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Minimizing the Negative Impact of Historical Trauma due to Systemic Racism on Gert Town, New Orleans, LA.

Build awareness of & minimize the impact of systemic racism & trauma on Gert Town, and build a community where residents coexist in peace.

Photo of Dominican Sisters  of Peace New Orleans Peace Center
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*Please Upload User Experience Map (as attachment) and any additional insights gathered from Beneficiary Feedback in this field

Our idea was initially conceived by the Peace Center. The Center itself and all its programming come from deep listening and perpetual engagement of the Gert Town neighborhood. Sisters live at the Center and work as fellow neighbors to transform the lives of those marginalized and oppressed by racism helping to build capacity to minimize the resulting economic/class disparities. They also communicate about racial division and oppression highlighting the resiliency of those they serve.

Why does the target community define this problem as urgent and/or a priority? How is the idea leveraging and empowering community assets to help create an environment for success? (1000 characters)

According to our beneficiary feedback, racism in Gert Town causes numerous interrelated problems including: lack of health care; reduced access to food & housing; poor educational options; greatly reduced job opportunities; limited access to justice via the legal system, generational poverty, violence, crime and abuse. Feedback also illustrated severely limited societal inclusion and access to community assets; this was corroborated by community assessment. To minimize racism’s impact on Gert Town’s potential to thrive and prosper we will leverage: existing community trust in project partners (DSoP & Xavier U); demonstrated resiliency of neighbors; existing relationships & programming; creativity & professional credentials of partners, and robust engagement in Bridge Builder process to help bring the undercurrents of racial inequity to the surface and build lasting communication/feedback channels so that healing and transformation can take place.

How does the idea fit within the larger ecosystem that surrounds it? Urgent needs are usually a symptom of a larger issue that rests within multiple interrelated symptoms - share what you know about the context surrounding the problem you are aiming to solve. (500 characters)

New Orleans and Gert Town suffer from racial disparity rooted in slavery. Racial attitudes cross generations & powerful influential forces resist change to the status quo. 67% of New Orleans residents are people of color; 11% 18+ do not have a HS diploma. African American unemployment is triple that of Caucasians. Low education employment opportunities are decreasing while regional jobs requiring at least an Associate’s Degree increase. Inclusion would result in widespread economic benefit.

How does the idea affect or change the fundamental nature of the larger ecosystem that surrounds it (as described above) in a new and/or far-reaching way? (500 characters)

Shaking the deep entrenchment of racism in individual & community life will help to create a healthier, more peaceful & prosperous Gert Town by building racial awareness/understanding and communication/navigation skills in areas including: cultural competency; hidden rules of economic class and generationally-held beliefs. Change will impact all facets of life in the community by empowering people, contributing to the prosperity & peace of the family/neighborhood for generations. edited 8/15/18

What will be different within the target community as a result of implementing the idea? What is the scope and scale of that difference? How long will it take to see that difference and how will it be sustained beyond BridgeBuilder support? (500 characters)

Initial impact will be improved effectiveness/participation in existing programming helping neighbors magnify resiliency & build capacity to lead more prosperous, healthy lives. Strengthened partnerships/alliances will lead to new offerings/opportunities for all. The effect on individual lives will be seen immediately; family & neighborhood transformation is a long term goal. Central to our design is built skills and widening perspectives, which can be not only lasting but multiplied.

How has the idea evolved or responded to your user research during the Beneficiary Feedback Phase and any further insights provided if you participated in the Expert Feedback Phase? (1000 characters)

The core of our project remained unchanged – helping our Gert Town neighbors heal from the trauma of systematic racism through dialogue that could also inform service delivery. Our thinking around the how we would plan, pilot, implement and evaluate evolved considerably as a result of the entire Bridge Builder process which significantly widened our field of vision and opened doors for new partnerships. At times we were pushed out of our comfort zone but were always ultimately satisfied with the chance to employ new thinking and creativity to solving the problem of systematic racism which is deeply entrenched in our neighborhood. All the feedback (Beneficiary, Expert, Comments on Profile) not only inspired us but moved us to ever increasing clarity. As we finalize our submission we find ourselves thinking about methods to share the fruits of our efforts to advance the work of others. More details about how our idea evolved are provided in the additional information section.

What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years? (You can attach a timeline or GANTT chart in place of a written plan, if desired.) (1000 characters)

Proposed is a 24 month project. The chart attached shows project activities that will occur by project month. Actual dates and people responsible will be added as process continues.

Describe the individual or team that will implement this idea (if a partnership, please explain breakdown of roles and responsibilities for each entity). (Feel free to share an organizational chart or visual description of your team). (500 characters)

The Dominican Sisters of Peace and Xavier University have initiated the initial design of this idea in concert with the Gert Town neighborhood. Additional partners have been uncovered through the BB process to date and the potential exists to involve other community stakeholders and those dedicated to minimizing the grip of racism especially in economically challenged communities. Other potential partners include those interested in a healthy, prosperous, peaceful New Orleans. Edited 8/9/18

What aspects of the idea would potential BridgeBuilder funds primarily support? (500 characters)

A $97,000 Bridge Builder investment would provide 24 months of planning & activity aimed at loosening racism’s grip on Gert Town. Helping to fund 3 main areas: project coordination/evaluation($47,000); neighborhood outreach/gatherings & volunteer recruitment/training($15,000); Racial dialogue curriculum and program services including neighbor skill and resiliency building($35,000). It is estimated that partners would invest $200,000 in services/materials to build and initiate this idea.

In preparation for our Expert Feedback Phase: What are three unanswered questions or challenges that you could use support on in your project? These questions will be answered directly by experts matched specifically to your idea and needs.

What are some evidence based translational methodologies we could consider using to integrate feedback from our dialogues into programming toward the end of the process? Help us understand better how our project translates to other forms of oppression globally? Can you provide us insight how we might better integrate the Bridge Builders process to ensure project success and impact sustainability?

Final Updates (*Please do not complete until we reach the Improve Phase*): How has the idea evolved or responded to your user research during the Beneficiary Feedback Phase and any further insights provided if you participated in the Expert Feedback Phase? (1000 characters)

Our team watched the 2017 BridgeBuilder cohort closely & was impressed by the results. During both the Beneficiary phases, our team evolved our idea by working through the steps necessary to launch it in Gert Town. The new feedback we received from those that would benefit from our project fit with that garnered from our neighbors, and the results of surveys conducted via social media mirrored feedback we gained from in-person interactions in Gert Town. People overwhelmingly were positive, expressing escalating need for this project and offering suggestions that confirmed our thinking about possible approaches. Expert Feedback helped us think through our strategies to ensure our interracial dialogue phase is able to transfer into magnified service delivery; identification/closure of service gaps, and a framework to ensure the sustainability of this program’s impact to help Gert Town neighbors advocate for themselves and their families. Edited 8/9/18

During this Improve Phase, please use the space below to add any additional information to your proposal.

While the Peace Center has employed a human centered design approach to initiating and carrying out all its programming, the BridgeBuilder Challenge provided an opportunity to cast our net even wider. Project partners considered new strategies to meaningfully connect with their neighbors to deepen understanding of their needs as well as garnering input in the design of solutions. Expert Feedback helped us to outline our translational methodologies during the Improve Phase to frame a process to magnify service delivery from the dialogues about race. We will employ culturally centered research practices to engage Gert Town residents collaborating with them on the outcomes of the racial dialogue and empowerment programming. We are in the process of considering new ways to test efficacy of service delivery programs particularly in terms of building resiliency against the trauma of racism. During this challenge we also considered new ways to work together as partners and uncovered potential new collaborators (Propeller, Mike Niconchuk – brain/body response to trauma neuroscience research ) and new methods to engage in dialogue (theater tools – Dr. Marnie Glazier). Having gained so much through interacting with our fellow BridgeBuilder applicants we began to think about ways we could share not only the results of our dialogues and how we used them to magnify impact but also make available the curriculum we develop/adopt to frame the dialogues on race on how we customized them by audience (age, gender, single race groups, multi-race groups etc.). While we did not specifically design our project around building bridges in the area of planet, comments pointed out that there were areas of our project that could produce results to inform others working in this area. Climate change negatively impacts those on the margins most harshly. As repeatedly indicated throughout our application this is true in Gert Town whose residents have suffered disproportionately from hurricane Katrina. As climate change produces more severe weather events the techniques and processes around dialoguing and service delivery this project seeks to develop and implement could serve others working with marginalized groups traumatized by natural disaster. Through the application process we also realized the importance of building a working language around the trauma racism and extreme poverty causes. The academic and medical studies around this kind of trauma are well documented. Indeed other BridgeBuilder projects and commenters on our application illustrated the traumatic results of marginalization in many settings, countries and cultures. Practiced skills in burying the impact of this trauma can make it difficult to articulate its role especially for older generations who may also feel greater social stigma around psychological factors/mental health. We appreciate the chance to comment here about the strong emotions talking about race can illicit from people from all backgrounds. People have different racial realities which can clash when dialoguing or encountering one another in everyday life. Unintentional microaggressions can cause roadblocks as can denial, avoidance and powerful social norms. Generations of oppression and even dire consequences for discussing race in interracial groups often make people of color wary. The value of trust project partners have built over decades cannot be underestimated in the ability for this project to create a safe space for dialogues about race. Lastly, we are glad to have the opportunity to express our gratitude for our assigned expert’s direction to strengthen the spirituality/faith dimension as a component of our project planning. Both of the main project partners are faith based organizations making this a valuable capacity to capitalize on to drive outcomes. This could be especially helpful given the courage required to engage in authentic, productive dialogue about race aimed at building resilience against the very harsh conditionals politically and socially. As was noted in our response in the comments section, along with the staff expertise at the Peace Center and Xavier University existing relationships with faith based organizations exist that can strengthen our work. Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of the shortlist

Note that you may also edit any of your previous answers within the proposal. Here is a great place to note any big final changes or iterations you have made to your proposal below:

As stated early we did not have any big final changes that caused any major course corrections. We did, however, significantly broaden our view, employ new levels of creativity and take a giant step out of our comfort zone. Along with forging a solid foundation this process allowed us to build various capacities that could be employed to not only implement this project but also evaluate it and share strategies with others to magnify their efforts to forge bridges of inclusion for those that are marginalized.

Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

1. To build awareness & understanding through interracial dialogue. 2. To create/deepen relationships. 3. To evolve services that build resiliency and reduce the negative effects of systemic racism, including interpersonal/community violence, generational poverty, education inequity, substance abuse & health disparities, in Gert Town (pop. 90% African American). Twelve years after Hurricane Katrina, Gert Town is still in recovery. Statistics indicate that 54% of people in Gert Town live below the US Census-defined poverty line: 35% do not own a car, 19% do not have a high school diploma, 71% do not have a post-secondary degree. These factors limit employment & opportunities to rise above poverty. Project partners The Peace Center and XUCOC have collected data identifying community needs from Gert Town residents, & are working to serve those needs & to drive resources into the neighborhood. The Dominican Sisters of Peace operate & live at the Peace Center in Gert Town. The XUCOC is located on the other side of the neighborhood, benefiting from its proximity to those served & the research & resources of Xavier University. Outcomes: •By engaging Gert Town residents and service delivery partners in trust driven interracial dialogue addressing internalized oppression and chronic stress, increase community participation by 30%. • By providing safe spaces to dialogue about race to inform related resiliency-building programs, empower those served with tools to understand, unravel and heal the trauma that racism causes, enabling Gert Town neighbors to cross the bridge from poverty to prosperity. • By surfacing the root cause of documented neighborhood needs, deepen relationships and evolve/expand resiliency-building programming to effectively empower residents to lead community-wide change through activism & action including: addressing blighted properties; holding town hall gatherings; staging neighborhood cleanup or safety programs. Edited 8/7/18.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

This program will benefit Gert Town residents of all races & ages, today & in the future, as a more peaceful community is created through interracial understanding. Schools, churches, government entities, businesses, employers, service providers & volunteers that serve Gert Town residents will be encouraged to participate in customized dialogues on race. Through enhanced understanding & strengthened relationships, these groups will be able to more effectively support residents working to free themselves from the cycle of poverty by providing programming that helps them overcome long odds. By involving many & diverse groups, from schools to public services, faith groups & government, of all ages & races, we believe that we can bring about inclusive community healing that recognizes the value of every person. This stronger, more confident community will be one where all voices are heard & peacebuilding is engaged for a brighter future. Edited 8/7/18/

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

The goal of healing the impact of systemic racism & historical trauma over generations is not new. What makes Gert Town unique is that the community has suffered the compounded trauma of long-term institutional racism, generational poverty & the lasting effects of Hurricane Katrina - one of the nation’s worst natural disasters. In a society increasingly divided among race & class lines, there is rising awareness of its insidious nature & a desire among people of good will to undo the damage & to build peace in the face of brokenness. While work to dismantle racism is often directed toward individuals & organizations, this effort seeks to involve an entire community and multiple generations. The project partners seek to build bridges through racial dialogue and healing, develop skills, and provide support & guidance for ongoing success. Project partners involved are trusted by their Gert Town neighbors & have a stake in the results as long-time members of the community. Edtd 8/7/18

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Initial Design: I am exploring the idea, gathering the inspiration and information I need to test it with real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Working with local partners, the Peace Center provides afterschool care & homework help to younger children, basic computer training & a job readiness program for adults, and socialization opportunities & food assistance to local seniors; the Xavier University Community Outreach Center provides food relief and monthly utility assistance as well as outreach services, such as art programs, homework assistance, literacy programs, and health assessments. https://thepeacecenternola.org

Expertise in sector

  • 5-7 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

Dominican Sisters have been part of New Orleans since the 1860’s. Sisters at the Peace Center live & work in Gert Town, have observed the damage that racism has caused in the city, & try to bridge the gap between poverty & prosperity. After Hurricane Katrina, we saw the inequity of recovery efforts & watched families struggle to overcome long-term systemic racism & recent trauma. We were moved to meet immediate needs & to help empower others to build skills for a more just & successful future.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

If peace is defined as “freedom from violence,” racism is literally the opposite of peace: it is a daily fear of personal, educational, health and economic violence suffered every day by the African-American residents of Gert Town. The long-term systemic racism in place in this community has created the related challenge of systemic poverty. Many residents work several low-wage jobs to “just get by.” Prosperity is unknown. A true examination of implicit bias by persons on both sides of the racial divide can lead to implementation of steps to cope with and eliminate that bias - creating an opportunity for peace. Even incremental steps towards a reduction of the negative effects of racism in Gert Town would assist in the first steps toward the attainment of peace and prosperity for all residents by reducing race-related violence and creating more just educational and economic opportunities.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

The Dominican Sisters of Peace have a broad network of groups to act as partners in this effort, including Dr. Cirecie A. West-Olatunji, Ph. D., associate professor at Xavier University of Louisiana and Director of the Center for Traumatic Stress Research, Xavier University; students at St. Mary’s High School; Mayor LaToya Cantrell; New Orleans City Councilperson J. Banks; New Orleans Community Foundation; New Orleans Police Department; Peace Center and local churches of all denominations. There are numerous like-minded groups in the city as well that could be tapped for their expertise. Gert Town residents are engaged and all ages are active in programming at the Peace Center. We have had small success with our homework help, job skills, summer camp and senior programs. A new focus would be programming aimed at implicit racism and bias.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

The greatest strength of this idea is the African American community in Gert Town. Residents are exceptional in resilience, even after centuries of institutionalized racism and institutional neglect. By focusing on Gert Town, the effects on peace and community/personal prosperity could be dramatic. There are quite a few people willing to work but unemployment is high because of lack of opportunity and skills.

Geographic Focus

Gert Town is a neighborhood in Orleans Parish, which is a ward in the city of New Orleans, LA, USA.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

The Peace Center and the Xavier University Community Outreach Center are blessed with numerous community partners with a wide range of abilities and expertise. Planning, coordination, and creation of materials to raise awareness of implicit bias will be an early phase of this project, as will be the expansion of existing programs. We expect this initial phase to require about 24 months.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

If Yes, how has project idea changed, grown, or evolved since last year? (2,000 characters)

NA

40 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Spam
Photo of Anubha Sharma
Team

Racism can exist in many forms, reading your project report made me realize that the poor in India suffer from the same problems of exclusion even though they may be technically of the same race. However we have realized that in every community well intentioned people exist who are willing to work for social good and we are using this to foster inclusiveness in society, see if our idea appeals to you in any way, we are happy to share details

Spam
Photo of Dominican Sisters  of Peace New Orleans Peace Center
Team

Anubha -
Thank you for your comment. Our team has also seen exclusion take place between people of the same race in our service area often around economic and social class though other factors are sometimes in play. Like you we are looking to leverage neighborhood "influencers" especially those dedicated to fostering inclusiveness. We would be interested in learning more about how you have used dialogue between and within groups.

Spam
Photo of Anubha Sharma
Team

I am happy to answer any questions you may have. You can write to me at anubha.axf@gmail.com or we could do a Skype meeting. Let me know. My I'd is anubha.sharma91

Spam
Photo of Macheru Karuku
Team

Your idea is just great! The racism challenge in Gert Town could be extrapolated to Africa. But I also note that this is happening despite the existing good legislation.
In Africa in addition to this we also have not only serious tribalism but also the other vices like clanism and nepotism. You can therefore see how your idea is crucial as it could also be applicable to other parts of the world. Best of luck.

Spam
Photo of Dominican Sisters  of Peace New Orleans Peace Center
Team

Thank you @Macheru. As a result of comments like yours we have strengthened our strategies to make what we develop usable to others.

Project partners have worked in environments outside of Gert Town. Our hope is to bring these experiences from around the globe to our work here. We plan to continue to collect feedback from in and out of Gert Town.

Spam
Photo of Waddah Fadul
Team

This is such an inspiring and important cause .. I wish you and the team nothing but the very best in the coming phase.

Spam
Photo of Dominican Sisters  of Peace New Orleans Peace Center
Team

Thank you, Waddah.

The Bridge Builder process so far has been very rewarding. We are grateful to have been included. The encouragement we have received from the comments has inspired us to be more creative and venture out beyond our comfort zone.

Spam
Photo of Pat Thomas
Team

Father Tom,
In order to "engage program participants, provide programming and expand needed services to Gert Town residents", what instruments for pre and post tests could we use for screening internalized and/or chronic oppression and/or stress? How could we find them?

Spam
Photo of Tom Smolich SJ
Team

Dear Peace Center Staffers,

Congratulations on getting to this point in the Bridge Builder Challenge. I am the advisor matched to your proposal for feedback. To others who read this posting: please feel free to add or disagree with what I have said!
I appreciate and admire your desire to do a "deep dive" into what is underneath the symptoms of poverty, exclusion, etc., the level at which most needs assessments take place. Looking at racism and the ongoing trauma that experience casts on Gert Town community members is a striking invitation to get at core issues. We can never solve problems at the level of the problems themselves; we must go deeper to get underneath them and understand them in that context. As to your specific questions:

What are some evidence based translational methodologies we could consider using to integrate feedback from our dialogues into programming toward the end of the process?
I am not an expert by any means in this field. Let me suggest three ideas.

1. Translational methodology has been most commonly used in health research, and this strikes me as consistent with the trauma methodology you are using. Perhaps Xavier University or some of their partners could get you access to researchers using this type of methodology in other public health issues. See ( http://evidencebasedliving.human.cornell.edu/2010/08/18/what-is-translational-research/), which describes institutions doing this type of work in similar communities. I notice much of your initial cited research is drawn from the Native American community. Would that be another source of translational research models?
2. To use program language, you want to this study and reflection time to yield outcomes. May I suggest that you relentlessly talk about outcomes from the word go. Often we settle for inputs (meetings held) and outputs (how many people showed up at the meeting). Much easier to measure... Go deeper.
3. In your proposal, I was struck by the lack of a spirituality or faith dimension as a component of the experience. There is a growing body of research on the role of faith communities in successful outcomes of social service/educational interventions. You might find looking at the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities worthwhile. (https://jliflc.com/)

Help us understand better how our project translates to other forms of oppression globally?
The best answer to this is to look at the proposals of other groups which have made it this far in the Challenge. Many are international, and they are dealing with the effects of structural racism and oppression in many forms. The community organizing dimension in several of them (SHOFCO's SUN project and Fambul Tok are two examples) are very insightful. Speaking of community organizing, you might connect with folks at the Micah Project in New Orleans; they are part of the Faith In Action Network (formerly PICO), which also works internationally. (Full disclosure...PICO was founded by Jesuits and I am a Jesuit...)

Can you provide us insight how we might better integrate the Bridge Builders process to ensure project success and impact sustainability?
I think your first two questions answer this question.
If you keep a focus on outcomes/applications of the research you do, you will be able to inspire the community itself to want and work for a successful and sustainable project.
If you consistently tie this work with the need for justice---not charity, people will ask for their place at the table, not for the crumbs that fall off of it.
Sustainability will always demand support from the outside. Staying faithful to this process will help you find folks/organizations who want to be partners with you, not just donors. Such partnerships can be more challenging, but I think are often more sustaining and enriching to all parties.

Good luck in this process, and keep up the good work.

Tom Smolich SJ
Jesuit Refugee Service

Spam
Photo of Cirecie Olatunji
Team

Tom,

Again, thank you for taking the time to carefully review our proposal and offer focused comments on how to strengthen our presentation. I have provided a thoughtful response to your first idea in relation to translational research methods. Here is my response to your third idea.

You are “spot on” to remind us to talk about the spirituality evident in the Gert Town community. While health researchers have shown that patients’ sense of spirituality has been useful in ameliorating pain symptoms with cancer patients and reduction of substance abuse among addicts, in general, there are some specific and unique aspects of African Americans’ sense of spirituality. For African Americans, spirituality is part and parcel of their resilience against very harsh conditionals politically and socially. Also, their sense of spiritually is culturally informed, shaped by shared views and values, across socio-economic classes and geography.

Additionally, the involvement of five different and distinct religious organizations of which the Sisters of Peace is only one (the others include a Catholic seminary and three churches (Catholic, Baptist and Methodist). Prior research exploring the relationship between African Americans and spirituality have suggested that this population has used their relationship to God to garner strength to engage in civil disobedience during slavery, the Jim Crow era, and the Civil Rights Movement, in particular (Ani, 1992; Cone, 1970). Additionally, several years ago, I received a grant from the African American Success Foundation to explore parenting practices among the parents/caregivers of academically successful low-income African American elementary students. The results of that study suggested that African American parents used their spirituality to deal with often hostile school personnel who were marginalizing the schoolchildren and, by extension, their parents (West-Olatunji, Sanders, Mehta, & Behar-Horenstein, 2010). Although we cannot be certain that the Gert Town residents will reflect the prototypical characteristics of an African American spirituality style, we anticipate that residents and other stakeholders in this community will articulate elements of the traditional spiritual worldviews evident in other similar communities.

Spam
Photo of Cirecie Olatunji
Team

Tom,

Thank you for your thoughtful comments and feedback on our proposed project. We are excited about diving into this work related to systemic racism in a community that has experienced historical trauma on multiple levels. Your comments are helping us to think more deeply about our proposed activities, especially our outcomes. I’d like to respond to your first of three ideas (on translational methodology).

As director of the Xavier University of LA Community Outreach Center, I am partnering with the Peace Center in Gert Town (New Orleans, LA). In my role as director, I collaborate with Gert Town community stakeholders to identify issues of concern in their neighborhood and assist in developing solutions with them, using the resources from the Xavier Univ of LA campus. My area is culture-centered counseling with a specialization in exploring the relationship between systemic oppression and traumatic stress symptomology. In order to engage in my research that is typically culturally situated, I have employed culture-centered or emancipatory research methods (West-Olatunji, & Wolfgang, 2017; West-Olatunji, Jean-Paul, Shure, Goodman, & Lewis, 2014). This approach is often found in educational research literature and is correlative to translational research in the health sciences. I have integrated this methodological approach in grants funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and published several articles in peer-reviewed professional journals, nationally and internationally. Additionally, I use culturally responsive program evaluation methods, having served as a fellow with the American Evaluation Association in (2015-2016). Both of these approaches allow for my team of researchers to reach a level of credibility and truthfulness in our findings that is otherwise often elusive and sometimes hegemonic.

Culture-centered researchers are asked to: (a) give voice to the lived experiences of socially and culturally marginalized populations, (b) go further than answering the research question to improving the lives of those being investigated. Researchers using this methodology practice “methodological activism” and take a stand on harmful social issues. Finally, culture-centered research methods highlight the researcher’s trans-subjectivity to bring transparency and (researcher) transformation to the research process.

Culturally responsive program evaluation involves: (1) diverse evaluation teams, particularly those that include representatives from the community and thus reflects multiple cultural perspectives, (2) engaged stakeholders and understanding that the social location of the evaluator is essential to credible outcomes, (3) the use of culturally responsive measurement tools, (4) an awareness of power dynamics (both within and outside of the community, (5) authentic collaboration with stakeholders throughout the evaluation process, and (6) the strategic use of qualitative methods.

Use of emancipatory research and culturally responsive program evaluation methods in this particular project will be especially useful in working with the Gert Town residents. This past year, we engaged in a clinical needs assessment over the fall and spring semesters, gathering data from observations, informal and semi-structured interviews. In doing so, we utilized a social justice-oriented application, MiRealiti, that allowed the data collection team to capture critical moments in the community and share them simultaneous and in real time with the other members of the team. We were also able to share our preliminary findings with community stakeholders at the end of the data collection period to receive feedback on our interpretation of the findings.

With our use of culturally responsive program evaluation and emancipatory research methods, we anticipate that the findings from this proposed project will be relevant to other communities nationally as well as globally.

Cirecie A. West-Olatunji, Ph.D.
Xavier University of Louisiana

Spam
Photo of Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO)
Team

Thanks for all the work you are doing in the Gert Town Community to address these issues rooted in racism. We hope you can help bring lasting change and create a more hopeful future!

Spam
Photo of Jaskeerat Bedi
Team

Dear Dominican Sisters of Peace null 
Congrats on making it in the refinement phase. Jean-Marc Mercy and myself are really rooting for your idea and would love to help your concept move forward. Also, really great job on cross-pollinating with other OpenIDEO community members through the comment section. Would love to see some of these great conversations materialize to impactful partnerships.

A design thinking tool, that we often use is defining your audiences. You can read more about it here- http://www.designkit.org/methods/11. Would love to learn more about who your core audiences are, how would you prioritize program and it's impact tailored to this audience, where is the impact most crucial. Are there any bi-directional relationships that you can leverage.

Look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Spam
Photo of Dominican Sisters  of Peace New Orleans Peace Center
Team

Hi Jaskeerat. Thanks for this great feedback. We just posted our User Experience Map which has more information about our audience. We will be posting some videos soon that show more of our team's clinical assessment work. Really anyone in the geography of Gert Town is part of our audience which we realize is a unique approach to the issue of racism as the neighborhood, like any neighborhood, is comprised of people with differing interests/needs, ages, economic situations, etc. We also have interest in reaching people that are involved with Gert Town to magnify potential for advocacy for the neighborhood and to provide networks for our work to multiply to areas that are grappling with racism and it peace and prosperity killing effects. Our team looks forward to working with the tool you shared.

Your question about prioritizing program is the heart of this initiative and one we have listed as an area we would like to discuss in the expert feedback phase. Our team currently reaches out to this neighborhood and has a track record of delivering real impact for individuals and families. Our team also robustly and perpetually collects beneficiary feedback about needs that could be met by the service capacities we currently have. As our User Experience Map shows when beneficiaries were asked directly about racism's impact it uncovered many of the needs we currently seek to serve however we have not yet holistically addressed the issue or the impact of implicit bias on our overall work. Our team followed closely last year’s Bridge Builder process and believe it would be a good fit for us to engage in this effort which more people are realizing is critical to peace and prosperity as racial tensions in the U.S continue to mount.

Spam
Photo of Mike Niconchuk
Team

Hello friends!

Mike here. I am a neuroscientist, and I study stress and trauma specifically, though most of my work is with young refugees in the Middle East. Obviously this project is timely, and filling a desperate need.

What is the actual intervention you are proposing? What will you be teaching people? Are they going to be following a trauma-healing curriculum? Learning about generational trauma as a concept? Doing healing work from a particular practice? And what is your working theory that links addressing trauma to a reduction in intergroup violence?

I ask because I think about these things all day and am always looking for good research collaborations to elevate good practices.

Many thanks, Mike

Spam
Photo of Dominican Sisters  of Peace New Orleans Peace Center
Team

Hello, Mike!
Up to now, much of our work has been "triage" - treating the results, such as financial inequity, disparities in educational opportunities, and localized violence. The work we do now, along with the discussions we have had with others in the area serving the same populations, has informed our desire to go deeper into this problem.
We wish to examine how long-term generational racism has created the trauma, how to identify and treat that trauma, and how to encourage resiliency among the populations that we serve.
As important, we see long-seated racism and implicit bias that is sadly, still prevalent in many parts of the country. How do we hold up a mirror to that issue, and illustrate the trauma inflicted on the community as a whole?
We know that violence in part of the trauma, as is limited propensity due to an unwillingness to acknowledge and utilize available talent due to racial bias.
We would be interested in your input on ways to overcome trauma and create a more equitable community.
To that end, we are adding you to our team. We look forward to your input.
Peace…

Spam
Photo of Mike Niconchuk
Team

Hello again!

I'm glad to be involved in your wonderful project in any way I can. At the moment, I'm working on a book about trauma. The book is called "The Field Guide for Barefoot Psychologists" and it is essentially a self-teaching and capacity building tool that summarizes, in an easy and accessible way, what 20 years of neuroscience research have taught us about how the brain and body respond to acute trauma, displacement, disaster, and adversity. It is also accompanied by a digital library of self-care resources, tested and validated scientifically, used for anxiety reduction and self-regulation. I'm happy to share the Guide with you when it is done, and involve you and your team in the process.

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Photo of Dominican Sisters  of Peace New Orleans Peace Center
Team

Sounds very interesting! So many of the people that we work with have undergone multiple of the syndromes you discuss - disaster, displacement, societal adversity. etc. We look forward to learning more about this!

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Photo of Marnie Glazier
Team

Beautiful and timely project!

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Photo of Dominican Sisters  of Peace New Orleans Peace Center
Team

Thank you! We believe this is a great opportunity to create a more just community.

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Photo of Marnie Glazier
Team

Yes, I look forward to hearing more about your work, and to potential collaboration.

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Photo of Dominican Sisters  of Peace New Orleans Peace Center
Team

Marnie - this is a project that requires collaboration from all parties! Would appreciate your thoughts ...please feel free to email me at dholleran@oppeace.org.

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Photo of Marnie Glazier
Team

I would love to see if there is a way I can advise - in terms of using theatre tools to help build briges. Also, feel free to email me at mglazier@hartnell.edu

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Photo of Dominican Sisters  of Peace New Orleans Peace Center
Team

Interesting! The arts are always a way to disarm and tear down walls... which of course, is the first step to building those needed bridges. I see from your academic profile that social activism has been a big part of your creative work. Have you done plays or videos around the topic of implicit bias?

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Photo of Marnie Glazier
Team

Thanks for asking. Yes, in fact I am working with a student group currently, on a show that we will bring to the Jersey Fringe Festival in New Jersey this summer, and implicit bias factors in rather heavily. In this case, the show is about water and climate equity and we are exploring the issue that environmental equity is social equity and exploring the ways in which the mainstream environmental movement has overlooked marginalized populations within the US, due largely to implicit bias.

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Photo of Dominican Sisters  of Peace New Orleans Peace Center
Team

Wow, that is so appropriate to Louisiana! So many people who live in the coastal areas are losing their homes to climate change, and because they are poor, (and because the Administration believes that climate change is a myth) their problems are ignored.
I really believe that theatre can help to disarm our defenses and more carefully examine our own beliefs and biases. I look forward to working with you!

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Photo of Marnie Glazier
Team

Looking forward to talking! Also, please look at this - group of artists and scientists seeking to raise awareness, and raise funding to address sea level rise. We just did a prototype performance and are hoping to do another, but this might be something you want to bring to your community. It would be very happy to connect you with Chaco Mohler who is one of the primary initiators of this project: https://climatearts.org/

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Photo of Dominican Sisters  of Peace New Orleans Peace Center
Team

Thank you! Let's see if we can make that happen!

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Photo of Hank Millstein
Team

Wonderful! I love the way you are working to empower residents who are targets of racism (I refuse to use the word "victims"). The organization I work for, which will shortly be submitting a proposal, has a program that empowers Muslim youth, who are often targets of harassment and bullying, to stand up to bigotry by training them how to speak for the faith and community.

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Photo of Dominican Sisters  of Peace New Orleans Peace Center
Team

@Hank - I look forward to seeing your proposal. Sadly, racism can be leveled against any group considered "other," and today's social and political climate has made such behavior seem acceptable, if not laudable.

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Photo of Dominican Sisters  of Peace New Orleans Peace Center
Team

@HankHow would you suggest that we respond to bigotry that is much more long-standing, as is the case with African Americans in the south?

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Photo of Hank Millstein
Team

Our approach to combating bigotry is education and encounter. Bigotry springs from lack of knowledge about a given group of people and lack of personal experience with them. We rely on the "contact hypothesis" of social science: that personal contact with members of a group that is the target of prejudice is the most effective way to dispel prejudice against and stereotyping of that group. This is common sense, but it's also been proven by research. So, for instance, to combat Islamophobia we give presentations on Muslims and Islam in schools and other venues by trained speakers who are practicing Muslims, thus providing both accurate information and face-to-face contact. Our work is focused particularly on religious minorities. Having said all that, I have to say that undoubtedly dealing with bigotry against African-Americans would be somewhat different; probably most people in the South have had some, perhaps much, contact with African Americans--but perhaps only in situations of subordination--and think they know something about them. What's needed is to arrange interaction between African Americans and whites that puts them in a position of equality. That's about all I can say on the subject, since it's not an issue we work with directly (though in fact many American Muslims are African-American).

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Photo of Dominican Sisters  of Peace New Orleans Peace Center
Team

Thank you! That sort of interaction is our ultimate goal ... but right now, we have much to do just to get past economic and social division.

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Photo of Ozuluonye Shedrack
Team

Hello,
Based on your team partners survey, what where the exact findings with regards (community challenges in Gert Town. Just wanted to match same with what your idea seeks to provide at end.

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Photo of Dominican Sisters  of Peace New Orleans Peace Center
Team

The most obvious, and the one that bridges peace and prosperity, is economic disparity. We believe that long-time systemic racism has depressed opportunities for employment, creating a cycle of generational poverty. Teaching our community how to identify, reduce and remain resilient in the face of this racism is the first step to breaking this cycle.

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Photo of Ozuluonye Shedrack
Team

Hello,
Many thanks, that's great. also Looking forward to learn more please.

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Photo of Angi Yoder Maina
Team

Hi Dominican Sisters of Peace 

The cycle of poverty, linked to racism, injustice, and community violence is so familiar to me. I work in similar communities in S. Sudan, Kenya, and Somalia. We have been working on developing trauma-informed programming which challenges systems and structures of colonialism, cycles of poverty, police brutality, the cycle of violence, etc. There are really great programs going on all over the US and Canada developing trauma-informed responses to many of the issues you described.

Trauma-informed programming includes:
•Understanding the physiological, emotional, cognitive, behavioral and spiritual impact of traumatic events (current or historic) on recipient populations, and how unaddressed trauma contributes to cycles of violence;
•Going beyond traditional mental health diagnosis and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder as the measure of trauma impact, and also recognizing community and societal dynamics and behaviors are indicators of unaddressed trauma;
•Identifying processes from multiple fields—human security (including economic security), conflict transformation, restorative justice, neurobiology, psychology and spirituality—which can address the effects of trauma and increase resilience; and
•Recognizing that addressing the psychological needs of populations creates the need to monitor staff for secondary trauma and to equip them with self-care skills and tools.

Doctors, schools districts, community centers, police departments are all starting to work together to holistically address the various issues. Trauma-informed approaches help to re-envision the ‘business as usual’ assumptions by challenging the status quo. God speed on your important but often overlook work.

warmest regards, Angi Yoder-Maina.

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Photo of Barbara Rapp
Team

Sounds like a great program. Offering help where help is needed most!

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Photo of Sydney Gray
Team

Hello! I actually also work for Propeller. We would love to chat with you and see if there's any synergy for partnership. We have a Neighborhood Business Coordinator specifically working on the South Broad corridor, which includes part of Gert Town. My email is: sgray@gopropeller.org

(provided, of course, we're not already talking to you!)

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Photo of Dominican Sisters  of Peace New Orleans Peace Center
Team

Just took a look at your website - you are doing some terrific work! Especially interested in the Racial Inequity Institute presentations - they seem like a great fit for our project! I will pass your contact info along to the Sisters at the Peace Center...looking forward to working with you!