Connecting local responses around the world
I have been informally involved with Society for Community Research and Action. The group recently had an exciting discussion on definition of CP practice and how it can/is/should change! I watched the video later and found it very useful and want to share with you. Thanks to Nicole Freund, Research Scientist, Managing Editor, Global Journal of Community Psychology Practice for this video.
Key takeaways from the video
Whose knowledge is considered valid?
The discussion was around how community psychologists can be a bridge between communities and academia and funding agencies. For instance one participant said that academia does not find the arts based research legitimate.
Similarly there was conversation around evidence. Do communities have an equal voice in deciding what constitutes evidence or what is considered data. Participants mentioned how collective impact had gained popularity amongst funders but it has its limitations. Read Tom Wolff's article https://charterforcompassion.org/images/menus/communities/pdfs/2302...
Then what is the way forward? All agreed that we have to get the communities on the forefront and the table on issues concerning them. One participant suggested a written agreement between funding agencies and communities on how the project will look like and the evaluation. Others cautioned on the term community engagement. It should not be tokenistic. community workers or psychologists do not want to give their power or privilege Another challenge when we get communities engaged is that power brokers in the community take the forefront. Those working with communities elevate marginalised voices and need to bring them forward in the development paradigm. One powerful example came from Julian on communities pushing funding agency's boundaries. He shared about a tribal community which negotiated with funder as definition of tribal community on health was vastly different from western definition of behaviour health and was able to get significant latitude on operationalising the project.
Thus, to conclude that community building should aim to re-distribute power. It is about true engagement and sharing of power with communities and discussion on who has the power to define evidence. And getting funding agencies to re-centre communities and think ways of collaborative decision making and not bring big, fancy ideas from outside. Constellation's community life competence process offers a systematic process that communities can systematically chart their way. The SALT approach is the spirit of the process and helps community workers shift from interventionists to facilitators and use equity lens in their work.
The original definition of community psychology practice was efforts “to strengthen the capacity of communities to meet the needs of constituents and help them to realize their dreams in order to promote well-being, social justice, economic equity and self-determination through systems, organizational and/or individual change” (Julian, 2006) In the intervening years much has emerged that requires the field to revisit this definition. This includes: