An important way to understand a community or a place is to observe it and talk to the people who live in, use, and know the area. Field methods are techniques that help both planning professionals and community organizers learn how people use or perceive a given place, and its meaning to diverse community members. They also help us gain a better grasp of what residents or other users value and how an area functions or is managed. The field methods that we discuss in this chapter complement the community assessment techniques that evaluate the economic, physical, and social characteristics and the area’s market potential, covered in chapter 12. Field methods offer a qualitative dimension that allows us to uncover information and meaning that we simply cannot acquire from census and economic data alone.