Category Archives: community

Unity of New Westminster: Community Research Project embedded in social constructionism

UnityBoardFirstCommunityConversation

Barb (red sweater), Aaron, Liz (purple sweater) and Nova with the Board of Unity of New Westminster.

After some discussion with the Unity of New Westminster Church, Barb Goode, Liz Etmanski and I received a small community research grant to explore and document their congregation, history and future directions.  The grant allowed us to give an honorarium, buy food for gatherings and hire a research manager who kept us organized.   The Taos Institute, which I partnered with in my PhD program, investigates things from a social constructionist lens:

Social constructionist dialogue – of cutting edge significance within the social sciences
and humanities – concerns the processes by which humans generate meaning together.

Our focus is on how social groups and the relational practices within those groups create and sustain beliefs in the real, the rational, and the good.

We recognize that as people create meaning together, so do they sow the seeds of action.

Meaning and action are entwined.

As we generate meaning together we create the future.

In research, this means that we involve those we are “researching” as partners in dialogic ways – they co-construct the questions, they participate in events that allow us a better understanding of the meaning we are continually making together, and of what we might do in the future, together.  It is also important that what we generate can be understood by the general population, and isn’t merely an academic exercise, but leads to actual change that includes the group of research participants.  Other interests of our group are in “inclusive research” (in which people with disabilities are involved partners) and graphic recording and visual facilitation.

unitypathwholeWe used PATH as a way to engage the board in planning for the future, after larger, generative community meetings that explored what mattered to the congregation.

This project began in April 2018, and ended in May 2019 with reports to the Unity of New Westminster Board of Directors, the congregation at their AGM, and to the Taos Institute, who received the report.  Further actions will include some more writing for Taos publications on the project.  To download and read the report, “The Role of the Unity of New Westminster Church in Post-Modern Community; Using social constructionist research for a “future forming” congregation,” click here: UnityResearchReportForDistribution

The research methods here build on those we’ve used in previous community-based research and we have already begun working with a couple of other groups on similar research projects in other areas of education and community services.

Please contact us if you are interested in similar research projects!  Aaron – imagineacircle@gmail.com

UnityWizOfOzLiz

Download My Chapter from Drawn Together in Visual Practice

aaronpathbooklaunch2I had a great time yesterday at the Vancouver book launch of the new anthology, Drawn Together Through Visual Practice, edited by Brandy Agerbeck, Kelvy Bird, Sam Bradd and Jennifer Shepherd.   You can download my chapter below.   I’m really pleased with it – these were great anthologists and editors to work with and I’d jump at a chance to be part of something like this again with the same folks (whereas most of these publishing experiences don’t end with me wanting to repeat the experience!).

drawntogethervancouverpresenters

Stina Brown also wrote a great chapter and was MC for the event (check our her blog and an upcoming training in visual practices that she’s doing); you can find out more about the really amazing Sam Bradd on his blog “Drawing Change“;  Aftab Erfan wrote a chapter on her practices in Deep Democracy facilitation work and gave a great introduction to some of those ideas.    Our short presentations were amazingly recorded by two of Vancouver’s finest visual practitioners, Avril Orloff and Corrina Keeling.

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The information was great, the vibe was cool at the Galerie Gachet, and the book is lovely but really it was just like a terrific party of people moving forward towards a more wonderful world.   I was exhausted after a really busy week and it was just what I needed 🙂

pathpresentationgraphicMy chapter, “Sensemaking through Arts-Infused, Person-Centered Planning Processes,” is about PATH.  I used this graphic in my talk, which focused on an idea we worked with David and Faye Wetherow to learn with groups of B.C. families – that person centered planning events are an opportunity for invitation to all kinds of folks who will add all kinds of ideas.   The unicorn in the graphic represents the idea that, always, if we focus on this idea of invitation someone will show up with a magical idea that you’d never have thought of before and, “magic happens.”

MagicHappens.JPG

Below are links to my chapter, and to the handout (a little foldable PATH-ezine that you can print and turn into a tiny booklet) that I used.  You can learn more about the book and how to get a copy on the site (subscribe for updates!) and there is also a Facebook page.  In Canada, check it out on amazon.ca (just released: a Kindle version).

Chapter: drawn_together_johannes

PATH ezine (feel free to print and distribute):

pathzine

Please feel free to forward this!   Contact me imagineacircle@gmail.com for permission to republish or if you’d like to talk co-creation for your events, projects or research.

Syllabus #CLMOOC

Then I thought, hey And courses I’m teaching – person centred planning for folks with disabilities, leadership and developmental studies through the lifespan – are really exciting too.  As usual I am thoughtful about how the support of folks with disabilities, one of the most lively, joy-provoking things to do, is made dull with old scripts based on needs and lacks and deficits…    and perhaps that’s the point?  If we were to really throw ourselves into the inspiration that folks with disabilities give us – I don’t mean by this a kind of disability-porn too-easy sleaziness – the way they and their families view the world and make it possible for all of us to view it in new ways that insist on our changing ourselves and the world so that it can belong to everyone.
And, if you are already working in the field you might want to check out Douglas College’s PLAR – Prior Learning and Recognition – because you can get credit for your experience that you can use towards a diploma or a degree.
Also I need to make a really great video.  You can see more of Mike’s work in Digital Ethnography here.
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