184018 Community Knowledge Project: Círculos de Acción, Círculos de Salud

Monday, October 27, 2008: 1:00 PM

Erin Elizabeth Kent, PhD , Office of Cancer Survivorship, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD
Diego Solares , Program in International Studies, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA
Michael J. Montoya, PhD , Chicano/Latino Studies, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA
In this paper we argue for a qualitative method of community-based participatory action that is scalable and topically open by design. Through the Community Knowledge Project, an informal, cross-disciplinary group of scholar-activists dedicated to social change, we have begun to initiate dialogues in Orange County, California, among community members regarding perceptions of their community assets and challenges with respect to health. Our guiding premise is the understanding that communities possess knowledge of equal or greater importance than university-generated “expert” knowledge. Only if both sources of knowledge are equally valued can true partnership, between the academy and the community, occur.

We hold informal but structured “círculos de acción,” reflexive dialogues that begin with community insider-outsiders (those who work but do not necessarily live in the community of interest) and extend in subsequent dialogues to community insiders (those who do live in the community of interest). Participants from the former are asked to invite a peer to successive dialogues, an effort that stems from the premise that repeated iterations begin to permeate deeper into the community. Using these methods, we argue that allowing community members to define themselves and their issues of interest is necessary for initiating true community-based collaboration. We present the application of these methods in two case studies: (1) Santa Ana, CA and (2) a community health assessment in Valencia, a neighborhood of Fullerton, California.

Learning Objectives:
Describe advocacy strategies for community-initiated and community-based participatory actions. Identify sources of imbalance in setting community research agendas. Define new ways of approaching community-based research, including círculos de acción.

Keywords: Community-Based Partnership, Community Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a graduate student working with the Community Knowledge Project and in developing qualitative methods for community-based health projects.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.