204183 Improving environmental health and creating engaged communities among Somali Bantu and Latino neighbors in Portland, Oregon

Monday, November 9, 2009: 4:45 PM

Stephanie Ann Farquhar, PhD , Associate Professor, School of Community Health, Portland State University, Portland, OR
Erin McNally , Josiah Hill III Clinic, Portland, OR
The aim of the Healthy Futures Collaborative (HFC) is to reduce in-home environmental health hazards associated with childhood respiratory illness and asthma through a process that strengthens social support and civic engagement. Using a community driven process, the HFC trained community residents as Community Scientists to ensure local leadership and participation, and aimed to increase Somali and Latino residents' knowledge of environmental stressors and reduce exposures to these stressors. The partnership lead is grassroots organization Josiah Hill III Clinic, and partners include Multnomah County Health Department, Lutheran Community Services Northwest, Somali Maay Community Organization of Oregon, METRO Regional Government, Somali and Latino community residents, and Portland State University School of Community Health.

This presentation will review lessons learned from a community-based participatory research project with Latino and Somali residents in Portland, Oregon. Especially when working with historically marginalized communities, a model that acknowledges power differentials and responds to community-identified priorities is a potent model for addressing environmental injustices. For example, the project was able to address both behavioral and structural components of housing and poor indoor air quality by providing workshops on greening cleaning and tenants' rights. Yet, the participatory structure presents unique challenges - including issues of representation, nonmaleficence, and distributive justice challenges that may be exacerbated in cross-cultural projects with multiple racial/ethnic groups. Additionally, when working with Somali Bantu communities, Somali religious and cultural customs must be wholly integrated and respected including patrimonial clan affiliation, gender-specific roles, and the historical milieu of Somali Bantu culture.

Learning Objectives:
Learning Objectives: 1. To identify specific cultural and religious considerations of Somali Bantu communities 2. To describe aspects of an effective model of participatory research when addressing environmental health stressors 3. To name and explain solutions to challenges of partnering with multiple racial/ethnic communities

Keywords: Environmental Justice, Immigrants

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am The researcher with the project and the university partner
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.