what we did

Ethnographic Research

The information we traditionally gather - the more numerical and easy to measure - isn’t enough to represent the whole picture. There’s no doubt as to its usefulness and abundance. We see it used in places like marketing, public health, sports, and finances. While it allows us to understand the average and majority, and gives us the ability to see trends if we monitor things over time, it doesn’t let us see what’s happening on the fringes, or with outliers. Nor does it tell us the story of how people are experiencing their connections and interactions.

We worked with the design groups InWithForward and MaRS Solution Lab to undertake qualitative, on the ground research by talking to individuals and communities who are experiencing barriers and challenges to achieving wellness. We took a deep dive - exploring the needs, challenges and opportunities for urban wellness for all people in the five neighbourhoods. This primary ethnographic research (“thick data”) is rich in detail about people’s everyday lives, the needs they articulate and their future aspirations.

Ethnographers delve into the stories of people. Where have they been? What’s happening now? Where do they want to go? What do they want to do?

These stories gave us insight into what people want out of life, what gives them fulfillment. And it should come as no surprise that those experiencing homelessness and/or addictions have the same vision of urban wellness as anybody else, including others in these neighbourhoods – connection, a sense of purpose and to live comfortably.

This process gave us a much better understanding of these neighbourhoods based on the insights of those who live and work there. Stories collected offered a grounded understanding of the everyday realities of Edmontonians in these neighbourhoods. Combined with statistics, this data set provided insight into the important intelligence about the existing strengths and assets of each neighbourhood.

There are people in these neighbourhoods who create a space that’s special. Among them are business owners who view community a bit different. And so, they operate their businesses to reflect their social conscience. This is just one example of the assets and strengths present in these neighbourhoods. There are many more – we need to simply meet and talk to people to hear their stories.

Learn more about what we found out in this phase of research about the wellness for those with lived experience and their formal and informal support networks:

Summary Trend Report

Edmonton Stories Photo Update

Profiles of People

Day-in-a-life Stories

Front-line Staff Portraits

Profiles of Places

Playback Posters

Community Ethnography Report