Learn action research skills, network at free workshop

University and community members and their organizations and agencies are invited to explore common interests and learn a technique for addressing campus/community concerns at a two-day workshop next month. The event will feature U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, leading experts in the field of participatory action research, and community leaders.

The Sofia Quintero Art and Cultural Center in Toledo will be the site June 1 and 2 of “Common Interests, Shared Efforts,” a workshop on participatory action research organized by BGSU’s Partnerships for Community Action (PCA) and Center for Innovative and Transformative Education (CITE).

The free workshop is an opportunity for representatives of service agencies, research centers, community centers, universities, and youth-serving and grass-roots organizations to create connections among themselves and learn the basic tools and skills for participatory action research. While there is no charge to attend, registration is required by Tuesday (May 15).

Participatory action research is based on the idea that all citizens have the ability to evaluate their communities and take action to better their circumstances by defining issues, interpreting findings and determining solutions.

“It will be a community-building, networking weekend,” said Patrick Vrooman, interim assistant PCA director. “The goal is to start here and see what comes.”

Through interactive workshops, shared meals, presentations, a walking tour and community garden workshop, participants will have the chance to get to know one another and examine the main issues their groups are facing, their most pressing needs, obstacles they face, lessons learned and possibilities for collaboration they might offer.

Giving the opening address will be Andrew Mott, director of the Community Learning Project and a Senior Fellow at the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University, working with the Research Center on Leadership in Action. In 1967, Mott began 35 years of service with the Center for Community Change and its predecessor, the Citizens' Crusade Against Poverty. He helped provide technical assistance and assistance with organizational development, housing and community reinvestment and development to several hundred grass-roots, low-income and minority community organizations and community development corporations throughout the United States.

“Among other things, Andrew Mott has developed the idea of ‘citizen monitors’ and interdisciplinary programs focusing on activism for community colleges and universities,” Vrooman said.

Also participating will be Dr. Mary Brydon-Miller, an associate professor of urban educational leadership and educational foundations at the University of Cincinnati. She is a participatory action researcher who engages in both community-based and educational action research. She is also on the editorial board of Action Researchand is launching a new interdisciplinary Action Research Center to be housed in the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services at UC.

On Friday evening, June 1, Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) President Baldemar Velásquez, a national and international leader in many areas, including farmworker, immigrant, Latino, labor and environmental affairs, will give a presentation on “Music Born Out of the Struggle” and perform with his Aguila Negra Band.

Along with PCA and CITE, the workshop is sponsored in collaboration with the Quintero center; the Needmor Fund; FLOC; BGSU’s School of Communication Studies, American Culture Studies Program and departments of sociology and educational foundations and inquiry; and the University of Toledo’s Department of Foundations of Education.

The Sofia Quintero Center is at 1225 Broadway in Toledo. To register for the event, email or visit by Tuesday (May 15). For more information, call 2-7316.

May 14, 2007