Communicating with the Community

I will start off this blog with a video of Vauxhall, New Jersey breaking ground on their community garden. This video made me think of our community project with Ms. Derissa Davis and Mr. Kenneth Brown, and how they are just two ordinary people and we are just one ordinary class. Together though, we are going to build an incredible garden.

One of our goals is to design and fundraise for the garden this fall. We will also help Ms. Davis and Mr. Brown prepare the site so that it is ready to build on in the spring. We all have amazing ideas for this garden and, as Ms. Davis said, “There is no idea too big for this garden.” Washington Park area does not have access to food markets that carry fresh produce nearby. The community garden will help address this problem.

This week, we read two sociology articles that help frame our work. The first article is titled “Community-Based Participatory Research and the Co-Creation of Community Knowledge” and was written by Karie Jo Peralta and John W. Murphy. In community-based participatory research (CBPR), the researcher gains information from a community guide, who helps tell the story of the community. We must learn the community’s story in order to help it achieve its goals. As a class, we must always communicate with the community in a respectable way, honoring their culture, their history, and their stories. By doing so, we become equal partners with the community.

The second reading is titled, “Whose Culture Has Capital? A Critical Race Theory Discussion of Community Cultural Wealth,” by Tara J. Yosso. Yosso points out that too often people think about communities in terms of their problems, but by doing so they miss the beauty and strengths of those communities. Instead, Yosso says we should consider the assets that communities of color in particular often have. Communities of color, for example, usually have an abundance of aspirational, navigational, social, linguistic, familial, and resistant capital. In other words, they have hope even under the worst of conditions (aspirational capital). They also have great skills at navigating social institutions like schools and government despite those institutions being rooted in racism (navigational capital). Communities of color often have extensive networks (social capital) that extend the reach of the family to kinships and friendships (familial capital) through traditional storytelling (linguistic capital). Finally, communities of color have tremendous resistant capital, meaning that they have knowledge and skills that develop in the fight against oppression and for inclusion. As we, the class, come to recognize these assets in the Washington Park community, we will be better able to create new knowledge with the residents.

What I was able to take away from these readings was that sociology is a way to visualize and carry out the goal of the community garden.


Were you able to find similarities in the readings?

Is this your first time using community based participatory research (CBPR)?

How did you relate the readings to the community garden in Washington Park?


  • Amy Yates

    I absolutely love that video! I love to see community’s coming together and working to make their area a better place. I am inspired by these two articles, I have never done CBPR before, but I am going to be integrating it into my thesis research because I think it is important to understand what community members want and need as opposed to what outsiders think they need.

    • Breanne

      I agree with you Amy! I’ve never done CBPR (community based participatory research) before also, and I think it’s interesting to think how this could be applied to our research thesis. It makes sense to me that if research is being done in any community, they should be involved as well and be engaged with the research.

  • Nikolle

    I really liked that video. I feel like it goes hand in hand with what the Tiny Children’s Garden will be bringing to Washington Park. I think one of the most important things about this project is it is a CBPR based project. Meaning that it’s community-based. I think it is one thing to sit in a classroom and come up with a project but if it doesn’t meet the community needs is it really helping? I think it is important that the community members who are going to be using this garden have a say in what they want to see in there. If they want tomatoes but we grow cucumbers the garden isn’t going to be very useful.

    • Arieanna Morris

      I agree that we need to focus on the communities needs. This week really made me focus on communicating with the community in ways that I haven’t already thought of. Like you mentioned in your comment, it wouldn’t make sense to plant vegetables that the community or restaurants aren’t interested in. Maybe we can find a way to reach out to or include more people in the community.

      • Breanne

        I really liked your comment Nikki because I completely agree, I think community is crucial to this project and we need to focus on the needs of the community.

  • Rachel Green

    That video made the work we are starting to do for the Tiny Children’s Garden in Washington Park become a little more real to me because you got to see another community doing the same thing for the same exact reasons. I have never done CBPR, or community-based participatory research, however, after reading this article, I can see the importance of this type of research when starting projects in a community such as the Tiny Children’s Garden, because you want to make sure you listen to what they actually need and not what you think they might need.

  • Hayley Winker

    I really liked the video and think that it went really well with the readings. This is my first-time using community based participatory research and I am excited to see how it works out and to gain experience doing CBPR. I found your statement in that communities of color have an abundance of capital in many forms to relate directly to this community garden in Washington Park. This community in particular has an abundance of aspirational capital and it will be inspiring to work with the community members. Another important aspect that you bring up is the community guide which is something that we have and will be helpful to us while working on this CBRP in Washington Park.

  • Danielle Kulina

    That video was awesome! I hope we can get something like that done for the Tiny’s Children’s Garden. Maybe there is a local newspaper or something that could come out during the clean up day! We should look into that. Anyways ha, this is my first time using community based participatory research. I really have never heard of it before this class (which makes sense, since it is my first sociology class ever). I think it is important that we use the community to build/create this project. They are the ones who know what they need in a community, so it makes sense to get them involved. Also, I think it we involve the community, they will be more likely to feel like the garden is theirs.

    • Arieanna Morris

      I am glad you liked the video, I also think it would be great if the garden could get some type of publicity. I also want the community to feel like the garden is theirs, and as a class we can think of ways to include the community members more.

  • Breanne

    I liked your video Arieanna, especially because it relates so closely to our project with Derissa. I also agree that publicity would be good and community is embedded in this project. I can’t wait to get started.

  • Scott

    I think this video puts the vision of the garden in perspective. It shows us that with an combined effort, we can make this dream a reality. The garden holds so much potential provide not only physical sustenance to our communities, but emotional sustenance as well. I have had some experience with this kind of research through my involvement in starting a nonprofit organization to the benefit of my own small town. Although my role in this organization was not that of researcher, the benefit of having a personal connection with the community that guides your spirit and attitude can not be understated. A close personal relationship ensures that we are empowering communities. We are listening to, and addressing their needs as the community sees fit. We use our voices to amplify their own. I believe this personal connection is one of the most important aspects of our mission, and will help us address our past and future concerns as a team.

  • Linda J. Aguirre

    The video was a great way to show the Washington Park community that there are other people out there working on a similar projects like this garden. Not only that, that type of publicity can help bring in people outside of the community to come and volunteer or brainstorm more ideas so that this garden can grow and be around for a long time.

    Answering your second question, (“Is this your first time using community based participatory research (CBPR)?”) this is actually not my first time working on a project like this. About a year or so ago, a group of students and I were involved in a project at the Fairmont City Library. Our focus was to help the kids in the Latinx community become aware about colleges and universities. The students and I would take turns and go every other day out to the library; our purpose there was to build a connection with the kids in the community, get to know their interests and their understanding of higher education. Then, we would plan activities that were fun and educational for the kids in hopes to inspire them to become interested into going to college when they’re older.

  • Razan Mansour M

    Thank you Arieanna for sharing this awesome video! Now I am really excited to see the last phase of our project. Taking the class again in Spring won’t be a bad idea right :p.
    This is my first time doing CBRP, I didn’t know what is it the first time I hear it. But now, after working together to achieve the same goal I started Love the idea of it and talking about CBRP.
    In my opinion, I think this method is helping us to think differently as a group, not as one person to make changes in the community with their help as well. As we saw in the video the garden needed a commitment and continuous effort to be sustainable which is one of Ms. Davis’s goal to make this garden sustainable.

  • Suprasanna Aryal

    For me, getting to interact with community members from the very start of our project, be it the class meetings or visits, is the most important part. This means having a clearer idea about what the community wants out of the project and preventing us from making assumptions about what our goal should be.