Ethnicity is not an easy idea to discuss, much less to pin down accurately. Conditions, perceptions, and politics differ widely in different regions of America, and much discussion thus far has been based in experiences limited to the Northeast and Midwest. The West Coast, especially the San Francisco Bay area with its unique historical ethnic settlement patterns, has been virtually unexplored for contemporary insight into ethnic diversity and lower middle class problems.
With this in mind, the American Jewish Committee's National Project on Ethnic America undertook a project in San Francisco modeled after its work in more than a dozen other large American cities since 1968. With the generous assistance of the San Francisco Foundation and a broad-based advisory planning committee of community leaders, the San Francisco Project was able to do the following: 1) make an analysis of statistical data and conduct a number of individual interviews in four San Francisco ethnic communities: Italian, Irish, Russian, and German; 2) Hold a two-day Consultation on Ethnicity in November 1971; 3) Begin follow-up project development in both the ethnic communities where problems were uncovered and the city wide institutions where work and involvement are needed.