As discussions on- and off-campus have continued, I've noticed interest in (and descriptions of) various models of "community-university engagement." In general, these models are intended to summarize a general approach to partnerships; Ken Reardon's article that appeared recently in Communities and Banking (a publication of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston) is a great review of these models.
Missing from many discussions, however, is a long-standing example of incredibly successful community-university partnership and collaboration, Juniper Gardens Children's Project at the University of Kansas. Started in the early 1960s, Juniper Gardens has followed many of the core principles we value here -- meaningful participation of community members and university faculty, staff and students; focus on research and training that directly contributes to community development; and a generative, ever-deepening relationship between community members, leaders and agencies with University faculty and programs.
The Juniper Gardens story is a rich one, told ably by the current leaders and their colleagues; one great source is an
article from the American Psychologist in 1992. While future entries here will return to the notion of social validity as a defining element of community-university partners, learning more about Juniper Gardens is a great way to begin.
On Wednesday, January 25, I met with Gary Reierson -- President of the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches, Bruce Bjork, and Sara Nelson-Pallmeyer. Sara is director of the UMCC's new Center for Families, a facility at 3333 3rd Av N that will serve all comers, but is particularly for recent immigrants from Western Africa. I was surprised to learn that some 50,000 recent West African immigrants are living in the Twin Cities, and that many live in the western metropolitan area. The Center for Families will offer a host of programs for immigrant families, as well as provide office space for various groups providing social and other services on the North Side. Dr. Reierson was interested in finding ways to link with the University -- perhaps especially in areas related to immigration law -- but we also pledged to stay in touch and see if other possibilities arise.
I was greatly impressed, and look forward to going to the Center's grand opening celebration on Sunday, Feb 12.