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?