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Individual Accounts of SPSSI's Community Visits

Anderson J. Franklin, Boston College
The community visits were fantastic and very affirming of my work, career, and that of many others. It should be a staple of SPSSI's activities at all its conferences. The on-going need for advocacy in partnership with community is like Yogi Berra said – “déjà vu all over again.” I remember listening to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak at APA in 1967 about his hope that psychologists could do more for the civil rights movement. SPSSI had invited him. It took a couple of years after some horrific events for the APA to have, in 1969, a convention theme on "Psychology and the Problems of Society." We as a profession continue to struggle with an absent intrinsic motivation to address human welfare except when prodded by extrinsic events. Remember President Johnson's poverty program, initiatives launched by the Office of Economic Opportunity, Model Cities, community action programs, etc? Where are all the community-based models that came out of that era in our professional history, curriculum, theory, research, and practice? Think of the work of Reisman & Pearl, Kelly, and early social scientists like DuBois, and Allison Davis coming out of the U of Chicago school in the 1940's. There are models and paradigms of the past that can inform the present and future.

I applaud the arrangements by Michaela, the work of the Black Creek CHC, Jane-Finch’s Caring Village, the Wellesley Institute, and the York University partners. We met some wonderful, committed people. My concern is that our community foot soldiers may work in a belief that they are inventing the wheel. Let us not allow them to toil in the trenches without knowing there are still some good tools in the shed.

Linda Silka, University of Maine
I’ve been attending APA conventions for nearly 35 years. My wish? That this kind of preconference tour and opportunity had been available during all of those years. Too often we arrive at APA, attend sessions, meet our friends, but learn nothing about the community where the conference is taking place. The tour changed this. We learned first hand from the community partners. We were able to see engagement in all its complexities. Since the tour I’ve been emailing my friends and colleagues about what I learned and we hope to be able to do similar work.

Dana Sampson, National Institutes of Health
I had high expectations, yet they were surpassed! Entering the actual community, learning about thriving community-based research projects, and having an abundance of partners share their experience and perspectives offered tremendous enrichment.

Jianghe Niu, Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University
The deepest impression is that psychologists work together with community leaders, neighbors, newcomers, and volunteers effectively and cooperatively. The strongest feeling is such love that all community members give to their community. The freshest memory are photos on the wall [i.e., photo-voice projects on display at each site], each indicating a problem of the community, such as bicycles and kitchen issues.

Leo Kiu, Graduate Student, Carleton University, Ottawa
This SPSSI preconference (along with the rest of SPSSI conference) inspired me with great ideas and insights for pursuing applied psychology with a focus on establish community involvement. I want my research to be meaningful and applicable at a community level, and after participating in this conference and having many enlightening conversations with wonderful researchers, I have gained confidence to continue pursuing my academic goal. This wonderful preconference gave a graduate student the opportunity to recognize the power of community partnerships. I wish SPSSI the best in promoting community partnership with psychologists to improve community wellbeing.

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