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Participatory Action Research (PAR)
Action research or Participatory Action Research is a recognized form of research that focuses on the effects of the researcher’s direct actions of practice within a participatory community with the goal of improving the performance quality of the community or an area of concern. (excerpt from

PARTICIPATORY Evaluation and Research

Unlocking the power of knowledge for good

Participatory Evaluation and Research is a way of collecting information that honors,
centers, and reflects the experiences of people most directly affected by issues in our
communities. It is not so much a set of procedures as it is a philosophy and approach to
gathering, sharing and using information. It is also a way to strengthen community and
our understanding of each other, our relationships, and ourselves. It can be a powerful
tool for outreach, base building and organizing, helping to bring people together to build
movements for change.

Threshold uses a variety of participatory practices to tap the wisdom of your community
in order to build knowledge, assess impact and support justice. We have developed an
array of strategies that honor and tap the experiences and insights of those who are
most directly affected by issues within our organizations and communities.

Some of the ways we do this are through:


Polling and Surveying
Asset Mapping
Story Gathering and Story Swaps
Story Circles
Speak Outs, Tribunals and Public Hearings
Door to Door or Public Space Information Gathering
Facilitated Conversations
Public Sharing of Institutional Community Data

Publications and Articles:
By Alisa DelTufo
Community Building and Civic Engagement: A Case for Shifting our Paradigm
Domestic Violence for Beginners: (Writers and Readers Beginners Documentary Comic Book, 67) 1995
Catalyst Connections: “Reframing Evaluation as a Tool for Social Justice & Community Empowerment”

Oral History Organizations

Oral History Association:

Groundswell: Oral History for Social Change is an emerging and dynamic network of oral historians, activists, cultural workers, community organizers, and documentary artists who are using oral history and narrative in creative, effective and ethical ways to support movement building and transformative social change.  Groundswell is a space to leverage our collective experience, build and expand the field and support others to embrace and use these strategies and methods.

Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 40,000 interviews from nearly 80,000 participants. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to share, and is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. The
mission of StoryCorps is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives.

Everyday Democracy- A national leader in the field of civic participation and community change. They help people with different backgrounds and views talk and work together to create communities that work for everyone.

The Hoboken Oral History Project. The Friends of the Hoboken Library and the Hoboken Historical Museum co-sponsored an oral history project focused on “Vanishing Hoboken.” This project is designed to record, through interviews with long-time residents, business owners and workers, aspects of local life–cultural, industrial, professional–that have disappeared or are threatened because of continuing physical and demographic changes in Hoboken.

The Columbia University Oral History Research Office is the oldest and largest organized oral history program in the world.  CCOH is dedicated to building the field of oral history, and making our archives and expertise of use to the public. At the center of our work is our “living archive” of more than 8,000 aural and visual interviews that explore diverse topics in United States and global history.

The Center for Digital Storytelling Assists youth and adults around the world in using digital media tools to craft and record meaningful stories from their lives and share these stories in ways that enable learning, build community, and inspire justice. Our workshops assist participants in producing short, first-person narratives that can be presented in a variety of traditional and social media formats.

The Vermont Folklife Center- Preserving and presenting the cultural traditions of Vermont and the surrounding region. We document and conserve cultural heritage which could easily be lost; through exhibits, media, publication and educational projects, we bring recognition to the skills, talents and traditions of Vermonters, past and present. The VFC archive now comprises over 4.500 taped interviews, which have been transcribed and electronically indexed.

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