Wednesday October 20th 2021

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‘Little Earth’ Archives

Little Earth Partnership Redefines Research

By SARAH McVICAR Reprinted with permission from Metropolitan State University’s Institute for Community Engagement and Scholarship In 2015, Metropolitan State Human Services Professor Roberta Gibbons and residents of the Little Earth community embarked on a rare, shared project that would impact them both in fundamental and enduring ways. Like Little Earth itself – the only Native-preference Section 8 housing community in the nation – the initiative was unique from the start. It began with a proposal for a small research grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to gather data about the drivers and causes of violence at Little Earth – and potentially secure a subsequent larger grant to fund community programming. At the heart of the project was the unique way in which it embodied its model of Community-Based Participatory Action Research (CBPAR) – what the Healthy City program defines as a “collaborative approach to research that involves all stakeholders throughout the research process...” and “aims to address the practical concerns of people in a community and fundamentally changes the roles of researcher and who is being researched” – or, as Gibbons describes it: “Research with a community rather than research on a community.” “This was a project that followed very true to the model of participatory action research,” Gibbons said. “Working with the community, focusing on action, you really learn more because there’s trust and investment. The impact of this kind of research can be far greater than research that is just about numbers and publishing – especially for the community.” Also central to the model was the convening of critical community stakeholders who have not historically worked together, including notably the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) and Minneapolis Park Police. “ [...]