Sunday, September 16, 2018

Our Workshop at the American Community Gardening Association - So What?

This week’s presentation at the ACGA pre conference was exciting and powerful. We shared our results and latest drafts of our workbooks. The ICBOs used the arts (song and cultural traditions) to present difficult and hard-to-hear results. We are a strong and wild group of individuals!

We had lots of wonderful responses to the four-hour workshop. One of our audience members who runs a community-based organization told us that she had experienced everything in our presentation first-hand - and she wondered how our work was going to change anything. 

The power of our work comes in using  community-based participatory research - to document what communities have known forever: the sciences are not equitable. Our work not only documents the problems, but we also share tools on how to create more equitable collaborations between STEM institutions and community-based organizations.

 - Photos by Marilú López-Fretts. 

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Our framework keeps evolving

When we started our journey as community researchers, the framework that we developed contained four main themes for creating long-standing partnerships and meaningful collaborations: Trust and Transparency; Power and Privilege; Realities and Relevance; and Commitment and Collaboration.

Originally, we believed that each one was distinct.

Below is the original framework:

Today, as our framework keeps evolving and becoming stronger, we understand that all of the themes are interconnected and all must be considered when developing and achieving more equitable long-standing partnerships and meaningful collaborations. The new image includes many of the recommendations that have emerged from our research.

Here is the new framework as it continues to evolve:

Our next stop is Atlanta, GA for the ACGA Conference

If you work within a community-based organization or with a large informal education institution and you are interested in “Building Meaningful Collaborations” this workshop is for you!

Join us at the American Community Gardening Association Bi-Annual Conference in College Park, Georgia from September 13-16, 2018.

Our pre-conference workshop will be held on September 13 from noon to 4:00 pm at Georgia International Convention Center.

Through humor, the arts, and storytelling we will explore the role of partnerships in the implementation of equitable environmental education projects in underserved communities.

Based on participatory research by communities historically excluded from the sciences, this workshop will uncover barriers and opportunities for achieving real impact in practice. 

Presenters: Bobby Wilson of Metro Atlanta Urban Farm, and fellow community researchers leading this work with The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Walking on Eggshells with Jose Miguel Hernandez Hurtado

Our research shows that community-based organizations don’t feel like they can be honest with partners when they see institutional racism. They feel like they are “walking on eggshells,” because addressing inequity might harm their organization or community.

In this video, Jose Miguel Hernandez, an artist and one of our community researchers, interprets one of the results of our research using body expressions.

Capturing Codes

Last summer we began our research coding process. Between picnic retreats and phone meetings, we discussed the patterns that emerged from the surveys. Based on the patterns found, we developed the four categories that we named Power and Privilege, Trust and Transparency, Realities and Relevance, and Commitment and Collaboration. Sister Sharon Horace, Jose Miguel Hernandez and Fanny Villarreal joined us in person on separate occasions to work on the codes, while other participated over the phone. Thank you all!

 Brigid, Karen and Marilu discuss the codes and share the information with the ICBOs over emails.

 Another time one of the community researchers, Fanny Villarreal, joined us in person to a picnic retreat.

 Bobby Wilson discusses with Karen the Robin Hood approach during the American Community Gardening Association's conference.

 Our regular meeting schedule with all the ICBOs.

 Karen and her son working in tandem.

 Marilu (not in the picture) in the company of Sunny.

 The four categories that emerged.

 Working it through...

 Coding process...

 Brigid Lucey diligently capturing codes.

 Our setting for our coding picnic retreats.

Our office for that day...

Working late into the night... during a power outage...

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Our video was recognized!

Thanks to everyone who voted for our video during the STEM for All video showcase May 14-21. Our video was among the top ten and received the Public Choice recognition!

We engaged in interesting public discussions which you can read at:

During the public discussion we had the opportunity to share with people around the world the amazing experience of engaging in community-based participatory research. We emphasized that this is a collective work. We developed trust after working together one year and a half.

We are proud that each one of the communities participating in this research are using the results in their own communities which include urban farming, healing through music, hunting/fishing, birding, etc.

We want to give a special thanks to the WorldBeat Center in San Diego, one of the community organizations leading this research, for producing our video.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Why have Informal Science Institutions not made significant advances in fostering equity, diversity, and inclusion in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)? Three years ago, 15 community leaders representing underserved communities throughout the U.S.A. set out to find some answers so we could better understand why implementing effective STEM programming in underserved communities remains fraught with challenges. They initiated community-based participatory research, using grounded theory approaches, and asked more than 30 community organizations to weigh in. The community researchers, participated in all phases of the research and collectively created a framework that highlights the following themes: 1) trust and transparency, 2) power and privilege, 3) commitment and collaboration, and 4) realities and relevance.

This work evolved from an NSF AISL grant project, Collaborative Research: Examining Contextual Factors that Influence the Implementation of Projects Designed to Improve Cultural Diversity in Informal STEM Programming. We call the group of community researchers “The ICBOs” (Independent Community-based Organizations). The ICBOs have collectively used their strengths and expertise to delve deeper and more meaningfully into community perspectives. They have led this exploration authentically and independently. 

Sometimes research approaches themselves can be part of the problem when trying to understand equity, diversity, and inclusion in STEM. For instance, even informed researchers may tend to use frameworks and literature that originate in the dominant culture to inform their research; ask questions that may not really get at the issues, and may leave underserved communities feeling as if they are being studied. These problems create an even greater sense of mistrust. Knowing this, the ICBOs wanted to lead research that would, instead, represent our communities’ perspectives.

Check out our video -- A Public Choice winner in the 2018 National Science Foundation Video Showcase:, where we discuss the preliminary results of our research.

Special thanks to the WorldBeat Center in San Diego, one of the community organizations leading this research, for producing our video. For more information about our work visit:

Monday, May 14, 2018

Institutional Racism

The ICBO research explores thoughts and experiences around institutional racism. Most community representatives felt that science-serving institutions were either "clueless" about how it is manifested in their institutions, or chose not to address it. Here is a quote from one of our interviewees:

"In the end, let's say you have programs for youth and all you see is white youth coming to these programs. That's institutional racism 'cause you didn't do anything intentional to support and provide the benefits for youth of color. It's not the intent; it's the impact. It's the outcome where institutional racism comes in. You can have the intent, on the front end, of "I don't want to be a racist," but you provide more benefits to white people than people of color. That's what institutional racism is. That's how it plays out within our system."

The NSF Video Showcase is live! Please share our video far and wide and encourage everyone to vote. And once again THANK YOU to the WorldBeat Center, Makeda, Berenice, and team for making it happen! 

Community Perspectives: Transforming Science to Benefit ALLCommunity Perspectives: Transforming Science to Benefit ALL

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Meeting in San Diego

The ICBOs (Independent Community-based Organizations) presented their findings at 
the WorldBeat Center in San Diego in March.

Jose González presented ICBO research results at the meeting.

Makeda Cheatom and Berenice Rodriguez presented the Premiere of the Culture Beat's 1st Baja Bird Festival Documentary produced by WorldBeat Center.

 ICBO research materials shared at the meeting.

 Music, beat and STEM come together during the African drumming class.

Our meeting in San Diego involved all of the participants of the NSF AISL grant: Examining Contextual Factors Influencing the Implementation of Projects Designed to Improve Cultural Diversity in Informal STEM Programs.  The ICBOs presented their results to group. 

Participants gathered to say goodbye after their last meeting as a group. 

Friday, March 2, 2018

Why I got here and why it matters

Thirty-year educator John Annoni, founder of Camp Compass Academy in Allentown, Pennsylvania, shares his passion for his work. John is a leading force when it comes to building bridges between outdoor culture and inner city kids from underserved communities. Through "hunting and fishing in the pursuit of Mother Nature," he brings his perspective to our Community Perspectives' research.

Our Workshop at the American Community Gardening Association - So What?

This week’s presentation at the ACGA pre conference was exciting and powerful. We shared our results and latest drafts of our workbooks. ...