News

Refugees in Europe: How are community psychologists responding?

Webinar with Serdar M. Değirmencioğlu, October 27, 2020, 5 pm CET

Please register here

About the webinar

Mainstream psychology suffers from a number of biases (e.g., Eurocentrism, colonial approaches, individualistic assumptions, militarism) which make it difficult to relate to and work with the increasing number of refugees arriving in Europe. Moreover, the dominant service model in mainstream psychology focuses on preexisting expertise and competences. If the experts are lacking, then it is acceptable to say “Unable to offer services”.

Psychology students, for instance, are considered incapable of proper engagement and are, therefore, not asked to contribute. These biases need to be considered to grasp why mainstream approaches are not compatible with meeting the needs of the refugees. Community psychology appears to be uniquely well-situated to respond to refugees. An informal survey of community psychologists in 2019 indicated a willingness to work with refugees but a discussion of the existing barriers is needed.

About the presenter

Serdar M. Değirmencioğlu is a visiting Scholar at FernUniversität in Hagen, LG Community Psychology.


Interviewing Neighbors During COVID Brought Her Light “When Things Seemed So Dark.”

Just like everywhere else, COVID-19 came to the small town of Leverett, Massachusetts. And when the town went into lockdown, Jinny Savolainen wanted to do something meaningful. Quarantine was especially isolating for her. In 2019, Jinny lost her daughter. And when the pandemic hit, she lost her job. So, she sent an email to the town listserv asking if anyone wanted to record remote StoryCorps interviews about their life during COVID. StoryCorps is an organization whose mission is to record, preserve, and share the stories of Americans from all backgrounds and beliefs. These Leverett stories were then broadcast on NationalPubicRadio.

Portia Weiskel, a beloved town fixture for more than 50 years spoke with Jinny about a quirky quarantine tradition of a weekly howl at the Leverett Pond that started in lockdown and can be heard throughout the town. Mary Hankinson, a nurse at a long-term care facility, realized when the pandemic first hit how hard it was to access personal protective equipment. She coordinated a group of almost a dozen women who volunteered to make masks. They were hung on a rack outside the post office, where anyone could pick one up for free. Hundreds of these masks were made.

Image from Storycorps

Jinny states “I believe our grandchildren [and] great-grandchildren will want to know how we fared during this pandemic,” “I think they will be in awe of the way Leverett has come together, in the kindest, most humble of ways.” What started with one email ended in a collection of over a dozen interviews.Taken together, these conversations paint a picture of small town life and community during an unprecedented time. As Jinny put it, “Just when things seemed so dark, I found some light in the words of the people all around me.”

Story shared by Tom Wolff, from Massachusetts, USA.

More info here or at tom@tomwolff.com

Culture Delivery Service

Musicians had no possibility for events, shows and concerts and therefore no income during the lockdown. In Munich they were featured by the so called “Kulturlieferdienst” (Culture Delivery Service) organizing little pop-up concerts in the streets, registered as demonstrations for culture.

Kulturlieferdienst Munich

People had fun joining the spontaneous happening in front of their house, giving donations to the musicians.

The street stage is a real win win situation for everybody!

Story shared by Ina Laux, Germany

More info here or at info@lauxarchitekten.com

Call for papers: PSICOLOGIA DI COMUNITA’_1_2021

The role of collective dimensions in emergency times

Quarantine measures caused by COVID-19 sanitary emergency placed communities and populations in new and unprecedented situations and required huge skills to adapt to new ways of living private and public spaces, which arose risks bounded to social isolation and relational breaks. Relational networks, including social services supporting people’s life plans, have been hardly challenged.

As it happens in every emergency, the psychological impacts can be different in shape and depth and can bring different effects in community lives. Thus, in this specific emergency the collective dimension in the one risking more than others to get lost, as it could be mashed by the adherence to preventive norms aimed at protecting from the contagion risks. The built of new narrations and interventions, as studies and research papers referring to this recent emergency show, is to be added to this.

Thus, this call is aimed at understanding Community Psychologists’ reading of social phenomena and community ties which can explain the connectedness, closeness, and reciprocal support emerged during this pandemic. The attempt is to keep alive a vision about the interdependency among the different levels implied in giving meaning to these phenomena.

Re-thinking the interconnections between private, common, and public dimensions can contribute in grasping the meanings the sanitary emergency bounded to COVID-19 breakthrough has from several viewpoints. Have quarantine measures strengthened the berths to social and community dimensions? Which social impacts will it have on building a public opinion? Has what we mean as quality of life gone through any transformation?

Within this perspective, the analysis of community dynamics guaranteeing the success or failure of the policies adopted in several sectors – e.g., work, sanitary, education ones – and aspects boosting communities – e.g., social cohesion, participation, civic engagement, styles of responsible togetherness – are strongly needed with reference to this recent emergency.

Theoretical and methodological reflections about giving meaning to this emergency show that collective paths did not stop but rather shaped and enlarged during this time, to give strength and acknowledge traditional and unusual community competences. Indeed, the collective dimension played a critical role in guaranteeing the effectiveness of individuals’ and politicians’ choices (Jetten et al., 2020) regardless of sanitary solutions, on which future chances to contain contagion spreads will depend.

Communities are re-discovering their intermediate role in the closeness/distance dynamics between individual and social destinies. With reference to this, the call aims at welcoming social work professionals’ interventions giving concrete answers to old and new needs, which have been aggravated by the extraordinary and unprecedented challenge communities have faced and are still facing. What emerges is not a pro-gnosis or a dia-gnosis, but a RE-gnosis (Horx, 2020) meant as answers giving a totally new meaning to the capability to imagine and signify the future with reference to communities’ destinies more than to exact predictions.

All the contributions will undergo a double-blind peer review evaluation process, as requested by this Journal.  

Everyone being interested in submitting a contribution can preliminarily send an abstract to the Guest Editors (fortuna.procentese@unina.it; cinzia.novara@unipa.it) by September 20th, 2020.

The deadline for contributions submissions is December 30th, 2020.

Authors guidelines here

The 11th European Conference on Community Psychology – First Call for Abstracts

The European Conference on Community Psychology (ECCP) will be arranged by the European Community Psychology Association (ECPA) in collaboration with the Norwegian Psychological Association (NPA), The European Federation of Psychology Associations (EFPA) and partners. The conference will be held in Oslo, Norway, from 3rd- 4th June 2021, with a pre-conference workshop on the 2nd June. With this call we are inviting researchers, practitioners, students, activists, writers and scholars in Community Psychology, to present their work under the conference title:
What can Community Psychology do for Europe and beyond?
Social capital, competencies, values and critical visions for future communities

The venue
The Red Cross Conference Center in Oslo is a former industrial site, located right at the Oslo city center, close to the railway station and buses.
The warm atmosphere in these old brick buildings reminds us of the past, and inspires for future possibilities.
The «Dugnad spirit» is part of the volunteer movement in Scandinavian countries, and the Red Cross has first-hand experience from street level being one of the longest running NGO’s in Europe. You can study what the activities in Norway look like today in this video.
The Red Cross is a humanitarian organization committed to the fundamental principles of the International Red Cross and a guardian of the Geneva Conventions, building on UN’s principles of Human Rights.

Context of the conference
The European Conference of Community Psychology has a long tradition of gathering colleagues from all corners of the world, to share different perspectives on contemporary problems. The lessons learned from the pandemic are about to be evaluated and transformed into new ways of coping with the crisis and preventing the causes behind it.
More important than ever, we need to rethink normality, and find ways to transform communities to foster well being for all. How can we stay connected, and feel safe at the same time? In Oslo we are committed to ensure people health and safety and will provide physical and virtual meeting places to meet these basic needs.

Thematic tracks
Sense of Community, Participation and Inclusion, Competencies and training, Community resilience, Environmental engagement for climate action, Building trust and solidarity, Community memory and regeneration, Transforming communities and social change, Partnerships for community development, Migration, Social justice and gender equality.
The pre-conference workshop will focus on communities’ experiences in coping with the Covid-19 pandemic, chaired by Prof. Wolfgang Stark.

Aims of the Conference
We aim to promote and exchange Community Psychology among scholars, students, activists, volunteers and policy makers, and to create room for professional, social and cultural meetings. We have ambitions to present a diverse and relevant conference addressing the most urgent issues of our time. The activities should reflect Community Psychology core values and competencies. Community Psychology has over the past 25 years oriented itself towards a systemic view of social and psychological problems. By
integrating individual, group, community and societal levels of analysis, we aim to develop a value based psychology addressing the most urgent issues of our time.

Key note speakers
Proposals for key note speakers are currently being evaluated and invited. If you have proposals for candidates, please contact the organizing committee. Proposed Key note topics; “Peace psychology – ten years after the Utøya terror” and “Psychology for climate action as environmental engagement”.

Call for Papers
The conference will include poster and parallel sessions, online lectures and webinars. We also welcome submissions of film documentaries and proposals for new formats that enhance dialogue, interaction and critical reflection. The conference will be characterized by contributions in the form of oral communications, round tables, symposia, innovative sessions and cultural events. The program and sessions might be subject to changes.
The deadline for abstract submission and registration is 29th October 2020.
The link to register and submit your abstract will be open from September. Please submit your proposal here.
If you have any problems registering and submitting, please send an e-mail to the organizing committee: n.carr9@gmail.com

Hotel and accommodation
A list of recommended hotels and accommodation close to the conference venue will be provided with the 2nd Call for Abstracts in November. This link shows a glimpse of what Oslo can offer.

Conference language & publication
The conference language is English. All contributions will be included into the book of abstracts. A selection of these will be invited to publish in the Conference Proceedings.
Further possibilities for publishing selected papers in a European Journal are in progress. We wish you welcome to the 11th European Conference of Community Psychology in Oslo!

National Organizing Committee
Jonas Vaag, Norwegian Psychological Association, NPA
Ingvild Stjernen Tislov, NPA
Mona Cecilie Nielsen, NPA
Ole Tunold, NPA board
Kjersti Hildonen, Community Psychology section, NPA

International Scientific Committee
Cinzia Albanezi (Italy), ECPA president
Maria Vargas Moniz (Portugal), ECPA past president
Wolfgang Stark (Germany), EFPA SC liason to Ecpa
Nicholas Carr (Norway), EFPA SC of Community Psychology
Fortuna Procentese (Italy), ECPA board
Martina Barankova (Slovakia), ECPA board
Anna Bokszczanin (Poland), ECPA board
Francesca Esposito (Italy), ECPA board
Maria Fernandes-Jesus (Portugal), ECPA board

The conference is supported by
European Community Psychology Association
University of Bergen
European Federation of psychologists’ Associations
Norwegian Psychological Association, NPA

Mutual aid, climate action

Every resident in three abutting streets were connected via whatsApp, facebook or by door knocking. They kept in contact sharing things, ideas and experiences throughout the lockdown. One of the things that everyone agreed on, was the glory of the silence, the lack of traffic the breathable air (in the City), and the opportunities to discover what neighbours were interested in – who played the ukelele, who made jam, who ran a plant swop, who could sew, who could sing, who had a saw and who liked to run. Over time the joys of walking and cycling became clear.

Picture by I love Manchester

We held some Zoom meetings and conducted a survey to be sure of the interest in traffic reduction, and made an application to the Government to close the group of streets to vehicular traffic. Even if this is unsuccessful, the shared interest in traffic reduction that has arisen from the pandemic, is a good foundation for further resident-led climate action.

Neighbours knew who did not have (or use) internet – lesson – get to know your neighbours.
Given a reason to connect, people enjoyed the connections – lesson – find a common shared purpose.
Things (like climate action) do not happen without leadership – lesson – lead: and consider why not you?

Story shared by Carolyn Kagan, United Kingdom

For more info please contact at: cmkagan@gmail.com

Farming in the City

Many low-income neighborhoods lack nearby sources of fresh food. Frequently there are no large markets in the vicinity; residents must rely on foods available in smaller stores, which are generally less healthy and more expensive.

One strategy for addressing this issue is to persuade more markets to locate in the area – but often that’s hard. A different strategy is to teach residents how to grow their own food, right where they live. That’s the mission of the Urban Farming Institute (UFI), a Boston-based nonprofit that not only teaches farming skills, but also how to set up urban farming businesses.

Image retrieved from pixabay

UFI manages seven farms in Boston city, in the middle of low-income neighborhoods. Every summer, it runs two distinct courses: a 9-week course in basic food systems, and a 20-week hands-in-the-ground course in urban farmer training. Both fill up regularly. Each year 700 trained volunteers come to help do the planting, harvesting, and other farm work.

Over the years, additional program features have been developed: a separate Young Farmers Program; a virtual farm stand; public lectures, workshops, and discussions; videos; and sales to numerous restaurant partners. UFI is growing, and it is thriving.

To build strong communities, it helps to strengthen residents’ abilities to address and meet their own needs — and there’s no more basic need than food. UFI has shown how this can be done despite limited funds, but with a clear sense of purpose, a committed staff team, strong organizational skills, and the provision of meaningful benefits; food you can eat.

UFI believes that “any location can be a place where food is grown for local consumption, local sales and local distribution.” When this happens, economic inequities are reduced, and we have made progress toward a just and sustainable society.

Story shared by Bill Berkowitz, United States of America.

More info here or at Bill_Berkowitz@uml.edu

Children’s Leadership at Racial Justice Demonstrations

Children, and particularly children of color, are often those most impacted by injustice. But children have both feelings and opinions; and even young children can be quite capable of speaking out and acting in their own behalf.

Several recent worldwide demonstrations for racial justice have featured children, as participants, marchers, speakers, and sometimes leaders. Examples are a Children’s March in Brooklyn, New York, and a Peaceful Children’s March in Boston. In Brooklyn, according to news reports, “Dozens of children, from preschoolers to teens, took turns speaking at the podium, some using a step stool so the crowd could see them.”

Picture by Nick Sansone for The New York Times

It is difficult to measure exact outcomes of activities such as demonstrations, because their effects cannot easily be separated from other events. But some indicators of success are the media coverage that such events have drawn, which also calls attention to the strengths of children; these are both positive effects in themselves. An additional likely positive effect is the empowerment of the children who participated.

Children can be positive agents of social change. They are not just people to be loved and cared for, or future activists in training, but bona fide community assets who can be activated and empowered for causes that affect them and they believe in.

Too often, their strengths are under-utilized. But in the strong words of a Boston child demonstrator: ” I am a force that you can’t hold back. I am young. I am educated and I am proud to be Black. So the only thing I have to say to you is this: ‘Be prepared to be uncomfortable.'”

Story shared by Bill Berkowitz, United States of America.

More info here or at Bill_Berkowitz@uml.edu

Haiku on the Bike Trail

A paved trail runs through a suburban town near Boston. It is popular both for commuting to work and for recreational uses, such as bicycling, walking, and jogging; it’s used by thousands of people every day.
Some artists in town realized that the asphalt pavement on the trail could be a good location for art, for it was highly visible, eye-catching, and unusual. So they started a Bikeway Haiku contest – an open competition in which residents were encouraged to submit haiku (a Japanese style of poetry, with 17 syllables). The winning entries would be painted directly on the pavement.

Image retrieved from Arlington Public Art

Over 460 entries were received. Of these, 111 haiku were selected for installation. Two samples:

Are you still seeking?
This is the asphalt speaking.
Keep up the good work!

Hope for bicycling
Humbly gets us around town
While saving our world.

Volunteers painted the poems, using stencils, at individually-designated locations on the miles-long trail. Eventually rain and weather eroded the paint, which was expected at the beginning, since this was not meant to be a permanent installation.

The bikeway haiku were a source of pleasure to those cycling or walking by. Part of artistic creativity is deciding where the art can have the most impact; in this case, the planners chose their location well.

More generally, art can be a powerful community-building tool. It can elevate the spirit, and create connections between people through their shared experience. The Bikeway Haiku project also illustrates that art can be part of everyday life, available to everyone, and should not simply be reserved for galleries or museums.

Story shared by Bill Berkowitz, United States of America.

More info here or at Bill_Berkowitz@uml.edu

Kite Oxford Nairobi

In the last five months, we (a student led organisation) came together to provide food baskets to mentees families. We decided on redirecting our mentorship project funds at first to covid response, seeing that many of the families were in desperate circumstances with most losing their daily jobs as casual workers. The school counselor, the principal and gate keepers of the area assisted greatly in coming up with the names of the needy students this then facilitated our action in providing monthly food baskets to each family.

So far, we have been able to provide tonnes of food baskets to over 41 families who have an average 5 members living within the home since April to date. We have been able to spread awareness and support each of the families as we check up on their well being when we distribute the foods. Most are hopeful that things will get better while some of the mentees (children) are unsure of their education as schools have been closed with no assurance of opening up again until next year.

I’ve learned that its important to hear the need of the people, at first we thought covid might restrict us in meeting to discuss what the families needed most in terms of foods they eat. Another challenge was most families don’t have phones to be contacted easily, on this we just permanently informed them that we will be distributing the food baskets on first of every month at a particular time (11am) this helped us a lot. We also had to understand how to communicate better in swahili as most parents did not like speaking to us in English.

Story shared by Patricia Ojijo, Kenya

More info here or at patriciaojijo@gmail.com