Volume 50 Number 2
Spring 2017

The Community Practitioner

Edited by Olya Glantsman

Building Strength in 2016 for the Work Ahead

Written by Olya Glantsman and Nicole Freund

A Year in Review

In 2016, the Practice Council (PC) built on its strengths in order to gain momentum as members move into 2017 and the challenges that await community psychology practitioners. We describe these strengths in the updates that follow and share the new avenues for action that are being explored for 2017. Practitioner Connection.

Meeting Community and Practitioner Needs

Last year, the PC continued to provide starter funds for larger community interventions that engage local community members via the SCRA Community Mini-Grants program. In its 6th year, the Community Mini-Grants program funded a total of 10 impactful, small-scale, and community-based grants. A total of 25 reviewers were trained and 19 applications were received. The program has funded projects led by SCRA members in over 10 countries; and multi-year evaluation data indicates grants are impacting communities around the world and promoting the visibility of SCRA/Community Psychology. As we look to the coming year, small wins in community action will help mitigate more institutional difficulties caused by changes in the national conversation, and this program will be more important than ever. We are looking forward to helping communities do more important work in 2017. Peer Consultation Calls, continue to provide support to those engaged in community practice around the world. Callers have an opportunity to share their work with colleagues in similar and diverse domains, simultaneously giving and receiving ideas and assistance. This effort increases member growth and engagement while providing theoretical and practical support to participants. Pooling resources and convening people across both geographic distance and practice domains will be essential in efforts to sustain the social progress made in the last 40 years. The newly formed Welcoming & Recruiting (W & R) group aims to better guide and build connections with new and existing members of the council. The group develops strategies and processes to maximize member participation and engagement in the Practice Council as well as ensure that new members feel welcomed and find it easy to get involved. In doing so, we hope to promote connectedness among council members. Since Spring 2016, this workgroup has documented a list of priority areas to accomplish the overarching goal based on continuous discussions within the group and feedback from the larger Practice Council membership. Finally, many PC members continue to meet needs by serving as advisors for the Ask an Advisor service, sponsored by the Community Tool Box at the University of Kansas, in which advisors answer questions on community development from people all over the world.

Student Support

Practitioners start as students and supporting the next generation of practitioners is an important strategy for the PC. As a result of the ongoing conversation about the disconnect of undergraduate students getting involved in community psychology, the Community Psychology Association student chapter at Wichita State University was founded in 2015. An officially recognized student organization, CPsyA promotes membership growth and engagement as well as increases the professional presence of community psychology outside of SCRA. In addition to new work on a variety of social justice initiatives, they continue their work on sexual assault prevention at Wichita State University. The sexual assault project (an intentional mix of research and action) initially conducted focus groups with students and faculty and launched a survey assessing attitudes toward rape myths, evaluation of current campuswide sexual assault resources, and needs for additional/different resources. Focus group moderation and transcription were carried out by both undergraduate and graduate students, and data from both the focus groups and survey were presented at the Midwestern Psychological Association Conference in May of 2016, giving undergraduate members the opportunity to both attend  and present at the conference. In addition, two journal articles are currently in progress pertaining to the data collected, giving graduate students the opportunity to mentor undergraduate students through the submission process. Research on this project led to action in the form of presentations to Title IX Coordinator and other stakeholders, advocating for change with university administration and working to bridge gaps between community and campus services. In addition, last year, Wichita’s chapter pledged to support a similar chapter at DePaul University.

Visibility and Outreach

Practice Council members have been involved in the development of a number of books and publications this year. One example is the widely shared “10 Places Where Collective Impact Gets It Wrong” by Tom Wolff published in the Global Journal of Community Psychology Practice and a follow-up article in Nonprofit Quarterly. In its 5th year, the Community Psychology Practice Blog continued to facilitate a dialogue and interest around Community Psychology topics among a varied audience and raise awareness about the field and the people who do Community Psychology related work. Since the beginning of the year, there were 5 blog posts on a variety of subjects related to the field. The Outreach Group of the Council continued to generate monthly bulletins (called THEory into ACTion) on innovative work in community practice. These bulletins are distributed to the SCRA list-serv and other community psychologists, APA media outlets, and some community practitioners in other disciplines. They are also posted to the Community Practice Blog and were also re-published in the Global Journal of Community Psychology Practice.

Looking Ahead

Looking back on the successful past year, we cannot help but think about the future. What can we do to prevent the unraveling of what we, as a field, have achieved in the past 40-50 years? In raising this question and questions about how to sustain community development initiatives, the Practice Council has several ideas to pursue in 2017. Among these are creating an active network of community psychologists around the country to proactively gather information about the dismantlement of social justice protections, programs, or research in order to add to the compilation on or to partner with the Public Policy Committee on Rapid Response Actions. The PC is also considering information dissemination strategies and working on effectively communicating action announcements to the broader SCRA membership. The power of practice is in collaborating to act, using research and evidence based approaches to address adaptive, evolving problems. While current events make for challenging times, we are looking forward to using this power both in our successful, established programs, as well as in new projects. As always, we invite all SCRA members to join us as we work to sustain progress and the values of a socially just world.

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