What is research? Who researches? Who is researched?
What is planning? Who plans? Who is the planning done for? Who is impacted?
These are some of the questions we ask when problemitizing traditional approaches to research, evaluation and planning.
Using an approach grounded in the principles of Participatory Action Research (PAR), we partner with stakeholders to generate their own findings, and develop their own plans. These stakeholders might be community members facing a common problem together, or staff from all levels of an organization wanting an inclusive approach to strategic planning.
In addition to tailoring hybridized approaches to research, evaluation and planning, we also support traditional PAR:
Participatory Action Research or PAR brings people together to define for themselves what problems they face in their community, find solutions through talking with and gathering data from their peers, and then implementing those solutions through strategic and informed actions. It’s a model of community organizing that builds the capacity of people on the front-line of a problem to take leadership in creating the change they want.
Youth-Led Participatory Action Research or YPAR is exactly what it sounds like. Young people are the researchers who through the action research build their capacity to share their expertise and take leadership in overcoming their own problems, with support from adult allies.
“…YPAR represents a fundamental, critical strategy for youth development, youth-based policy making and organizing, and education.” – Julio Cammarota and Michelle Fine
For examples of projects we've facilitated or supported, see our past projects page
We also support groups who want to integrate a full, classic Participatory Action Research or Youth-Led Participatory Action Research project into their work:
Curriculum, weekly check-ins, training for trainers & co-facilitation as needed: From objective setting to curriculum and activity design, facilitation training, and strategy development your group will receive all of the support needed from start to finish of a full PAR or YPAR project. We will start with an intake process with all involved staff to design our approach and assess exactly what kind of support would be most useful. Content can cover theory, curriculum, activities, methods and co-facilitation.
- Participatory Action Research – overview and applications for community organizers: This workshop will introduce your group to the potential that participatory action research holds for building expertise among the community you are working with so that leadership truly does come from those who are being impacted by the problem. We will cover the philosophy behind PAR, the steps from start to finish of running a PAR project as well as tips for curriculum design and sample lessons.
- Developing a research team: This highly fun and experiential workshop covers not only strategies for recruiting community based researchers, but oodles of fabulous games and ice-breakers to build relationships and create healthy group dynamics and norms that can be used throughout a PAR process. We will not only play the games, but reflect on how to adapt and facilitate them, how to use them to teach content as well, and who to use them or not use them with!
- Research Design: This training covers the important and inspiring steps of 1) identifying an issue to focus on 2) developing vision and preliminary goals 3) identifying a research question which, if answered, will enable the group to achieve their vision 4) identifying which research tool to use (surveys, interviews, focus groups, photovoice or observation) and finally 5) designing the tool.
- Data Collection: In this training, participants will learn skills for using the tool (tips for conducting interviews, surveys etc) documenting the data (video, camera, recorder etc) organizing data, and then we will go out and do it!
- Data Analysis: The most rewarding, exciting and challenging aspect to PAR, we will identify emergent themes, develop filters to create data sets, dive in and come up with findings that are each backed by supporting evidence. Then we will decide what we want to recommend and who we want to recommend it to.
- Report Writing and Presentation: Does your group want to talk to city council? Present a play, a powerpoint, make a movie or a website? Perhaps they want to facilitate an interactive workshop with some of the key decision makers or stake holders they have identified and develop a written report to give them. In this training we will decide our audience, and from there decide what the best way to reach that audience is – then design it, write the report outline, and rehearse the presentation.
- Action!: Still no change? Time to escalate? This training series will review the various tactics that we could use and decide which ones would be most strategic to influence our audience and create change, then we will design them, organize for them, and do them. Tactics could include anything from holding up huge banners to street theater to creating and putting up posters all over town to having a sit in.
“Human existence cannot be silent, nor can it be nourished by false words, but only by true words, with which men and women transform their world. To exist, humanly is to name the world, to change it. Once named, the world in its turn reappears to the namers as a problem and requires of them a new naming. Human beings are not built in silence, but in word, in work, in action-reflection. But while to say the true word- which is work, which is praxis- is to transform the world, saying that word is not the privilege of some few persons, but the right of everyone. Consequently, no one can say a true word alone – nor can she say it for another, in a prescriptive act which robs others of their words." - Paulo Freire