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Fwd: report of community research network conference

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  • Cybersociology List Moderator
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 12, 2001
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      >From: <Loka@...>
      > 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.
      >ALANA Caucus
      >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:
      >Conference Co-Sponsors
      >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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