Participatory Action Research (PAR) & the Food Movement: Issues, Ideas, and Insights


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This presentation to the Canadian Association of Food Studies Conference, Fredericton, NB (May 29, 2011) highlights participatory action research approaches, opportunities, and challenges relating to knowledge mobilization, advocacy, policy change, and ethical considerations for three participatory action research projects: NS Participatory Food Costing Project, Activating Change Together for Community Food Security, and the Atlantic Social Economy and Sustainability (SES) Research Network (Sub-node 3).

Panel Presenters: Patty Williams, Cynthia Watt, Christine Johnson, Debra Reimer

Hosting Team: Patty Williams (Session Chair), Barb Anderson, Doris Gillis, Rita MacAulay, Lynn Langille, Samantha Cohen, Satya Ramen, Heather Hunter

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Participatory Action Research (PAR) & the Food Movement: Issues, Ideas, and Insights

  1. 1. Participatory Action Research (PAR) & the Food Movement: <br />Issues, Ideas, and Insights<br />Canadian Association of Food Studies<br />Sunday May 29th, 2011<br />Session Chair: Patty Williams, PhD, PDt<br />Participatory Action Research and Training Centre on Food Security <br />Mount Saint Vincent University<br />On behalf of Partners of the Nova Scotia Participatory Food Costing Project, CURA Activating Change Together for Community Food Security and the Atlantic Social Economy and Sustainability Research Network <br />
  2. 2. Overview<br />Setting the stage<br />What is Participatory Action Research (PAR)?<br />Introducing three PAR projects<br />Examining challenges and opportunities related to knowledge mobilization, advocacy, policy change, ethics and power<br />Questions<br />Exploring insights, ideas, and issues through small group conversation<br />
  3. 3. What is Participatory Action Research (PAR)?<br /><ul><li>Critical paradigm of collaborative social inquiry
  4. 4. Historical roots in North (e.g. Lewin) and South (e.g. Freire)
  5. 5. Different traditions have emerged within a continuum – e.g. action research, cooperative inquiry, community based participatory research
  6. 6. Interconnected goals: mutual learning/education, action / change, and research
  7. 7. Core concepts – participation, knowledge, power relations, praxis</li></ul>Lewin, 1948/1997<br />
  8. 8. NS Participatory Food Costing Model<br />Purpose: To help build capacity for food security for ALL Nova Scotians by using participatory approaches to examine and address the accessibility of a nutritious diet<br />Objectives:<br /><ul><li>To engage individuals and mobilize communities towards knowledge and skill development
  9. 9. To collect and critically analyze evidence about factors that affect the accessibility of a nutritious and sustainable diet
  10. 10. To share the evidence by creating effective communications mechanisms
  11. 11. To inform and support healthy public policy development</li></li></ul><li>The Atlantic Social Economy and Sustainability (SES) Research Network: Sub-node 3<br />One of six research clusters of SES Network with focus on community food security (CFS).<br />To support Participatory Action Research that:<br /><ul><li>is driven, guided and approved by SES Project community partners;
  12. 12. involves university - community collaboration;
  13. 13. contributes to building CFS at multiple levels and with diverse groups;
  14. 14. benefits the social economy in Hants, Kings and Annapolis Counties; and
  15. 15. has relevance to/impacts on the wider social economy. </li></li></ul><li>Community-University Research Alliance (CURA): Activating Change Together (ACT) for Community Food Security <br />Aims to enhance community food security for all Nova Scotians. <br />Rooted in lived experiences, realcommunityneeds and innovative solutions…<br />…it amplifies and broadens conversation, research, and action to strengthen capacity for policy change. <br />
  16. 16. Participatory Action Research (PAR) & the Food Movement: <br />Issues, Ideas, and Insights<br />Knowledge Mobilization<br />Christine Johnson1, Dr. Doris Gillis 1 & Rita MacAulay2<br />1: St. Francis Xavier University, AntigonishNS<br />2: Capital District Health Authority, Halifax NS<br />
  17. 17. What is Knowledge Mobilization (KM)?<br /><ul><li>Evolving understanding of KM is emerging through practice
  18. 18. Little in reported literature
  19. 19. Concept central to collaborative & participatory approaches
  20. 20. Embedded as focal process within ACT for Community Food Security</li></li></ul><li>Knowledge Mobilization – Working Definition <br />…the process of getting knowledge into active service in the broader society based on a multi-dimensional and long-term research scale; it is political in nature, working to influence decision making and policy by getting the right information to the right people in the right format at the right time.<br />Felt et al. 2004; Jacobson et al. 2007; Levin 2008; ONF 2009<br />
  21. 21. What Knowledge? <br />Ways of Knowing & Knowledge Mobilization <br />
  22. 22. Opportunities<br /><ul><li>Aligns with PAR principles & best practices for building capacity for CFS
  23. 23. Enables use of knowledge to inform policy change for CFS
  24. 24. Encourages attention to power relations embedded in knowledge creation & sharing
  25. 25. Shares & expands our learnings about KM & CFS/policy change
  26. 26. Contributes to emerging literature, future research & practice</li></li></ul><li>Challenges<br /><ul><li>Understanding Knowledge Mobilization in PAR
  27. 27. Framing the work (conceptualization)
  28. 28. Scope of ACT for Community Food Security
  29. 29. Drawing boundaries between KM & communication
  30. 30. Critical to start at the beginning
  31. 31. Learning from/being responsive to needs of the project
  32. 32. Evaluation </li></li></ul><li>Participatory Action Research (PAR) & the Food Movement: <br />Issues, Ideas, and Insights<br />Advocacy<br />Cynthia Watt, Heather Hunter, & Patty Williams<br />On behalf of the NS Participatory Food Costing Working Group<br />NS Participatory Food Costing Project, Participatory Action Research and Training Centre on Food Security, Mount Saint Vincent University<br />
  33. 33. Nova Scotia Participatory Food Costing Project<br /><ul><li>Food costing has been conducted across the province in 2002, 2004/05, 2007/08, and 2010.
  34. 34. Engages individuals most affected by the issue of food insecurity
  35. 35. Data collection
  36. 36. Knowledge sharing
  37. 37. Generates info on the cost and affordability of a basic nutritious diet – used to inform policy change (i.e. increases to minimum wage and income assistance rates)</li></li></ul><li>Is a basic nutritious diet affordable in NS? <br />Reference Family of Four on Income Assistance (June 2010)<br />What’s Left? (-440.25)<br />
  38. 38. Is a basic nutritious diet affordable in NS? <br />Female Led Lone Parent Household Earning Minimum Wage With Three Children (June 2010)<br />What’s Left? (-448.40)<br />
  39. 39. Opportunities for Advocacy<br />Food Studies Research:<br /><ul><li>PAR approaches: bring “voice” and experience to research (i.e., story sharing).
  40. 40. Participatory Food Costing Project – a model for meaningful involvement/engagement of people experiencing food insecurity in food costing research</li></li></ul><li>Opportunities for Advocacy<br />Broader food movement:<br /><ul><li>Creates opportunities for self-advocacy
  41. 41. Shares knowledge
  42. 42. Builds awareness around the issues
  43. 43. Influence policy change, e.g., Healthy Eating Nova Scotia, Food and Nutrition Policy for NS Public Schools and Childcare Centres</li></li></ul><li>
  44. 44. Advocacy Challenges<br /> Varying public opinion around poverty and food insecurity.<br />“Choises??<br /> Mother of four says it all doesn't it? Like the saying goes, if you can't afford children then don't have them. Why not go after the fathers of these kids?? Get them to pay child support and stop expecting the taxpayer to keep throwing $$$ at you. Half my pay is lost to the taxman to keep the welfare crowd comfortable while at the same time I have my own family to raise and struggle with bills to pay. Remember it's the middle income worker that foots the bill for all these programs, and right now we are the ones overtaxed and trying to get by. Where's my break??”<br />(Online response to Food Costing media release story in The Chronicle Herald)<br />
  45. 45. Advocacy Challenges<br /><ul><li>Voice vs. Exploitation
  46. 46. Power differences exist
  47. 47. How to work collaboratively, respectfully, and authentically
  48. 48. Communicating complex issues in ways that resonate
  49. 49. Framed as a societal issue, not just individual ones</li></li></ul><li>Participatory Action Research (PAR) & the Food Movement: <br />Issues, Ideas, and Insights<br />Policy Change<br />Debra Reimer1, MSW, RSW, Patty Williams, Lynn Langille2<br />1: Kids Action Program and Apple Tree Landing, Canning, NS<br />2: Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness<br />
  50. 50. Policy Change<br />To build Community Food Security, we need to influence policy.<br />Dec 2010 Team Meeting<br />
  51. 51. Influencing Policy Change<br /><ul><li>Participatory Action Research builds processes around sharing knowledge long term.
  52. 52. Ensures support for building policy over time.
  53. 53. Informs and creates policy change.
  54. 54. Identifies and evaluates processes regarding impact on policy.</li></ul>… and social change!<br />
  55. 55. Personal Policy<br />Opportunities<br /><ul><li>Challenging personal policy encourages individuals to challenge other kinds of policy
  56. 56. Results in influencing food movement as an individual
  57. 57. PAR gives voice to personal policy</li></ul>Challenges<br /><ul><li>Involves struggle and resistance all the time – never stop working!
  58. 58. Makes the personal political
  59. 59. Personal dilemma: lack of personal choice</li></li></ul><li>Organizational Policy<br />Opportunity<br /><ul><li>Important to have leadership.
  60. 60. If you aren’t the leader, you need to influence that leadership.
  61. 61. Educate more people around the issues, why the policy is important, and to showcase the possibilities.</li></ul>Challenge<br /><ul><li>Opposition within the organization.
  62. 62. Working with families who are marginalized, results in constant justification – e.g., “You take what you get, if you’re poor!”
  63. 63. Takes a long time to change: importance of process & time.
  64. 64. Can lose people and organizations</li></li></ul><li>Public Policy<br />Opportunity<br />Brings voices of marginalized individuals to the table. <br />Involves community in a meaningful way (not just a token person). <br />Better policy: those living the experience involved in policy recommendations. <br />Part of something bigger. People see things happening, because the connection continues.<br />Challenge<br />Hard to keep people involved. <br />Support for real contribution and <br /> co-creation. <br />
  65. 65. Participatory Action Research (PAR) & the Food Movement: <br />Issues, Ideas, and Insights<br />Ethics and Power<br />Patty Williams1, Samantha Cohen2 & Barb Anderson2<br />1: Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, NS, <br />2: Acadia University, Wolfville, NS, Education & Training Working Group Host Institution<br />
  66. 66. Ethical Challenges & Tensions<br /><ul><li>Trust and respect
  67. 67. Power and control
  68. 68. Differences in perspective, </li></ul> priorities, assumptions, <br /> values, beliefs, and language<br /><ul><li>Conflicts over funding
  69. 69. Tasks vs. processes</li></li></ul><li>Ethical Challenges & Tensions<br /><ul><li>Time-consuming processes
  70. 70. When does “research” begin?
  71. 71. Who represents the community and how is the community defined?
  72. 72. Inability to fully specify all aspects of research up-front
  73. 73. Privacy and confidentiality
  74. 74. Data ownership and dissemination</li></li></ul><li>Opportunities: Researchers<br /><ul><li>Informed consent as an opportunity for dialogue
  75. 75. Protocols to ensure privacy/ confidentiality
  76. 76. Community involvement
  77. 77. Protocols guiding data ownership & disclosure
  78. 78. Balancing harms and benefits</li></li></ul><li>Opportunities: Ethics Boards<br /><ul><li>Familiarity with PAR/CBPR
  79. 79. Alternate ways of addressing the issues covered by current protocol forms
  80. 80. Concern with action outcomes
  81. 81. Revisiting ethical concerns once approval is granted
  82. 82. Need for training/education and communication tools</li></li></ul><li>Opportunities: Food Movement<br /> <br /><ul><li>Community and university partnerships
  83. 83. Strengthened capacity for PAR projects
  84. 84. Better integration of diverse perspectives and ways of working
  85. 85. Lessen disparities in food and nutrition resources
  86. 86. Inform and strengthen practice and policy</li></li></ul><li>Discussion Questions<br />What resonates with you from the sharing this morning? (What is giving you pause or making you uncomfortable? What is making you excited?)<br />What specific ideas or actions can you apply to your own way of working in the short term? In the long term?<br />
  87. 87. Thank You!For More Information…<br />Participatory Action Research and Training Centre on Food Security<br /><br />Special thanks to…<br />NS Dept of Health and Wellness and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for funding support for these projects.<br />