Reflections on Past Symposia

Reflections on Past Symposia

BY JENNIFER MALAT

As we look forward to the symposium on March 1, I have been reflecting on the lessons from prior symposia. Last year, Yvette Simpson gave the keynote address. She explained that the journey to justice is neither a sprint nor a marathon. Instead, it is a relay in which we work with others to achieve our goals. Different people will carry the baton at various points in the journey. Her point resonates on many levels. For The Cincinnati Project, it reminds us that we have a specific role to play in our city. We should take the baton when the particular skills and resources of a university are needed. Others can rest and regroup knowing that they can rely on us for our part. We’re pleased to be trusted to help move the team forward.

Other important lessons have come from symposia. Two years ago, Patricia Hill Collins attended the conference as the keynote speaker. She responded to a presentation by asking how the UC researchers understand and manage their expertise and the expertise of the community members with whom they work. The discussion that followed was valuable, but time was too short to fully address the multiple layers of the question. It inspired us to organize a panel the following year entitled, “Power, Progress, and Partnerships” in which we spent an hour engaging with these questions. Christina Brown moderated a panel that included Iris Roley, Jeniece Jones, Shaunak Sastry, Farrah Jacquez, and Brian Calfano. Representing a variety of points of view, the panelists discussed how they manage power differences, which may change at different points in a project, and come together for a successful outcome.

I look forward to the lessons of this year’s symposium. We will hear from undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, and community activists. A panel will discuss objectivity and scholar-activist work; another will describe partnerships from first meeting to policy change; we will hear about completed research projects; and we will conclude with a call to action from women of color who are activists in Cincinnati. Their call follows a year of The Cincinnati Project amplifying the voices of women of color in Cincinnati with the exhibit “What Is and What Can Be: Women of Color and the Struggle for Justice in Cincinnati.” (The exhibit will be on display in TUC in the two weeks before the symposium. Check it out!)

Please join us for this year’s symposium. We are grateful for the lessons of each year’s symposium. We look forward to the insights that emerge this year.

jmalatReflections on Past Symposia
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UC Students Evaluate Program & Have Fun!

UC Students Evaluate Program & Have Fun!

BY LEYLA ASHRAF

Dr. Sara Williams, Scott Stoll, Dr. Farrah Jacquez, Dr. Carlie Trott, and a group of 14 University of Cincinnati students partnered with Parker Woods Montessori to implement and assess Dream It! A Playbook to Spark Your Awesomeness. The Dream It! Playbook was created by Dr. Sara Williams and Scott Stoll with the intention to teach children to become more aware of their dreaming capabilities. The goal of the UC student facilitators was to collect data from the participants from Parker Woods Montessori and track their dreaming progress through a pre/post survey, each chapter of the Dream It! Playbook, and a survey made specifically for this study. The study occurred over a nine-week period. Each week, throughout each meeting and chapter covered, we saw growth in mindset and hopefulness in most participants.

University of Cincinnati facilitator, Zoe Brown, poses with her token of appreciation made for her by a student in her group.

Having not worked with kids before, I had no idea what to expect. I remember being nervous before walking in on the first day of facilitating, but having that feeling be replaced by excitement as soon as I entered the room. All of the kids were happy to see us and to begin the Dream It! Playbook.

By the end of the program, each child in my group would volunteer to read out loud, which was something they struggled with in the beginning. They were always open to sharing their thoughts and dreams with the group. A lot had changed since the first day, for them and for me. After working together for nine weeks, a bond had been formed. On the last day of facilitating, one of my students told me she “wished she could put me in her pocket, so I could always go to school with her.”

The book’s authors, student facilitators, and professors after their Dream It! presentation at Parker Woods Montessori.

When presented with the course description a couple weeks before starting, I hesitated. Looking back now, I feel lucky to have been a part of this amazing study. Through this, I was able to work alongside many passionate people who all had the goal of supporting the children’s development. Working collaboratively on this created many great friendships and memories. I will always be grateful for this experience, the people I met along the way, and the impact it had at Parker Woods Montessori.

jmalatUC Students Evaluate Program & Have Fun!
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Women of Color at the Center

Women of Color at the Center

Women of color provide important leadership in the city of Cincinnati, working in all sectors and volunteering their time for a better Cincinnati. At the same time, women of color face a multitude of challenges, including an alarmingly high poverty rate, high rates of health problems, and other inequities.

At The Cincinnati Project, we have begun a new initiative in 2018, funded by the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, to raise up the stories from women of color as well as to reduce poverty and other disadvantages face by women of color. Working with community partners, we have launched a set of projects designed to benefit women of color either directly or by supporting the work of other groups with this goal.

Some of the projects will lift up the voices of women of color to tell success stories and describe obstacles to equality. Business owners and activists and women isolated by poverty will be featured in these projects. Other projects will help ongoing efforts to improve women of color’s lives. For example, an urban societies class will collect information that will help Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) reduce evictions in Cincinnati, a problem that greatly affects women of color. Another class will work to promote a business owned by a black woman, improve communication among neighborhood community councils, and help the Child Poverty Collaborative achieve their goals. Finally, our initiative will benefit from the research for the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). In this project, a group of professors is evaluating data on city employees for a study of gender, race, and other potential forms of inequality as a first step in the CEDAW process.

Because we do not want this research to sit on the shelf, we are making plans to bring it to the public. We have a design team who will synthesize this work and match it practical information. For example, women’s stories of activism and starting businesses will be shared in public spaces—we are still working on where and how—along with information about how to organize in your community or start a business. Look for more about this phase of the project during the summer.

All of this work will be completed and shared in 2018. We won’t stop doing other projects, but the projects partnered with women of color will allow us to focus efforts to demonstrate the power of coordinated efforts. We hope that our projects will support the efforts of All-In Cincinnati, the Child Poverty Collaborative, HOME, and other groups working on policy change and providing services that disproportionately support women of color.

jmalatWomen of Color at the Center
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Students in Public Relations Campaigns Class Assist TCP Partners

Students in Public Relations Campaigns Class Assist TCP Partners

“It’s important/beneficial for UC students to collaborate with [community] organizations because both parties can benefit. With my experience and tenure at Total Quality Logistics (TQL), I could provide the Civic Garden Center (CGC) with our marketing team so they can set up these volunteer opportunities. TQL is a company that I know firsthand loves to give back. My hopes for the CGC are that they do grow their volunteer and donations base with young professionals and I hope TQL can be a part of that community.” Samantha Clark, student

Every semester, UC’s Department of Communication offers multiple sections of a class entitled “Public Relations Campaigns.” This class is a final requirement for graduating public relations certificate undergraduates. Each class invites up to five community organizations to be semester-long clients. After meeting with clients the first week of the semester, students form groups to serve the clients for the duration of the semester. Each client has a dedicated group of five or six students, and those students spend their semester researching their client and its market. Then, each student group crafts a strategic communication plan for their client. At the end of the term, groups make formal presentations to their clients. In the process, the students learn about applied research, strategic planning, collateral creation, and persuasive pitching to clients.

PR Campaign Students work with the Support Network

In the years I have taught this course, my students have served dozens of local non-profits, start-ups, and small businesses. Over the course of the past year, The Cincinnati Project has connected me with several clients. Those clients include Churches Active in Northside’s Rainbow Choice Food Pantry, the Civic Garden Center, the Community Police Partnering Center, Holly Hill Children’s Services, New Life Furniture Bank, the YWCA LGBTQ Task Force, and the YWCA Anti-Violence Program.

With each project, my students and I have the privilege and challenge of learning all about the community partner’s organization, situation, marketplace, and communication challenges. This is an eye-opening experience for students, since it requires them to understand unfamiliar organizations and marketplaces. After doing original research for their client, students have to generate a comprehensive, integrated communication plan for their client. This plan may center on rebranding, building stronger organization-stakeholder relations, updating the organization’s social media presence, distinguishing the organization from its competition, raising community awareness of the organization, and more.

“It’s important for UC students to collaborate with community organizations because it makes the students well versed in the types of organizations that are affecting the community and it also gives them an idea of where they might want to work after graduation. My hopes for the Civic Garden Center are that they take some of our ideas, like the content calendar, and implement them into their company. I also hope that through all of these new implementations they in turn get more volunteers and more donations coming into the organization.” Abby Fordham, student

Although this is a challenging project for students, it leaves them proud of how relevant their skills are. It is also something the Department of Communication is proud of, since experiential learning and community engagement are central to our mission and identity. We are committed to equipping our students to serve the local community upon graduation. Working with The Cincinnati Project has been, and continues to be, a great way for us to stay connected to our community!

“This class was the most informative class for my future career. I’m currently working for an internship and I used what I learned in this class, towards my internship and talked about this class also for a job interview. This class helped me to truly understand what goes into a PR campaign and the steps you need to take in order to reach your end goal.” Ryan Ritze, student

cinciprojectStudents in Public Relations Campaigns Class Assist TCP Partners
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Building Connections on Campus

Building Connections on Campus

A couple weeks ago, we co-hosted an energizing workshop on community-partnered research for faculty across the university. The event grew out of a chat with the co-directors of the Center for Race, Gender and Social Justice at the College of Law.

Janet Moore, Farrah Jacquez, and Edie Morris take questions from the audience.

We noticed that faculty who partner with communities are passionate about their work, but the size of campus and time spent in the field make it difficult for them to meet each other. Faculty who know each other can share opportunities, support each other, and produce more research with a stronger impact.

We decided to organize an event that would help people get to know each other. We structured the day so that there would be many opportunities for sharing successes and strategies for confronting challenges. We also hoped students would attend the event in order to learn more about community-partnered research.

Discussion with all attendees at the end of the day.

Our efforts were successful! Approximately 45 faculty, staff, undergraduate, and graduate/professional students gathered throughout the day at the African American Cultural and Resource Center. We listened to experienced researchers talk about their work, shared lunch, and exchanged ideas in a large group. We left having met new people, with plans to stay in touch, and agreeing that we need to meet again!

jmalatBuilding Connections on Campus
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Reproductive Justice: A positive approach to Sexuality, Health and Human Rights

Reproductive Justice: A positive approach to Sexuality, Health and Human Rights

By Emma Fox and Juliana Madzia

Reproductive Justice is not a term that many people are familiar with. At least, this is how we felt when we enrolled in this Sociology 2099 class. We had some vague idea of what it might mean; we both had interests and experience in feminism and health, and thought maybe it would be a good combination of the two.  Upon first hearing the term, many may assume Reproductive Justice has something to do with abortion or birth control, but not much else. In actuality, abortion rights and access to birth control really just scratch the surface of the purview of Reproductive Justice. As this class set out to do, our definitions of Reproductive Justice have broadened to ones that are more inclusive, more intersectional, and more informed.

cinciprojectReproductive Justice: A positive approach to Sexuality, Health and Human Rights
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2016 NAACP National Conference Data Collection

2016 NAACP National Conference Data Collection

Brian Eiler, PhD Psychology student

As part of the Cincinnati Project, I was invited to participate in discussions at the 2016 NAACP National Conference surrounding police-community interactions. While my primary role was as a scientist, to help collect data to understand how police officers and members of local communities, my experience left me struck by the stories I heard and the emotions they elicited from me. By the time I left, I realized that although I can have empathy, understanding, and can fight to eliminate social injustices, I will not ever understand what it is like to be Black in this country.

cinciproject2016 NAACP National Conference Data Collection
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Reflections on my time as TCP Program Coordinator

Reflections on my time as TCP Program Coordinator

By Elaina Johns-Wolfe

About two years ago, I began my assignment as graduate assistant for the Kunz Center for Social Research, of which Dr. Jennifer Malat was director. The Cincinnati Project was only in its infancy at the time — more of an idea than a cohesive research center. Over the course of the next year and a half, it was my privilege to serve as its first project coordinator and to help it grow into a stand-alone research endeavor. As a sociologist-in-training, involvement with The Cincinnati Project enriched my education in the following ways:

cinciprojectReflections on my time as TCP Program Coordinator
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Reproductive Justice is more than just Birth Control and Abortion

Reproductive Justice is more than just Birth Control and Abortion

By Mary Siskaninetz ’19

Sociology 2099, a course on Reproductive Justice, has been the most life changing class in my college career so far. It made me realize that I do not just have to sit by the sidelines on issues about women’s rights and reproductive justice. This class was specifically important to me because it made me rethink my whole career. I never thought of pursuing or looking up a job in reproductive health. Now, I am considering changing majors in order to be qualified to do reproductive justice work.

I think everyone should take this class. Not only to educate people on reproductive justice issues, but to eliminate wrong and shameful misinformation that circulates American media and culture. Environmental, racial, socio-economic issues can all play into how you receive healthcare.

cinciprojectReproductive Justice is more than just Birth Control and Abortion
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Voices of Cincinnati

Voices of Cincinnati

By Steve Carlton-Ford

This past summer, I started to get involved with the AMOS supported project “Voices of Cincinnati.” That project is focused on identifying people whose voices are rarely heard and helping them identify their strengths and capabilities. Many of these folks simply don’t have steady jobs and steady incomes and need help getting into the job market. For others, English is a second language, a fact that makes adjusting to life in Cincinnati difficult.

cinciprojectVoices of Cincinnati
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