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Volume 53 Number 1 Winter 2020
Edited by Christina Smith, University of Chicago and National Louis University – Regional Network Coordinator
Greetings SCRA Members! The report reflects an exciting diversity of Regional activities, planning, and ECO conferences, which occurred during the fall of 2019. This issues also includes an exciting call for Solidarity, conference presentations, and collaboration opportunities for the The 8th International Conference of Community Psychology. Thank you for the support of the Regional, International, and Student Coordinators for all of your wonderful work and thoughtful reflections on your conference planning and convening experiences. I look forward to an exciting year ahead!
Greg Townley, Portland State University; and Rachel Hershberg, University of Washington-Tacoma
Written by Judith Zatkin, Julia Dancis, and Katricia Stewart, Portland State University
This year’s Community Research and Action in the West (CRA-W) Conference was a wonderful experience! We were honored as Portland State graduate students to be able to host this meaningful opportunity for connection on our campus. Beyond our campus, the 90 attendees represented five different states, and 19 institutions. We had presenters from as far away as Georgia! Our theme, Building Bridges, Not encompassed how we consider the process of sharing research and experiences, both at this conference and as budding Community Psychologists.
Portland State University doctoral student Julia Dancis talks with Dr. Brett Coleman, Assistant Professor at Western Washington University after his keynote address.
One of the highlights of our conference was the decision to have a keynote speaker, Dr. Brett Coleman. His keynote address, regarding engaging epistemological contradictions and varying meanings of “truth,” was deeply relevant both to our field and to the world that we live in today. We loved seeing Dr. Coleman’s words and ideas referenced throughout the day in different breakout sessions. Having such a strong beginning to our conference provided a sense of cohesion that fortified our goals for the day.
Another goal of the CRA-W conference is providing space for many different voices, including students (undergraduate and graduate), faculty, and community partners. A variety of presentations were submitted, ranging from examining whiteness to stigmatized sexualities (i.e., BDSM). This richness required flexibility in combining sessions, as to maximize how many different voices could be represented throughout the day. Though the combination process was challenging for some presenters, we were thrilled to see the creativity sparked in combining sessions, making connections across topics of interest that fostered a greater sense of community in our organization. We are thankful to our presenters for their accommodating attitudes.
One point of feedback received was that having simultaneous sessions was difficult, because it was difficult for attendees to choose which sessions to attend. We take this as a compliment to the great work presented at CRA-W. What a great problem to have! We have discussed making this conference a two-day event, which would allow for fewer conflicting presentations, more community building, and perhaps an easier conference for out-of-towners to attend.
CRA-W attendees gathered at the Native American Student and Community Center at Portland State University on October 25, 2019
Building on issues of community and networking, we received feedback about how to make the conference a more inclusive and communal space. First, our conference was located at the Native American Student and Community Center, which we were proud to support.
However, this facility did not have all-gender restrooms. We provided directions and a map for all-gender campus restrooms but understand that this scenario was not as inclusive as we hoped to be as a community. Second, we provided a sliding scale for students and faculty, but upon reflection believe that offering this conference free to all PSU students would not only bolster attendance, but also would serve our Portland community to a greater degree. We recommend advertising this conference as explicitly free for undergraduates at the host institution.
One final piece of feedback received was that attendees longed for more opportunities for networking and connection. We believe that hosting a structured lunch, with the explicit goal of making professional connections, could be successful in the future. Additionally, we saw the closing session as a missed
CRA-W attendees enjoyed dinner together following the conference.
opportunity for intellectual culmination and community building. With the weight of the day, this task may be difficult to execute. We recommend facilitating the end of the day as a ceremony, rather than simply a feedback session.
Overall, we are proud of all the labor that went into making this conference a huge success. Based on our feedback forms, participants were overwhelmingly satisfied with a conference environment that they felt fostered rich discussion and sense of community. We look forward to participating in the Western region for many conferences to come.
Links of interest:
Conference Website: https://sites.google.com/view/cra-w2019
Dr. Coleman’s Speech: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Ph-iX2XciYk3s-VCVWfM3Ih280xqDn9a/view
Regional Coordinators: Greg Townley, PhD, email@example.com and Rachel Hersberg, PhD, firstname.lastname@example.org
Student Coordinator: David Gordon, email@example.com
Melissa Ponce Rodas, Andrews University; and Tonya Hall, Chicago State University
Reading of the land acknowledgement
Written by Tonya Hall, Chicago State University; and Vanessa Goodar and Moshood Olanrewaju, National Louis University
Updates regarding SCRA-related activities in the Midwest are presented in this article. It features information regarding the upcoming Midwest Psychological Association (MPA)/SCRA affiliated conference 2020. This article also highlights the SCRA Midwest ECO Conference 2019. Moreover, useful information from this year’s ECO student conference planners, Vanessa Goodar and Moshood Olanrewaju, are included.
The 92nd annual MPA conference will be held on April 23-25, 2020 at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago, Illinois. The MPA/SCRA affiliated day of the conference is Friday, April 24th. Dinner is tentatively scheduled to be held at the Exchequer Restaurant following the conference on Friday. Additional information may be found at http://midwesternpsych.org/ . Please mark your calendars.
The event took place at the National Louis University campus in the city of Lisle, Illinois. It was encouraging to see and hear from so many diverse leaders, students and community members in the field of Community Psychology. The theme of the 2019 conference was “Strengthening the Village: Global Implications of Social Solidarity”.
The chief host, being an international student, was particularly attracted to this topic of social-global connectedness. Together the two hosts, the keynote panel on international issues, and a land acknowledgement reminded us of the historic displacement that continues to happen everywhere today.
The idea was to focus on community psychology ideals to bridge the gaps in our respective communities. The ECO 2019 keynote speakers, Leonard Jason, Olya Glantsman, Jack O’Brien and Kaitlyn Ramian presented their free online Community Psychology textbook, Introduction to Community Psychology: Becoming an Agent of Change, in which at least 20 instructors from 18 institutions in the US, Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Spain, and Japan are actively using the text in their classrooms. The turnout and the discussion among the conference attendees confirmed the importance of “connection” in this student-run conference.
The 44th Midwest ECO conference will be held at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul Minnesota on Saturday, October 24, 2020. Mark your calendars today. August Hoffman will serve as the faculty advisor. All students interested in organizing and hosting ECO 2020 may email Professor Hoffman at august.hoffman@ metrostate.edu .
Round Table Discussion
Written by Vanessa Goodar and Moshood Olanrewaju, National Louis University
Vanessa Goodar and Moshod Olanrewaju
On October 18-19, 2019, over 300 students, professionals, and community members from all over the Midwest and beyond attended the 43rd Midwest ECO Conference. The event took place at the National Louis University campus in the city of Lisle, Illinois.
In an attempt to be of assistance to the next generation of ECO organizers, we offer some points here to consider for next year. Every ECO Conference might consider beginning with building a village of hosts, faculty, and volunteers. Although this is a student-led conference, funding is not student-driven. Make sure to connect with your university’s department to secure help with the budget, hotel space, social event space, and conference location. Ask your professors and volunteers about what has worked for building the conference website, social media pages, and collecting electronic registration fees.
Google Docs was a fabulous tool that kept us organized with volunteer commitments, program scheduling, dietary preferences, budgeting, and other important details. Communicate with the committee via email, Zoom, cell phones and in person about what is wanted and needed early to anticipate any issues before the conference begins. Lean on your ECO team to help with everything from selecting student proposals, scouting conference locations, and taking photos. Team building and bonding is inevitable.
It was essential for us to do a Native-American land acknowledgement at our conference to honor the fact that our very gathering was taking place in Lisle, Illinois near the beautiful Morton Arboretum, and on Potawatomi villages in DuPage County. This land was once home to more than 40 tribes throughout Lisle, Chicago, and all of Illinois for at least 9,000 years before Europeans arrived. Remains were identified at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois in the 1970s. It was very important to make a commitment to using less materials, refill our water bottles, use compostable plates, knives, forks, and plates, serve family-style meals, print minimal materials, compost, and recycle. Wouldn’t it be great if we could remember this respect for the land and continue to find ways to make our community spaces become more ECO-efficient when we get together?
When in the planning process, balancing tradition with innovation is critical. The pressure is on to meet expectations and bring back traditions while also presenting research in new ways – yet always rooted in traditional community concepts. The committee decided on an Interactive Fire Chat for the keynote speaker panel. Students may want to get help from professors to get some suggestions for a dynamic keynote panel. Students should also reach out to their personal network for speaker recommendations.
The Co-Host facilitated a Fire Chat but added some strategies learned in Chicago’s urban education community. A Fire Chat is a guided discussion where audience members write down their burning questions about your selected conference themes on sticky notes (for us, Indigenous Resources, The Sharing of Power, Social Justice/Activism, etc.). Next, individuals placed the notes on large sticky chart paper labeled with each conference theme. After questions are collected, the panel host allowed the panelist to choose their theme and the host chose the questions. In the world of elementary education this strategy is called a parking lot and it was a lot of fun learning across education and Community Psychology. After selecting “parking lot” questions the host can pose the question to be answered collectively or individually. This method was engaging for the audience and created connection with the speakers.
Conference breakout sessions were in two formats; the village dialogue circles and ignite poster sessions. Village dialogue circles were an opportunity for conference attendees to discuss research concepts facilitated by students at various universities; concepts attendees otherwise wouldn’t have thought about. The ignite poster sessions required researchers to create traditional, large display posters and present the posted research findings. However, with Ignite, students were given 4 minutes (based on the total session length and the amount of posters) for discussion. A Q & A session was initiated at completion for all researchers to respond. This method allowed for ALL posters to be recognized and explained and not looked over based on the audience members’ preferences.
Be prepared to be flexible! Go over scheduling with a fine-tooth comb to be sure sessions are not double-booked. Volunteers are needed most of the day for registration, food set-up/clean-up, helping people find their sessions and any other details. Stay close to campus as urgencies do arise and use a communication tool like Remind to stay in touch. Stay calm and know that all the planning you did will be evident. Lean on each other and be a team player.
Food and Socializing
So, the best part of ECO Conference is community, tradition and the multi-cultural connections among students, professionals, and professors. Setting the tone for informal conversations and ideas is key. Our opening ceremony was an interactive African drumming performance. It was a wonderful way to smile, unwind and have a lot of fun learning something new together. Always quadruple check the conference hotel policy for noise levels, food, and alcohol consumption rules as they vary from hotel to hotel.
For Conference Day meals, we chose a local, family-owned small business called Ellie’s Deli. They understood the importance of talking and togetherness. Utilizing Yelp was very instrumental in finding a caterer that fit our needs, aligned with our values, and could meet the demand of all our dietary preferences. Choose your caterer and quantity wisely! We were able to minimize waste and maximize cost efficiency by taking our lunch leftovers to our bonfire closing ceremony.
The bonfire is a tradition of ECO Conference and is our last chance to exchange information, pitch that idea or add a new Facebook friend. Live music was added by two very unique musicians to express our cultural interests and taste in music. S’mores and informal conversation with many kids present around the fire increased our fun and celebration. Overall this was an amazing day of fellowship, reflection, connection, and comradery. I never plan to miss ECO now that I know the amount of planning that goes into it.
A Final Thought
Kudos and thanks to the many students and faculty who presented their research during the 2019 Midwest ECO Conference at National-Louis University. It was encouraging to see and hear from so many diverse leaders in the field of Community Psychology-Susan McMahon, Brad Olson, August Hoffman, and Yolanda Suarez-Balcazar. We learned so much about our village and ourselves. This opportunity is a catalyst preparing us for the next steps in academia and our careers. We hope that each year the conference has great success and propels student-leaders into community action!
Submitted by Midwest SCRA Regional Coordinator: Tonya Hall, PhD, firstname.lastname@example.org
Katie Thomas, Antony Street Specialist Centre
SCRA welcomes SUNKARA NAGENDRA KISHORE as our newest International Coordinator in Rajahmundry River City, AP, India! SUNKARA writes in her acceptance statement:
“Attending SCRA’s biennial conference helped me to refresh, recharge and rejuvenate, and enhance my knowledge of community psychology. I had the opportunity to interact with experts in this field. I am glad to inform you that I am working in this direction. I recently addressed Adikavi nannaya university, Rajahmundry, AP, India, psychology post graduate students elaborating the need, scope, and importance of community psychology and the role of practitioners of C.P. (as the president of SPRUHA Psychology Alumni Assn.). I am also taking up community activities as the president of Rotary Club of Rajahmundry River City, AP, India, and other associations, with collaborative programmes.”
Welcome SUNKARA, we look forward to your future work and leadership!
The 8th International Conference of Community Psychology will be held June 26-28 at Victoria University in Melbourne Australia. If you’ve always wanted to come Down Under this is the opportunity to do so! It will be a wonderful opportunity to develop global links with international colleagues The Conference theme is: Fostering and sustaining solidarities – communities, activism, knowledges & environment.
Conference conveners have invited speakers to focus on local expressions of global dynamics and to examine the unique localised impacts of broader, socio-political, economic and migration dynamics and ideologies that are giving rise to new and renewed local expressions of (dis) advantage and privilege.
The conference sub-theme of “knowledges for sustainable futures” invites participants to engage with critical theories and ways of working that have been produced in various countries and contexts, often referred to as the global south. Participants will have the opportunity to seek to understand how to advance community research and action towards its goals of liberation, community and wellness.
Other powerful sub-themes ensure the conference will celebrate and interrogate the ways solidarities are fostered and sustained within community contexts, across borders and boundaries and through processes of knowledge production.
The conference promises to be a fantastic opportunity to look at diverse critical epistemological and methodological tools and critical reflexivity. Hosts for the conference include Victoria University in partnership, Moondani Balluk Academic Unit, College of Community Psychologists of the Australian Psychological Society and Melbourne Convention Bureau.
For further information please visit the conference website at https://communitypsychologyaustralia.com.au/.
If you are a current SCRA member and would be willing to maintain a collegial support system in your region please forward your name and contact details Katie Thomas at email@example.com. This will be a great opportunity to set up some support and mentoring networks across the regions and will help us gain direction and momentum for the year ahead.
International Regional Coordinator
Dr. Katie Thomas: firstname.lastname@example.org, Antony Street Specialist Centre
Student Regional Coordinator
Megan Johnson email@example.com Queensland University of Technology
Nathan Medford firstname.lastname@example.org Murdoch University