Saturday, November 30, 2013

Black Friday's over, now it's time for Giving Tuesday

In the U.S., Black Friday is a holiday of sorts dedicated to the rampant consumerism that pretty much defines our nation. While there have been efforts to re-label this as a day dedicated to anti-consumerist sentiment, or to use it to draw attention to unfair labor practices, it is still overwhelmingly known as a day for shopping. And because the American appetite for post-Thanksgiving shopping insanity could not be sated with merely one day, Black Friday is now followed by a host of other Days With Names, such as Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Adding a new twist to this potentially tiresome tradition is a growing campaign to brand a new day: Giving Tuesday.

The #unselfie is another piece of the #GivingTuesday effort
This is how Giving Tuesday is described by those promoting it: "In the same way that retail stores take part in Black Friday, we want the giving community to come together for #GivingTuesday. We ask that partners create and commit to a project for/on #GivingTuesday and then help spread the word to their networks."

Giving Tuesday was launched in December 2012, and early evaluation comparing donations made in the U.S. on the first "Giving Tuesday" with those made the same day the previous year indicate it may be having a substantial impact on charitable giving. This year, part of the promotion includes trying to encourage people to post #unselfies, variations on the  self-centered photos that typically saturate social media, with a more altruistic bent.

Along with "Giving Tuesday," there is a similar effort to re-brand the Tuesday following Cyber Monday as "Fair Tuesday," dedicated to encourage fair trade / ethical gift giving. Those who want to combine ethical gift giving with charitable giving may be able to do so through various methods, including a relatively new site called ProBueno. Pro Bueno is all about giving people a forum to share pro bono services and goods. The twist is that these are also “por bueno,” in that people promise to share their skills in exchange for a donation to their favorite charity. So you can buy guitar lessons or order homemade pumpkin cookies while supporting nonprofit organizations.

Though you’re not really getting these services pro bono, they tend to cost less than similar services would otherwise (not quite as cheap as places like fiverr, but a good value nonetheless). Additionally, the fact that it is all being done for non-profits lends a sort of instant trustworthiness to the transaction. Those receiving services know that the donors have no selfish motives, while those donating services know that they’re able to contribute to their favorite charity by doing something that comes easily to them. The instant trust means that there’s not only a trade of human capital for economic capital, but also the production of social capital.

This site, and these various efforts, are not meant to foster large-scale change or  undo the damage wrought by a culture that puts money above humanity. However, to the extent that they enable an alternative vision of the "season of giving" than the countless media images of people lined up in front of big box stores to buy discount TVs, then I can only see it as a positive development. So, happy holidays, and happy #GivingTuesday to all. 

Gina Cardazone
University of Hawaii at Manoa 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Growing Up in the Shadows: How Unauthorized Status Puts Immigrant Youth at Risk

Growing Up in the Shadows: How Unauthorized Status Puts Immigrant Youth at Risk 

What are the implications of growing up in the shadows of our society?

In her article, the author explores the fates of over a million young people who live in the United States without formal documentation. Among other things, Dr. Suárez-Orozco discusses possible developmental implications and complications for unauthorized young people. The author goes further to provide suggested readings on the topic as well as a link to the APA’s “UNDOCUMENTED AMERICANS” video.

You can read this article on the Psychology Benefits Society Blog

Friday, November 8, 2013

Ask an Advisor: How to contact a policy maker

Ask an Advisor featured question, by Nate Israel

      Ask an Advisor is a feature from the Community Tool Box in which anyone around the world seeking for advice regarding community work, could find a brief and personalized response. For this week’s post, we feature the following question:

QuestionHello, I am taking a healthcare policy class and I would like to know how to contact a policy maker with regards to my policy issue/request. What office do I call on the local level to get an appointment with a policy maker. Thank you 

AnswerThis is a great question. We all want to be able to figure out how to make an impact, and talking to local policymakers is one potential way to make an impact in a local community. In order to get the most out of your interaction, there are some things you can do ahead of making contact. The first thing is to figure out to whom your policy perspective matters. Public health departments, particularly in large cities, are often tremendously varied in their responsibilities. Employees’ responsibilities often range from prevention to intervention, and the areas of concern may range from ensuring animal welfare to preventing cancer to administering publicly-funded hospitals. Understanding the structure of the department, and targeting your request for an audience to the person(s) for whom the policy is most relevant, will help insure that all parties gain from the interaction. The second is to be clear about what you are offering. Officials in policy capacities are often very considerably under-resourced. Be clear about what you are offering. For example, you may be offering direct feedback on a policy’s effects in the community, access to a previously unknown resource for implementing a policy, or a summary of information about the potential usefulness of a new policy in your community (among myriad possibilities). Once you have clarified your intended audience and your message, contacting the policy official is relatively easy. Nearly all public officials have their contact information available on the public website of the appropriate department. Alternately, you can call the department directly and ask for the person’s contact information. E-mail contact is often very useful; it allows you to succinctly introduce yourself and describe the nature of your preferred contact. It also allows you to forward along any materials germane to the meeting. This may be especially helpful if the policymaker is particularly pressed for time. All the best as you move forward with this.


To submit a question about your community-based work to Ask an Advisor, please visit

Monday, November 4, 2013

Shifting the Rhetoric to Action: A collaboration for community health

THEory into ACTion

A Bulletin of New Developments in Community Psychology Practice
November, 2013
Charles E. Sepers, Jr.                                                   Dawn X. Henderson
University of Kansas                                             Winston-Salem State University

Lately, there seems to be a lot of rhetoric on access to health care in the U.S. media and political landscape. Although rhetoric may create a sense of awareness about an issue, it does not move communities and larger systems towards change. This is where the guiding principles and strategies of community psychology take front stage, by shifting rhetoric into dialogue and dialogue into research and action.
For the past two years, the University of Kansas Work Group for Community Health and Development has been involved in a collaborative project to address ways to improve community health in Douglas County, Kansas. A team of faculty and graduate students (including Christina Holt, Associate Director for Community Tool Box Services; Dr. Vicki Collie-Akers, Associate Director for Health Promotion Research; and Chuck Sepers, graduate student) have worked in partnership with members from the Lawrence-Douglas Health Department and other local organizations to engage Douglas County stakeholders and residents in understanding the top needs and concerns in Douglas County. 
The collaborative was guided by a collaborative model for communitychange and improvement and purposely engages stakeholders in understanding barriers to healthy communities and identifying assets to support community change. A university-community partnership (Dr. Vicki Collie-Akers, Associate Director of Health Promotion Research, worked with Charles Bryan the Community Health Planner from the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department) led to the development of the initial community concerns survey, completed by more than 1,300 county residents. Five key issues were identified:
·         Lack of access to affordable healthy foods
·         Insufficient access to health care and other services
·         Poverty in association with limited job opportunities/limited access to safe and affordable housing
·         Inadequate recognition of mental health issues and access to mental health services
·         Lack of physical activity

Working groups comprised of more than 35 community stakeholders from sectors including schools, parks and recreation, business, faith communities, non-profit organizations, universities, and grassroots volunteers were then convened around each issue. For each priority area, stakeholders engaged in “naming” and “framing” the issues, and developed a series of goals and measurable outcomes that would serve as important evaluative milestones. The work groups also identified and adapted evidence-based strategies for the local community. The project reflects the guiding principles of community psychology by engaging stakeholders across multi-settings and voices of residents (elderly, youth, working class, etc.) to work collaboratively in planning research and action.

A community health plan was developed to disseminate findings and promote a “declaration of commitment” among partners and community stakeholders to achieve project goals. Characteristics of the improvement plan include:

·         Community Health Assessment: The use of a preliminary health assessment prior to the planning process served as an important step for addressing issues that mattered to those within the community. Through this process, community members were actively involved in decision making.

·         University-Community Partnership: There was a relationship between two organizations: The University of Kansas Work Group for Community Health and Development, and the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department.  The partnership, known as an Academic Health Department, is analogous to a “teaching hospital” in the medical context. This formalized partnership enhances bidirectional learning between both organizations through collaboration, training, and resource sharing. The Academic Health Department model aims to strengthen the link between research and practice.

·         Use of Multi-Methods: The initial community concerns survey was administered and completed by over 1,300 community members (Collie-Akers & Holt, 2012). This was followed by focus groups with key stakeholders across 11 sites and interviews with nearly 30 key informants across Douglas County.  A PhotoVoice project was conducted with Douglas County youth to obtain their perspectives on factors that contribute to or detract from a health community and recommendations.

This collaboration for community health reflects the process of moving dialogue into research and action as diverse community partners work together to move towards a healthier Douglas County.

Works Cited:

Collie-Akers, V., & Holt, C. (2012). Douglas County Community Health Report.  University of Kansas Work Group for Community Health and Development.

This is one of a series of bulletins highlighting the use of community psychology in practice. Comments, suggestions, and questions are welcome. Please direct them to Bill Berkowitz at