We offer training and consulting in research methods, practices, and evaluation, including assets mapping, ethnography, participatory-action research, and others with the intention of upholding and advancing the role & significance of culture and heritage in place and community. Recent work in this area includes:
Surdna Foundation’s Thriving Cultures Program: SFA is helping to build local, on-the-ground capacity for documentation, analysis, and research that leads to social impact in communities where Surdna’s Thriving Cultures: Radical Imagination for Racial Justice program funds are invested. Our methods and practice of ethnographic research: 1) Ensure decisions are made by the people most impacted by inequitable policy, invisibility, social and/or economic injustices; 2) Center first-voice narrative, community asset mapping, cultural celebration, storytelling, and other adaptive strategies as powerful drivers of social change; and 3) Lift up tangible and intangible cultural expressions as valid drivers of policy making and community development.
Arizona Creative Communities Initiative: We offered guidance to the Arizona Commission on the Arts and Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts (ASU HIDA), in an initiative supporting 9 teams representing Arizona cities, towns, and neighborhoods exploring how arts and culture can contribute to community development and positive community change. Teams received intensive training, one-on-one mentorship, and funding. Visit the AZCCI site to listen to podcasts about each of the projects. 2019-2020
University of Arizona Office of Student Engagement: We worked with the UA Office of Student Engagement to assess the landscape of student programs, courses, and projects that integrate community engagement at the university. Our findings offer recommendations for best practices and institutional support. We also carried out case studies of several such programs. Sept. 2019-Jan 2020
Nogales, Arizona: A rapid-assessment of community needs/assets/desires: We conducted a needs assessment in Nogales, Arizona to understand pressing local issues, innovative responses, and ideas for how the UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences might best use the Castro House, the former residence of the state’s only Mexican American Governor, Raul Castro. The house was gifted to the College in fall 2019. Our assessment also helped birth VozFrontera, an SFA program in Nogales, bringing arts and entrepreneurship to youth in that community, in collaboration with community partners and with funding from ArtPlace America.