Pacifica Community Psychology Faculty & Students Present at SCRA's 15th Biennial Conference

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Jun 15, 2015 2:40:00 PM

University of Massachusetts Lowell Campus ViewFrom June 25-28, 2015 on the campus of the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Pacifica faculty member Mary Watkins and students Jaime Arteaga, Peter Benedict, Karen Palamos,Lizzie Rodriguez, Peter Benedict, Jennifer Edson, and Laurie Kindel will engage and present to fellow attendees of the SCRA's 15th Biennial Conference. The Society for Community Research and Action (SCRA) is a division of the American Psychological Association, serving many different disciplines that focus on community research and action.

Here is the list of full presentations and workshops led by our faculty and students.

Towards Mutual Accompaniment: International Community Fieldwork and Research at Pacifica Graduate Institute by Mary Watkins

Through critically reflecting on the lessons of 20 years of community and ecological fieldwork and research at Pacifica Graduate Institute, a set of guidelines has emerged: to help insure that Indigenous approaches are valued over imported U.S. approaches, so that knowledge can be democratized and local modes of resilience can be strengthened and not undermined; to co-create with international partners dialogical conditions to reciprocally learn from US (etic) and Indigenous (emic) theoretical assumptions and models to carefully discern the kinds of interventions that are necessary for a particular cultural context or even whether they are appropriate for the context under examination; to encourage students to learn from practices and theories in their international fieldwork sites that can be useful in their home country, rather than see themselves implicitly as “missionaries” of U.S. community psychology. These emphases aim at a decolonization of psychological knowledge and practice, a democratization of knowledge, and the careful establishment of respectful dialogue that can result in mutually educative experiences. Irrespective of their initial intentions in entering international fieldwork and research, our experience has been that the U.S. community fieldworker is deeply educated by working abroad, and is often challenged to understand the role of the U.S. in creating many of the conditions that community psychology now seeks to address internationally. This awareness helps to join a focus on international work with civil society education and policy advocacy in the U.S.


Connecting Communities through Social Dreaming Matrix Workshop with Peter Benedict, Karen Palamos, and Lizzie Rodriguez

The purpose of this workshop is for conference participants to experience social dreaming by connecting with one another in dreamscape, an unconscious realm where latent material is brought forward for clarity and purpose. Through the sharing of the collective dream, the space between the individual and the shared environment coalesce, shifting the focus from the individual dreamers to the collective dream. Social dreaming seeks to explore what the collective dream may be communicating about the social and political context of the community. Long before Freud and Jung, dreams and dreaming held great significance for people in indigenous settings. Dreams offered a way of understanding meaning of their lives and the world in which they lived. This perspective regards dreams as more than the private possessions of the dreamer and suggests that by exploring the social context, the dream may help us widen our conscious and unconscious understanding. Cultivated by Gordon Lawrence in 1982, Social Dreaming continues to develop widely in many cultures, businesses, organizations, institutions, and conferences. Social dreaming can identify and help to understand unconscious content and their dynamics in a search for new perspectives and solutions. Participants are encouraged to surrender themselves to trains of thought without monitoring for importance, relevance, or sense making. Thus, linear thought processes are striped and surprising and synchronous thinking flourishes. There are no conclusions to this process, and the thinking process remains full of paradox, contradictions, doubt and uncertainty leading to what Lawrence (2005) refers to as “multi-verse” rather than a “uni-verse” of meaning. Artwork will be offered as an alternative method for participants to explore the collective dreamscape. Materials will be provided. 


Tapping the Potential of Webinars for Community Outreach, Organizing, and Research: A Skills-Building Session and Dialogue with Peter Benedict

The practice of community psychology can benefit from using webinars and other online learning and communication technologies to facilitate the process of collaboration and community building, for purposes including outreach, community organizing, and participatory research. With internetbased participation becoming easier technically, less expensive, and more popular, community psychologists can explore new avenues for their work that enable community members and colleagues to connect without traveling to meetings. Webinar features include video conferencing; presentation of multimedia including video clips, audio recordings, and slide presentations; and a variety of means of interaction with a live audience online, including polling, Q&A sessions, and face-to-face communication. At the same time, the technology has limits and is less than perfect. This presentation will cover how to set up and run a typical webinar, and include a tour of a webinar system, providing an overview of features that have potential application in community outreach, organizing, and research. It will conclude with a brainstorming session and open discussion on the pros and cons of webinars in the practice of community psychology.


A Freirean Approach to Working with Indigenous and Traditional Communities Workshop with Jennifer Edson and Lizzie Rodriguez

The purpose of this workshop is for conference participants to experience a model of facilitation utilized in indigenous and traditional community settings applying Paulo Freire’s conscientization, “a process of developing critical awareness of one’s social reality through reflective action”. Workshop Exercise: Tree of Mistrust / Tree of Trust Utilizing the metaphor of a tree, this exercise explores the concepts of trust and mistrust, while considering “root” causes, in addition to the consequences or “fruits” of such concepts. Once participant responses have been recorded on both trees, participants will break into small groups to explore what they can do to nurture and build trust in their communities. Finally, participants will re-join the large group to summarize their discoveries and debrief. This exercise is helpful for deepening the ability of participants to see how they may have played a role in promoting mistrust and ways they may shift or renew their commitment to promoting healthy connections within their communities. This exercise is currently used in post conflict settings such as Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, CAR, and others. Materials: Group Exercises, Resources/Links Sheet Facilitator Experience/Expertise: Jennifer Edson and Lizzie Rodriguez are Doctoral Students at Pacifica Graduate Institute’s Community Psychology, Liberation Psychology, and Ecopsychology program as well as certified Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities (HROC) facilitators. Lizzie is the Co-Executive Director of Conflict Solutions Center in Santa Barbara, CA and her current research is measuring the sustainable impact of Trauma Healing and Reconciliation workshops in post genocide Rwanda. Jennifer is the National Sales Coordinator for John Paul Mitchell Systems in Santa Clarita, CA and has been researching the efficacy of circle practices as a modality for strengthening the psychological sense of community within challenged environments.


Deportation of Mexican-born U.S. Veterans
A Poster presentation by Jaime Arteaga

Cross-Cultural Adaptation theory suggests that individuals will maintain a relatively stable and reciprocal relationship with the host environment in which they are currently living. For deported Mexican-born U.S. Veterans, this process poses significant challenges in that these men are in a country they consider foreign, in spite of having been born there. One major element to successful integration into a culture is the desire to become part of it. For many of these deported veterans currently living in Tijuana, Mexico, the strong desire to return to the United States leaves them feeling alienated and depressed, for their efforts are concentrated on their return and not on acculturating into the fabric of their new society. Other significant problems encountered by deported U.S. veterans are being unfamiliar with the vernacular lingo of the society, the Mexican culture of connections needed to land jobs, and the country’s unspoken ageism, keeps these men in their 40’s to 70’s unemployed or barely employed in a country with a base salary of around $300 to $500 dollars a month. Poverty, alienation, lack of privacy, and loneliness are among the companions deported U.S. veterans live with every day. This study involved interviews with six Mexican-born U.S. veterans whom were honorably discharged from the military but were subsequently deported for crimes ranging from misdemeanors to felonies. These veterans all live individually although they sometimes gather in the home of one of them, which sometimes serves as a meeting point for Deported Veterans. All six of these veterans have children living in the U.S., many of whom have broken ties with their fathers because of the shame of having a deported parent.


Creating Welcoming Communities for Unaccompanied Minors and Other Forced Migrants Roundtable Discussion

We are experiencing unprecedented levels of forced migration throughout the world, which will continue as pernicious forms of transnational capitalism, related violence and climate change continue to undermine communities’ capacity to sustain themselves. In the past two decades the U.S. has not only fortified itself against forced migrants at its southern border through separation wall building and concomitant militarization, but has suffered formidable xenophobic and racialized backlashes against immigrants without documents. Now with the unprecedented surge of over 57,000 unaccompanied minors from Central America in 2014 and the recent political wrangling over how the United States will respond to the growing crisis, the ways citizens engage with these immigrants is an essential issue for many communities. This symposium on creating welcoming communities for unaccompanied minors and other forced migrants will be initiated by two contributors: Laurie Kindel, a lawyer and psychology student who is representing unaccompanied minors in their legal proceedings and researching how the legal system might better accommodate these children; and, Mary Watkins, a liberation psychologist and co-author of recently published Up Against the Wall: Re-Imagining the U.S.-Mexico Border, who has worked intensively on border issues and with forced migrants from Mexico in Santa Barbara to create an oral history project about their experiences that could educate citizens. Focusing on the kinds of initiatives that are needed to create welcoming communities, as well as using examples of the initiatives currently in place in communities in the U.S, this symposium will create an opportunity for participants to share the work that is taking place in their own communities with forced migrants and collaborate on how to welcome these new community members.

-Creating Welcoming Communities for Migrants Without Documents, Mary Watkins

A two-year participatory oral history project in Santa Barbara in a Latino advocacy group, PUEBLO, resulted in the publication of a book that described the experience of Mexican neighbors to citizen-neighbors: In the Shadows of Paradise: Testimonies from the Undocumented Immigrant Community in Santa Barbara. From this research, Latino youth met with churches, schools, and community groups to raise community understanding of their experiences and challenges living without documents. From this work and research on how other communities approach creating a welcome community to forced migrants, a blueprint will be suggested that symposium members will be asked to contribute to from their experiences within their own communities.

-Welcoming Unaccompanied Minors: Community Approaches to Easing their Transition, Laurie Kindel

Many communities in the United States are faced with an influx of unaccompanied minors who have crossed the border from Central America. After fleeing violence and instability in their own countries, these children are now forced to navigate, unaccompanied, a complex legal system in addition to the network of social services available to them. While some communities have rejected these children, others have responded with initiatives intended to provide these children with much needed legal representation. The paper will highlight the approach taken by the city of San Francisco where there has been city funding in addition to volunteer efforts to ensure that unaccompanied minors have legal representation while making complex decisions about their legal status in the United States.

*This work will examine the different approaches with the goal of opening up dialogue with the symposium participants on how communities might better respond to this crisis.


Building the City by John August Swanson Students and faculty presenting at SCRA's 15th Biennial Conference are part of the Community Psychology, Liberation Psychology, and Ecopsychology Specialization of the M.A./Ph.D. Depth Psychology Program at Pacifica. This degree program specialization is a bold initiative to forge transdisciplinary and transformative approaches to the critical personal, community, cultural, and ecological challenges of our time. Accomplishing this necessitates a radical engagement in re-conceiving psychology as a potentially liberatory and restorative force in society, one engaged in initiatives to promote social, economic, and environmental justice, peace-building, and ecological sustainability. Download the catalog section here -->

Topics: Pacifica News, community psychology