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Creating a better future for communities through research

2007 4th Quarter

Nov 01, 2007

Greetings to Centre Friends and Colleagues...

Welcome to volume one of our new e-news bulletin! This is the first of many future communications in which you can learn about our current projects and initiatives at the Centre for Community Based Research (CCBR). You can read articles about our research findings, new developments in theory and practice, and a range of perspectives on important social issues. Our regular e-news circulation will serve as a gateway to our new website (www.communitybasedresearch.ca).

This inaugural volume marks three occasions for the Centre.

  1. Our 25th anniversary celebrations

  2. Our new and dynamic website

  3. Our name change from the Centre for Research and Education in Human Services to the Centre for Community Based Research (CCBR)

Our 25th Anniversary

CCBR has a rich history, dating back over two and half decades and developing from the modest beginnings of a few of passionate, community-minded social researchers in Kitchener, Ontario. As 2007 comes to a close, we see a unique and still growing non-profit organization that has built a strong reputation of leadership in community based research, community mobilization, program and systems evaluation, and innovation for social change. While the Centre has seen many talented staff come and go, and while we have branched out into many different areas of focus, one thing has remained consistent - our principles and values..

CCBR believes that solutions to social problems, or "social innovation", lies in strengths of community. Our work has always placed the potential users of knowledge, especially those who experience the most disadvantages in our communities, at the forefront of our research. Stakeholder groups play an active role in setting the research questions, guiding research projects, and using knowledge in a way that can yield community benefit and empowerment. Our goal is to promote stronger communities, social equity, and quality of life through generating action oriented research knowledge that informs policy and practices in community sectors and social life.

Our areas of focus have expanded over the years, leading to a wide array of projects in:

Workshop activities in CCBR's Community Room
  • Family Support & Early Childhood Intervention
  • Mental Health
  • Disabilities
  • Community Safety and Violence Prevention
  • Aging
  • Women's Issues
  • Health Promotion
  • Organizational Capacity Building
  • Youth
  • International Development

Our projects are similarly wide ranging, from small research consultations to large multi-site national evaluations. We have formed strong partnerships and collaborations with numerous nonprofit organizations, universities and colleges, all levels of government, and philanthropic organizations. As we reflect on 25 years of this work, we continue to be excited by the future possibilities derived from new community knowledge and new ideas for social innovation.

New name, new face

We feel our new name, the Centre for Community Based Research, does a better job and describing what we do (for the history of our original name, click here) We also came to a realization that the sheer volume of knowledge that the Centre has produced over thee years needs a better home, a place that is easily accessible, current, searchable, and fully integrated. This past summer we begun construction of a new website. We are launching our new name and website on October 31, 2007. The new website, at www.communitybasedresearch.ca, will feature:

  1. Fully integrated searchable content. Users can search our project database by content, theme area, report, or by research staff names.

  2. Case studies on innovation. For 25 years, CCBR has been a pioneer in social innovation. Our case studies section will introduce users to useful examples of our projects that showcase three of our core activities: knowledge production, knowledge mobilization, and community mobilization.

  3. Research articles and theory, exposes, perspectives, stories, and interviews. Our site will be constantly updated with new and interesting content related to our work.

  4. Individual project details

    . At any given time, CCBR is engaging in 15 to 20 social research projects. Our new site will provide much more detail about each project, how to get more information, contact information, and associated products and reports.

  5. Downloadable reports and presentations. Having completed over 200 different projects, we have a wide range of information, fact sheets, presentations, reports, tools and publications. These will be more readily available to our website visitors.

Featured Projects

Community Researchers at a CURA forum

At any one time, CCBR is engaged in over 20 community based research projects, ranging from from small, cost-effective grassroots studies to large, long-term provincial or national projects. Our project experience traverses a wide-range of content areas, including community mental health, health promotion, disability supports, cultural diversity, family support and health, immigrant skills, family violence and abuse prevention. Our team has the educational, professional, experiential background to support many different types of projects, including process and outcome evaluation frameworks, needs assessments, epidemiological studies, community capacity building initiatives, organizational sustainability, and skills-based workshops.

In each issue of Community Basis we will profile a current project to give our readers an idea of the type of work we engage in here at CCBR.

Project Title:
Community University Research Alliance (CURA): "Taking culture seriously in community mental health"

Our Partners:
The program is funded by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) (as part of its Community University Research Alliance program) and the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Project Synopsis:
Taking Culture Seriously is a 5-year research program bringing together a variety of university and community partners in Toronto and Waterloo Region. These partners will explore how best to provide community-based mental health supports that are effective within a multicultural Canada. The purpose of the program is to explore, develop, pilot and evaluate how best to provide community-based mental health services and supports that will be effective for people from culturally diverse backgrounds. Objectives include:

  • To build a framework and strategies for community mental practice that can guide formal services and informal supports to be culturally empowering.

  • To develop, pilot, and evaluate innovative demonstration projects that promote culturally-empowering community mental health services and supports.

  • To disseminate and transfer knowledge gained to mental health service users, practitioners (mental health, and ethno-racial service providers), students, policy-makers, and academics.

  • To model participatory inquiry and partnership research in building applied knowledge, informing new practice, and training diverse groups.

The research is intended to have relevance for the range of cultural-linguistic diversity within multicultural Canada. This program uses a Participatory Action Research approach (PAR). Participatory action research can be defined as:

"a research approach which consists of the maximum participation of stakeholders, those whose lives are most affected by the problem under study, in the systematic collection and analysis of information for the purpose of taking action and making change" (Nelson, Ochocka, Griffen & Lord, 1998, p. 885).

For additional information, please see our project website or contact Sarah Marsh, the project coordinator, at sarah@communitybasedresearch.ca.

Featured Article

Social Connectedness and Resilience: An Interview with Jack Styan of PLAN

Jack Styan, Executive Director of PLAN

In each volume of e-news, we present an research article, theoretical perspective, interview, opinion piece, or other written work related to the work we do and the social issues we are concerned with. In this issue, Jason Newberry, a Senior Researcher at CCBR, interviews Jack Styan, Executive Director of Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN), about his organization's approach to developing social networks for people with disabilities and how this approach links to the concept of resiliency.

In the most general sense, a person's "resilience" refers to their ability to survive, adapt, and thrive in spite of adverse circumstances or environments. The basic idea of resilience is familiar to us all in the many stories we have hear about the triumph of disadvantaged individuals over terrible odds to achieve success of some kind -- escaping poverty, abuse, isolation, discrimination, and many other overwhelming difficulties.

Witnessing resiliency, however, is lot easier than understanding how it is achieved. If you delve deeper, it becomes decidedly more complex. Why are some people more resilient than others? (read more....)

To be Free

I see the monarch butterfly
in the fall,
its fragile form
flitting from plant to plant
building up its resources
and support
for the long voyage south.

An incredible feat
for such a small being
My father once told me,
that as a baby
I had a collapsed lung
and he had watched,
my struggle for life
amazed that something so small
could have such a fierce desire
to live.

I walk down a room
full of those who like myself
have struggle for their life.
None willing to give up
and accept anything less
than all they could be.
It was not enough to exist,
they had to be themselves
to overcome.

In the Arctic
I met the Inuit,
and theirs was a way of life
walking among the ice,
and the barren expanses
not fighting nature
but learning to carve out
a space for themselves
in the most brutal place
on the planet.
They did not merely survive,
they overcame their barriers.

Once I came upon
a trap full of mice,
not checked soon enough
so all were dead;
in grotesque forms.
Some had eaten
their own fur,
not pretty to some.
to me a monument
to how much life was worth
even to this tiny heart
as it struggled to its final breath.
To overcome,
to be free.

            - Ed Hughes