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Loka Alert 8:5 (August 8, 2001)

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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

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

This is one in an occasional series on the democratic politics of research, science, and technology issued free of charge by the nonprofit Loka Institute. TO BE ADDED TO THE LOKA ALERT E-MAIL LIST, or to reply to this post, please send a message to <Loka@Loka.org>. TO BE REMOVED from the Loka Alert E-mail list, send an E-mail with no subject or message text to <loka-alert- unsubscribe@egroups.com>. (If that fails, just notify us at <Loka@Loka.org>). IF YOU ENJOY LOKA ALERTS, PLEASE INVITED INTERESTED FRIENDS & COLLEAGUES TO SUBSCRIBE. Thanks!

The Fourth Annual Community Research Network Conference was held July 6-8, 2001 in Austin, Texas, at the University of Texas, Austin. Below is an initial report on the conference, highlighting key discussion points. A full conference report will be available in the Fall. For more information about the conference, check out the Loka web site, www.Loka.org.

Cheers to all,

Jill Chopyak Executive Director


The Loka Institute P.O. Box 355, Amherst, MA 01004, USA E-mail <Loka@Loka.org> Web <http://www.Loka.org> Tel. 413-559-5860; Fax 413-559-5811


CONTENTS

(I) Initial Report 2001 Annual Community Research Network Conference.............................................(4 pages)

(II) LOKA INSTITUTE UPDATES.................................(1/2 page)

(III) INTERNSHIPS AT THE LOKA INSTITUTE.....................(1/3 page)

(IV) ABOUT THE LOKA INSTITUTE..............................(1/3 page)


August 8, 2001 Loka Alert 8:5

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 participants.

"As a scholarship recipient and a graduate student I would like to thank Loka for the opportunity to come and see firsthand the work of other folks engaged in CBR."

CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS

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 process.

** 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 RECOMMENDATIONS

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@Loka.org, or call us at 413-559-5860 with your thoughts and ideas.

"[The conference] wasn't always seamless but it was always stimulating and inclusive...Carry on the good work! We really need what you are doing and God bless the funders who recognize this also… [yours] was an investment whose leverage and impact may be well beyond your understanding." - CRN Conference participant

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


(II) LOKA INSTITUTE UPDATES

** LOKA ADVOCACY – RESULT Loka's advocacy efforts on House Bill H.R. 1858, the Science and Mathematics Partnerships Act, has resulted in the inclusion of community-based organizations in the Bill's report language: "The Committee is also aware of the important role that community-based organizations and other non-profit public interest groups can make to improving education and involving a wide variety of students. NSF should allow, and encourage the partnerships to include non-profit research institutes, professional associations, community-based organizations and other entities that have demonstrated experience, providing math and science education." We are now working on the Senate side to get community-based organizations included in their version of the Bill.

** LOKA NEW INITIATIVE Loka has launched a new initiative, Kinective Research Management (KRM). The program focuses on the development of management practices specifically for such research collaborations. The emerging framework has the potential to produce results that are above and beyond the input of each partner. "Kinective" is a derivation of the words "kinetic" and "connective." Using democratic participation as an underlying principle, the kinective management framework harnesses and transfers the ability of each participant in the research process into a relationship that creates more efficient use of each stakeholder's expertise.

Loka's KRM initiative includes a series of activities focused initially on management research and the further development of a management framework for collaborative research projects. Although there exist studies on community-based research practices and their benefits, there is little information about the management practices that allowed for successful projects. The initial piece of research under the KRM program will begin to address this issue. Check out Loka's web site to download the initial paper, "Managing multi-sector research partnerships", presented by Loka's executive director Jill Chopyak and Board member Peter Levesque.


(III) LOKA INSTITUTE INTERNSHIPS

The Loka Institute has openings for volunteers, graduate and undergraduate student interns, and work-study students.

Interns' responsibilities include updating our Web page; managing email lists and listservs; conducting background research on issues concerning science, technology, and society; and helping with administrative work. Interns committing to a semester or more will have the opportunity to integrate independent research into their internship experience.

Candidates should be self-motivated and able to work as part of a team as well as independently. A general knowledge and comfort with computers is needed. Experience in Web page maintenance is preferable. Undergraduate students, graduate students, and recent graduates are welcome to apply. Loka is able to provide interns with an expense stipend of $35 per day for volunteering (or $700 per month full-time-equivalent).

If you are interested in working with us to promote a democratic politics of science and technology, please send a resume and a succinct cover letter explaining your interest and dates of availability to: The Loka Institute, P.O. Box 355, Amherst, MA 01004, USA. We also are accept applications by e-mail to <Loka@Loka.org> or by fax to 413-559-5811.


(IV) ABOUT THE LOKA INSTITUTE

The Loka Institute is a nonprofit organization dedicated to making research, science and technology more responsive to democratically- decided social and environmental concerns. In doing so, we focus our efforts on achieving the following areas:

· Critical assessments: evaluation of science and technology policies and decision-making processes; evaluation of citizen participation and the social and environmental impact of science and technology policies at all levels.

· Education: build citizen and community capacity to have an effective voice in decision-making processes at the local, regional, national and international levels.

· Dissemination and advocacy: create avenues for citizen participation in research, science and technology processes and policies.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT our current activities and projects, to participate in our on-line discussion groups, to download or order publications, or to help, please visit our Web page: <http://www.Loka.org>. Or contact us via E-mail at <Loka@Loka.org> or by telephone at 413-559-5860.


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