Migrating to a better life- Understanding Community Perceptions of Migrant Farm workers
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"How might we improve the lives of migrant farm workers by changing community perception?"
We partnered with Indiana Legal Services (ILS), which provides legal representation in civil suits to Indiana residents who live below the poverty line as well specific constituencies. Chris Christensen, Director of the Migrant Farm worker Law Center, is responsible for making sure migrant farm workers in Indiana have adequate legal counsel and informing them of the legal resources that are available. A series of conversations with Chris and other members of the migrant farm worker's coalition revealed that public awareness is one of the problems related to migrant farm workers.
Our goal was to reframe the problem from public awareness to migrant farm workers’ quality life with the question, “what is the root problem involved in migrant farm workers?”
Timeline of project: Fall 2013 - Spring 2014 (approximately 8 months)
Elwood, Indiana is home to Red Gold, tomato processing company based in Elwood, Indiana and surrounding communities. Because tomatoes are delicate, farm workers still pick tomatoes by hand. Migrant farm workers and their families make their way to Elwood around mid to late March and stay through the summer. During this time, migrant camps are filled and towns are nearly doubled in population. This causes tension between the community and the farm workers.
Designing the project from a community-based view, we focused on community factors and conducted research in 2 phases.
Phase 1 focused on problem framing through ethnographic methods such as interviews, observations, as well as photo studies.
Phase 2 explored opportunities through ideation utilizing participatory design facilitation.
We developed semi-structured interview booklets with questions so that we can document information for our research. These booklets were created for us to document and keep track of our interviews and observations at various businesses and organizations throughout our study.
We developed an activity diary for migrant workers as well as provided a camera for photo studies. Our migrant workers preferred language for instructions and activities in Spanish. We worked with a Spanish speaking colleague to carefully craft our instructions for the diary and photo studies for our participants.
We facilitated a participatory design session with employees at a career center in Elwood, Indiana. This session revealed community feelings and interactions towards migrant farm workers.
We provided creative toolkits for participants to visually explain community interactions and feelings. Participants were given pencils, pens, markers, glue, scissors, and a pre-determined packet of photos and words that could be cut out.
We took large amounts of data from our diary and photo studies, interviews, and observations and sorted our data to identify opportunities and pinpoint problem spaces. We identified several brightspots in our analysis. Based on our research, business owners interacted with farm workers the most and often recognized returning migrant families. Oftentimes, business owners would become concerned when farmworkers would leave families behind.
Insight: Business Owners were a great way to engage the community and migrant farm workers.
We invited many prominent members of the community- from business owners to educators to participate in a brainstorming session. We asked our participants to place themselves in the shoes of a migrant farm worker utilizing a persona card. They generated solutions individually to the problem that a particular migrant farm worker persona faced. Then they moved to the next station where they were asked to complete the same task and build off the previous participants' solution to the problem faced. This method helped community partners build upon each other's ideas in order to create well-rounded solutions for common problems faced by migrant farmworkers during their stay in Elwood.
This information design blueprint presents different opportunities for consensus keeping of migrant farm workers in order to help them gain access to resources.
Additional Methods Used: Participatory Design, User Journey Maps, Ethnography, Interviews, Field Observations, P.O.E.M.S., Facilitation, Affinity Diagramming, Diary Studies, Photo Studies, 360º Prototyping, Why What's Stopping You?, Collage Method, and many many more.
Design Software Used: Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop
Team Members: Prianka Rayamajhi, Jen Smerdel, Kaelyn Donnelly, Nicholas Walters, Chin Powit Rungsangthiwakorn
Collaborators: Chris Christensen, lawyer from Indiana Legal Services, various business owners in Elwood, Indiana.