Fwd: report of community research network conference
> INITIAL REPORT
> 2001 Annual Community Research Network Conference
> "Re-Shaping the Culture of Research:
> People, Participation, Partnerships and Practical Tools"
> By Jill Chopyak and Khan Rahi
>Launched in 1995 by the Loka Institute, the Community Research Network
>(CRN) is a comprehensive, international network of community- based
>research (CBR) practitioners from grassroots communities, funding
>agencies, universities, local government offices and national research
>institutions. The CRN aims to support and enhance collaborative,
>community-based research activities through education and training,
>networking opportunities, information on funding resources, media
>outreach, and advocacy efforts.
>Community-based research is based upon the principles of participation and
>partnership. It puts affected communities in the driver's seat for finding
>solutions to the problems they face. Recent movies such as A Civil Action
>and Erin Brocovich have shown how such citizen action can lead to positive
>change in a community. There are, however, hundreds of communities around
>the country that are involved in research to solve problems of
>environmental health, economic development, racial injustice, and
>agricultural sustainability that are not shown on the big screen. These
>are the people that make up the Community Research Network.
>The Fourth Annual Community Research Network Conference was held July 6-8,
>2001 at the University of Texas, Austin. Sponsored by the Loka Institute,
>and hosted by the Urban Issues Program at the University of Texas and the
>Llano Grande Center for Research and Development of Edcouch, Texas, the
>conference brought together approximately 180 participants from 13
>different countries. Financial support from the C.S. Mott Foundation and
>conference co-sponsors (see below) enabled Loka to provide full or partial
>scholarship to approximately 50 people - over 30% of conference
>As a conference location, Austin, TX took the Community Research Network
>out of the East, bringing in new participants from the Southwest and
>Western part of the U.S. Local hosts from Austin and south Texas gave us a
>taste of southwest culture and a sense of place through live music, art
>work, and storytelling by renowned author David Rice. Conference keynote,
>Enrique Trueba, provided a broad introduction to community-based research,
>both in theory and his personal practice. The conference used an adapted
>version of Open Space, making the conference a combination of self-defined
>circle discussions, plenary discussion, and tools-based workshops.
>Some of the key issues that emerged from conference discussions included:
>** Involving young people in community-based research - it is important to
>continue to recognize the power of young people in conducting
>community-based research. They are the voice of the future, and often,
>have the ability to speak to policy-makers, funders and academics in a way
>others can't. Training young people as researchers also builds community
>leadership and capacity, and often will provide the energy to invigorate
>and involve a community.
>** Regional networking - Saturday morning focused on the development of
>regional networks. Conference participants grouped themselves by the
>various regions around the U.S. Discussion focused on establishing
>regional networks in the northeast, west and southeast initially. All
>groups recommended having regional conferences before the next national
>conference in 2002.
>** Language - It's important to use language that is understood by both
>community members and academics. Often, language is used to exclude
>individuals from participation. Community-based research is about shifting
>the power dynamics of traditional research, so language needs to be
>understandable to all involved.
>** Need to recognize community knowledge as valid - Community-based
>research is about altering the idea that only formalized or
>institutionalized scientific knowledge is valid. We need to shift the
>research process and priorities to understand that community-based
>knowledge brought together with science creates well-balanced information
>can pave the way for positive change.
>** Building partnerships takes time, and trust is essential - Issues of
>race, gender and class need to be discussed further. We need to recognize
>that removal of these barriers is essential to building meaningful and
>effective partnerships. The division between universities and communities
>needs to be bridged and harmonized. Having intermediary organizations that
>can bridge the gap is often useful.
>** Increase funding for community-based research - The lack of resources
>for community-based research activities is always a barrier to long-term
>sustainable CBR projects and activities. Partnerships between funders, and
>between funders and grantees needs to be encouraged. Conference
>participants developed an advocacy plan aimed at increasing funding for
>community-based research. They asked the Loka Institute to coordinate and
>implement these efforts.
>** International cooperation - Globalization requires action cross-
>nationally. We need to fill in the gap and bring forward more examples
>from Southern countries. We need to address issues of poverty and
>marginalization that are a result of globalization. There is also a need
>and opportunity for community-based research projects cross-nationally
>that will make the connection between a local situation and a global
>** Media - We need to increase contacts with the media and use the media
>as a fundraising and social change tool.
>The ALANA (African, Latin, Asian and Native American) Caucus of the CRN
>met to discuss its mission and future activities. Below is a summary of
>that discussion prepared by Hasan Crockett, Ph.D., Director, Brisbane
>Institute, Morehouse College.
>Mission Statement: Points for Consideration
>· ALANA supports the recovery and reconstruction of the history of
>communities of color committed to the notion of knowledge in the service
>of community. · ALANA supports knowledge and educational institutions as
>functions of community and opposed these institutions separate from
>communities "reaching in" to solve problems. The
>localization/indigenization of knowledge production and transmission must
>be central to ALANA's development (place based education and research). ·
>We must support and develop popular forms of education and research that
>are community generated and transmitted as opposed to paternalistic
>approaches descending from the academy or other "external organizations".
>The assumption here is that regardless of ones occupation, one is a
>community member first and foremost. We must become and seek to inspire
>the development of "organic intellectuals".
>Suggested Concrete Goals of ALANA Caucus
>· Unite communities and individuals of color within a network that
>supports the development of functional community based research praxis and
>institutions. · In the process, share experiences (both successes and
>failures), which will advance community-based research within communities
>and institutions controlled by people of color. · Contribute to the
>ongoing debate and process associated with making knowledge production and
>education more relevant, culturally sound and humane within the context of
>communities of color. · Encourage the development of a national network
>driven by functional local institutions. · Develop a biannual publication
>that supports the goals stated above. · Meet annually to develop a level
>of autonomy in theory and practice for ALANA. · Develop a financial base
>to support the development of ALANA.
>Conference participants also offered several suggestions for future
>conferences as well as the future work of Loka as the coordinator of the
>Community Research Network. These included:
>· Incorporate a field trip into the conference.
>· Have a training opportunity for those new to the topic to learn
>about CBR before the conference.
>· Increase access to funders, and provide information on how to
>secure funds for CBR activities.
>· Increase electronic forum discussions in between conferences to
>enhance the activity of the CRN.
>· Facilitate the development of regional working groups/networks.
>· Need additional discussion/case studies on how community-based
>research is a legitimate and useful methodology for science, not just
>for community development.
>· Create an online "tool-kit" with resource guide.
>As coordinator of the CRN, the Loka Institute welcomes other
>suggestions for next year's conference and other CRN activities. We
>have begun to implement some many of the suggestions above and those
>suggested by conference participants. If you were not able to attend
>the conference, we hope to hear from you too! Please email
>Loka@..., or call us at 413-559-5860 with your thoughts and
>The Loka Institute would like to thank the C.S. Mott Foundation for
>their support of the Community Research Network, and the Albert A.
>List Foundation, the Menemsha Fund, the European Commission, the
>Annie E. Casey Foundation, the National Science Foundation and the
>Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities for other Loka project
>and general operating support.
>We would also like to thank the following organizations and
>individuals for co-sponsoring the conference and for participating in
>the conference planning committee:
>The Annie E. Casey Foundation
>Council for Undergraduate Research
>The Institute for Community Research
>New Directions Community-Based Research Institute
>The Policy Research and Action Group
>Conference Planning Committee
>Miguel Guajardo, Univ. of Texas Urban Issues Program, Llano Grande
>Center for Research & Development
>Peter Levesque, Social Science & Humanities Research Council, Canada
>Juan Valadez, Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church
>Oliver Loveday, Appalachian Focus
>Andrew Collver, New Directions Community-Based Research Institute
>Heather Fenyk, Rutgers University
>Torri Estrada, Urban Habitat Program
>Loka Institute Staff: Jill Chopyak, Khan Rahi, Rose Ryan, Geert
>Dhondt, Vionne Revering
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