Action Items and Points Raised at the First Workshop of the District 6/Mills College Partnership Forum Public Health Department Conference Room #2 Eastmont Mall, Oakland California March 1, 2003
I. List of Attendees: (in adobe pdf.)
II. Agenda: Morning: Light breakfast; District 6 site visit (Stephanie Floyd Johnson and Desley Brooks, presenters); Opening remarks by Councilwoman Desley Brooks; Presentation and distribution of information by Stephanie Floyd Johnson, 11a.m.-noon; Lunch.
Afternoon: Opening remarks by co-facilitators, Emery Roe and David Glover; Short presentation on Mills CARES program by Leslie Townsend; Longer presentation on Emory/Atlanta community partnerships by Sam Engle, invited resource person; Workshop discussion; Late afternoon reception.
III. Selected Points.
A. Councilwoman Brooks gave background information on her initiative and activities to involve Mills College more in the development of District 6.
B. Emery Roe and Andy Workman also gave background information, including details of the Irvine grant that funded this and the upcoming two workshops. They stressed that now seemed an opportune time for the College and the District to partner in more ways than they already are, given the city, state and other budget difficulties to be faced. While the Mills faculty attending the workshop could not speak for Mills as a whole, it was underscored that Mills, through its various activities and the Irvine grant, had renewed its commitment to the city.
C. Emery stressed several points in his role as the Director of the Mills Public Policy Program:
- The intention of the workshop series is to start something that leads to something—not just more meetings, but something more on the ground that involves Mills' set of skills and competencies.
- Mills has clear assets and limitations:
- Mills is a teaching and research institution and very good at doing the things one would expect from such an institution. The College can help identify students for internships and service learning experiences, as well as help map community assets and needs. The research skills of faculty members and students range from those who can design and undertake formal surveys and survey questionnaires to those who can undertake participatory action-oriented community learning experiences. Faculty and students can help out with data-collection exercises, literature reviews, and project or program evaluations. They can also help out as link persons between those in the community and others in public, private and not-for-profit institutions.
- Mills cannot provide employment, business or social work counseling. It is not a source of financing for projects. There is currently no urban studies program, so urban and community planning is not a core competency—yet. Lastly, Mills cannot be depended upon for advocacy work, until issues have been analyzed and Mills has worked with those who advocate change.
- There are not yet a large number of students and faculty to become engaged with District 6 projects, but interest of students in community development, Oakland and the neighborhoods that are adjacent to the college is high.
- Since students come and go, Emery is committed to changing his own research interests to the District 6 area in order to provide some sustainability to our partnership work here. He is also committed to pressing for more resources, should that be necessary, to fill the gaps we identify as a partnership, on both sides of the Mills fence.
D. The workshop's invited resource person, Sam Engle of Emory University in Atlanta, gave a presentation and offered the following remarks during the workshop:
- Her Office of University–Community Partnerships:
- Gives grants for community based research
- Works in schools, tutors students in their own languages
- Provide graduate fellows for faculty members so that they can be teaching assistants
- Offers the Kenneth Cole funded Fellowship in Community Building and Social Change- students take a year of course work before they ever go into the community. They learn to think of themselves as part of a community. They don’t have the idea that they will fix things
- Sponsors a major conference /event where students can present research
- Lessons learned from the Office of University-Community Partnerships applicable to Mills College’s role in the partnership:
- Avoid the top-down approach. Focus on what the community wants /needs. Don’t assume you, the faculty or student, know what they, the neighborhoods and community, want. GO ASK THEM
- Focus on sustainability. The college is not just there for the short-term
- Create a good evaluation process: Need to assess the success of the work for the college and the community. Is this helping students in their careers? Who in the community is benefiting?
- Need to be open to creative types of research and community service learning opportunities. College can’t apply any research model to the community. For example, pollster-type research doesn’t always work in the community-based setting
- Prioritize relationships with people in the community. After students have forged relationships and built up trust, then get the data. This may well require its own course in community development and participation, which students and District 6 collaborators take before undertaking the “research”
- Students can be useful at providing a ‘dispassionate’ third-person perspective
- What does this all add up to?
- Who sets the initial “research” agenda? The community. A committee of stakeholders, including Mills representatives, reviews all the program proposals and makes the final decisions. Making decisions depends fundamentally on the match between the issue of interest to the community and the core competencies and resource availability at Mills
- Who owns the data? The community. The college publishes it on the web site, but then they hand it over
- Where does the partnership actually take place? In the district. It is important to have an off-campus presence, e.g., having courses in Eastmont Mall. (Emery Roe added that, if the partnership evolved in that direction, an off-campus institute, either as its own 501c3, or allied with an already existing one, might be worth considering for the partnership
E. Other Points.“We need a good entry point for people to enter the community in a significant way” (Romeo Garcia)
- The partnership should catalogue everything we are already doing. Figure out what resources we are already committing to it, especially on the Mills side
- Pull together all the people who are getting involved from Mills in District 6 activities, including Mills CARES (Leslie Townsend gave presentation on the program). The Mills pieces to the puzzle are already there; what’s needed is to coordinate and build an organizational platform
- The partnership should have a presence outside the Mills gate, e.g., have an extension center at the Eastmont Mall. Have it somewhere that Mills students can come to take classes in the community
- We need a newspaper for the Seminary side of campus so people can understand what’s happening outside (the Macarthur Metro only goes up to High street)
- The partnership should have fully funded summer fellowships
- We must be able to answer at least two questions about the partnership: What’s in it for the community? What’s in it for Mills? In answer to the latter, Emery stressed that it was impossible to build the kind of national, premier undergraduate public policy program at Mills that was envisioned without having students and faculty undertaking policy-relevant, timely research on communities and neighborhoods
- We needed to do a survey and assets inventory- Ask people what they think. Ask neighbors, community leaders, political leaders
- We must learn from other similar efforts, particularly the Oakland University of California Metropolitan Forum. Did traditional university research on the community and then it dissolved. What happened? What should not be repeated?
- We should look at the Main Streets Initiative as a model program and a potential source of funds. (Some basic info may be found at the following Web sites https://www.liscnet.org/whatwedo/programs/mainstreet/ and https://www.mainstreet.org/)
- District 6 has a lot of public schools K-12. Mills should focus its efforts on education
- We need interns. Especially to help organize merchants on Foothill. If we can organize these merchants, we can begin to formulate a needs assessment of the area (Prince)
- We’ve talked a lot about student labor and faculty labor. There are assets we are not talking about, namely, the employment, facilities, purchasing power, and social capital opportunities that Mills College affords to District 6 residents
- We should look at how Mills and District 6 can come together on common ground issues. What divides us? What keeps us together? Define common ground on our civic responsibilities
- Oakland needs a real neighborhood planning process. There is a lack of this. They got close with Oakland: Sharing the Vision. This is part of what’s missing
- We need to honor and respect the existing leadership in the community, people already out there doing things, don’t alienate them (NCPC, Hoards, Homeowners Associations). City maintains a list of key leaders by region
IV. Action Items for Second Workshop
A. It was agreed a second workshop should be held on April 12 in the afternoon (starting lunch time)
B. The stakeholders invited should be widened as suggested above
C. The agenda should be to continue to develop the focus and governance structure of the partnership, including identification of activities such as assets inventory in the District and modes of sustaining partnership (i.e., Mills resources and commitment to the effort)
D. Consideration should be given to attending the COPC—Community Outreach Partners Conference, April 25-27
E. Resource persons should be invited who are familiar with collaborative partnerships built around off-campus community empowerment models and courses
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