For more than 10 years I have made a commitment to community engagement through research and learning. A large part of this work has come from my involvement with the Association of Neighbourhood Houses. I was a member of the Board of Directors from 2009 to 2016 and the past President of the Board.
Community Based Research
Craig Calhoun suggests that social science would be improved through long-term engagement with community and the inclusion of partners in the development of research agendas and projects. I've taken this seriously in my work with neighoburhood houses. Since 2005 I have worked with a group of colleagues, both academic researchers and community partners, to explore the neighbourhood house model in Vancouver. The research is multifaceted, and the approach is collaborative. In all these projects, academic and community partners developed research questions, designed the projects, and collect and analyze data collaboratively.
In 2005, my colleague Miu Chung Yan and I examined the role of neighborhood houses in the settlement experience of newcomers to Canada. A recent paper based on this research examines the development of social ties through involvement in neighborhood houses.
Currently, I am continuing my research with neighborhood houses in three projects. First, I am conducting survey research with 15 neighborhood houses in the Metro Vancouver region. I have presented this research in Helsinkiand Berlin. I have also written research briefs on topics including social capacity, civic and community engagement, making connections, and social life.
Second, my interest in the history of neighborhood houses in Vancouver has led to my exploration of the movement's growth in the 1960s and 70s. I am writing about that growth with an eye towards the tension between grassroots community development and institution building.
Finally, I am analyzing awards given by neighborhood houses and the meanings they create about participation. This includes both content analysis and interviews with award recipients.
Community Based Learning
My work with the Association of Neighborhood Houses as both a researcher and a board member led to an interest in developing the relationships between the university and community partners. For much of this, I have worked closely with the UBC Centre for Community Engaged Learning.
Acting as a bridge between the Centre and neighborhood houses, I helped coordinate Connecting Community events in 2012 and 2013 to celebrate the partnerships between UBC and Neighborhood houses in Vancouver. These events provided a chance to recognize the accomplishments of these partnerships and to nurture future collaborations.
In 2013-2014, I served on the Community Based Experiential Learning Advisory Committee to the Dean's Office. This culminated in a CBEL Showcase event promoting the variety of experiential learning successes at UBC.
From 2012-2015, I served on the Chapman Innovation Grant adjudication committee. These grants provide students with an opportunity to develop and implement a project in collaboration with a community organization. The successful City Commons project resulted from one of these grants.
One of the most rewarding aspects of this work includes working with students. I have had the chance to work with undergraduate research assistants on SSHRC funded projects involving community based research, and supervised undergraduate students writing honors theses based on community organizations.