Community-Based Research Cluster – Conversation Starter

Hello to all members of the CBR Cluster (and other curious BrotherALTA  and SISters) We had a good initial conversation by teleconference. Hope you all received the minutes. To start this online conversation (BLOGing) there are three things Ana Maria and I would like to put on the table.

1. We talked about the BALTA-SIS partnerships with communities that is part of this Partnership Development Grant. One aspect of the conversation was the sentiment that there are already lots of community partners at the table. So, a first request – those of you who represent a ‘community’ partner, can you send a note via e-mail to Sandy in Ana Maria’s shop so we can generate a list. We will then consolidate the list, send it out as a Blog on this site and use that as a conversation starter around engaging existing and new community partners including the 2nd item that came out of our initial teleconference (criteria for selection of community partners).

2. One of the tools we want to use for knowledge Mobilization is Webinars. The other clusters have identified and begun to schedule Webinars which all of us are welcome to attend. We would like to identify Webinars and webinar leaders of course, that would benefit our work and also be of interest to the wider partnership (the other clusters). We will shortly set up a CBR RC2 Webinars Blog where that conversation can happen.

Ana Maria and I think a strategy here is to identify Webinars in thematic areas of the  Partnership – Food, Energy, Housing. Perhaps there are resource people external to the partnership we may want to invite to do a Webinar. Perhaps you (our cluster members) would like to offer a Webinar?  The goal of the Webinars would be to share knowledge about working with a community in Scaling Up and Out of Social Economy Innovations. A second goal of Webinars would be knowledge sharing about Methodologies used in this work. Sometimes rather than talking in abstractions about PAR we can get further ahead in our understanding by talking about applications of PAR.

3. There was a lot of lively discussion about the  Participatory Action Research (PAR) methodology – being clear in what we mean by that and issues around ‘authentic’ PAR including the potential pitfalls and the need for diligence in its application. We talked about our ‘conversation ‘ about PAR being a research project in itself – our ongoing conversation can be a tool for evolving consensus around what we mean by PAR and how we want to employ it in this project, and as a data source for an academic piece on PARcraft (capturing the process of creating a PAR research methodology in such a diverse practitioner-academic partnership).

So to summarize we are asking you to

a. Send in your notes to Sandy on existing community partnerships within this group. We will use that to start a Blog on Community Partnerships and selection criteria.

b. Look for the new Blog on CBR Cluster Webinar speakers and topics and contribute you ideas via the comment string

c. Look for a new Blog post to kick off the conversation about PARcraft and join in the conversation.

Note: For those not familiar with Blogs, you simply find the Blog post on the running list of posts on the BALTA-SIS website, read through it and then post a comment. The ongoing conversation will be capture by the ongoing comment string.

We’ll monitor the Blogs to see if it working as a means of communication supplemented by the tele-conferences,  and make adjustments to the plan as we go.

Happy Blogging!,

Noel and Ana Maria

3 responses to “Community-Based Research Cluster – Conversation Starter

  1. The goal of the Webinars would be to share knowledge about working with a community in Scaling Up and Out of Social Economy Innovations. A second goal of Webinars would be knowledge sharing about Methodologies used in this work.

    Hi Noel – I am wondering how you are defining an innovation in food, housing, energy? I am sure you don’t want to hear about replicating a back yard gardening program across our region – but – what then? What qualifies as an innovation in these areas? Is there some source reading you can direct us to?

    Second question – when you refer to methodologies used, you are thinking about the methods to scale up and out – NOT research methods – is that correct? Again I am wondering what the base of research already is that informs us about best practice to scale up and out – can you refer me somewhere? It is much easier for those of us “in the trenches” (or for me in any case) to have a model or framework for thinking about something or comparing our work to.

    I could for example tell you that as part of replicating the Community resilience model at a neighbourhood scale in Victoria we have (so far) done the following:
    – engaged regional activists and orgs as a learning community to feed in and back on this work
    – adapted the CCCR model and tool (our own research, analysis, dialogue, debate & design process with a team of 4)
    – engaged neighbourhood orgs, groups and citizens in learning and connecting with each other around the topics of: what is resilience, resilience to what, how do we assess our community resilience, what can we do to strengthen resilience, how do we strengthen economic resilience, how do we engage others in this work
    – tested the model and tool in these workshops – revised the tool again
    – shared tons of cases, examples, stories and best practice
    – created space for people to connect across interests and place
    – engaged local government staff and officials in various ways & started to build relationships; established co-operation with other groups (United Way) doing neighbourhood work here; developed funding proposals and secured pilot funds
    – and now we have invited applications for a pilot neighbourhood over the next year – another whole set of methods will be used there

    This work cuts across food, shelter and energy and will impact those areas of life in varying degrees in each neighbourhood – or not – some groups for example are already focused on resilience visavie the economy which isn’t one of the topics. Does this kind of replication of an innovation (or it was in 2000 when we published it) qualify as “scaling up (not out yet) an innovation” under SIS? Is this list of “what we did” what you want us to be sharing? Really you are asking us to tell stories of projects where we are replicating something innovative — is that what you want?

    Thanks for helping me get clear – Michelle Colussi

  2. Hi Michelle,
    Apologies for the tardy response. this has been a challenging first half of semester.
    1. My definition – that is one of the things of the agenda for our group. You raised this question in the first tele-con and I think there was agreement that we do have to start with consensus on definitions. Our goal would be to start the Blog on that conversation after todays telecom and to include it in the discussion I hope we as a group will have re: Methodology
    2. Methodology. My use of the term refers to how we will approach the PAR engagement with partner communities. This would include consensus on what we as a group take to be PAR as a methodological framework and advance to particular methods and research tools as is discussed in the Mandate document. Again, we would propose to have that conversation via a Blog and comments. I hope we can flesh this out in our meeting today.

    As we see it our CBR group will develop the answers to most of your questions Michelle. We are not starting from a place where we have all those answers and need simply to convey them to the group. Our vision of how our work unfolds is that as a group we build this knowledge base.

    The Webinars is one avenue to do this – i.e. some of us who have experience working with communities should offer that experience to the group. Today I hope this is also a topic we can make some head way on – ie who has something to offer in a Webinar and what other resource people might we invite to offer a Webinar.

    Hopefully this is helpful though it does not contain a lot of answers.

  3. Thanks Noel – I think I am slowly starting to understand! I need to put it in my own words to see if I am on the right track here:
    It seems to me that there are four tasks:

    1) To define the range of scope of innovations we are talking about (this seems like a first order task to me – how can we engage community partners if we don’t yet know what we want to engage them IN?) It also seems to me that the work of Balta I started to define these – no? We are not starting from scratch here.
    2) To develop criteria for assessing community interest and readiness in scaling one or more of the innovations
    3) To develop a process of communicating with communities, animating, education and getting them to a point of being able to say “yes we want to work with this innovation or no this isn’t for us right now”
    (2 and 3 can be done together – however, my sense is the work is NOT to identify community partners until we are clearer about the innovations, criteria and roles we are talking about? Am I correct?)
    4) To define a range of research tools and methods that can be employed (based on a joint decision with each community) to accompany their scaling up process and learn – which implies also that we need to be very clear what the focus of our learning is: What do we want to understand about the micro, mezzo and macro activities, impacts and inter-relationships required to scale up this innovation? Shouldn’t the methods fit with the nature and focus of our inquiry – and not that we construct our inquiry to fit a certain method?

    So – I am still confused I think about how the webinars will contribute to us doing this work. The webinars are intended for our own learning about — the innovations? Or about research methods? Or both? Maybe I am closer to getting it though?? Thanks for your patience!!


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