reflection. During the listening sessions, we encouraged participants to share what they love to do, write down their challenges, and draw their ideas for change.  

We captured all of this rich data along the way and synthesized it into the five key themes.

Languages: Amharic, Armenian, Cantonese, English, Korean, Mandarin, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese

 
 

WE SPOKE MORE IN-DEPTH WITH INDIVIDUALS IN THEIR HOMES AND WORKPLACES.

After some listening sessions, we spent 60–90 minutes talking with one or more Californians in their homes or at work. In total, we spoke to 17 individuals in-depth. These conversations gave deeper insights into their everyday lives. We shared many of their stories in subsequent sessions to stimulate conversations and understand key similarities and differences between communities and individuals.

Hear some of their stories >>

 
 

WE SPOKE TO COMMUNITY LEADERS.

In each of the six regions, we worked closely with local leaders. They shared their deep knowledge of their communities and what makes them unique from other parts of the state. They helped us identify and invite the Californians we needed to meet.

We asked our regional advisors to provide input on the Community Listening Session design, review what we learned, and reflect on potential implications for Irvine’s work. Advisors were instrumental in ensuring that people were welcomed into the work and truly heard.

Read more about the regions >>

 

 
 

WE CONTINUED TO LEARN FROM CALIFORNIANS THROUGH A SMARTPHONE APP.

We used dscout, a mobile research app, to expand the reach of our listening to Californians ages 18–36 across the state. Through the dscout app, anyone with a smartphone can apply for research studies called “missions.” If selected, they use their own device to capture photos or video of themselves or their surroundings to respond to a given topic, as well as to answer a few open-ended, multiple-choice questions.  

In the first mission, we asked scouts to “Speak out!” by sharing their hopes, dreams, and challenges via selfie video — as if they were addressing a person in power (e.g., California’s governor, their mayor, their boss). In the second mission, scouts used video to show us how they use creativity in their daily lives. 

Using dscout, we heard from 58 Californians across the state, including those in communities we did not visit. We deepened our understanding of how they leverage their voices and creativity in their lives.

 
 

We discovered FIVE common themes across all 14 listening sessions, as well as insights on creative expression.

Read the first of five themes >>