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Anti-Poverty Community Organizing and Learning (APCOL)

Filling Holes -- The academic side of the APCOL project


Learning Changes, Vol. 1, No. 1 Fall 2009

Where APCOL Fits into Current Research

by Peter Sawchuk and Sharon Simpson

Our APCOL project is using action research to fill in several important gaps in the existing resources on anti-poverty activity. By doing this, we can deepen and widen our ability to understand ways in which activists and communities take on the challenges of poverty in Toronto and elsewhere.

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Learning Changes, Vol. 1, No. 2 Spring 2010

Social Networks, Activism and Community Mobilizing

by Stephanie Ross

Recently, people involved in anti-poverty policy-making, community economic development and social movement action and research have begun to focus their attention on the role of social networks in facilitating community action and change.

Social networks are our webs of relationships, whether family, friends, schoolmates, co-workers, neighbours, or fellow movement activists. These networks link us not just to each other as communities but also to the institutions of power in our society. Some researchers argue that our social networks and relationships should be understood as social capital because they allow us to access a range of economic and non-economic resources. In other words, as the old saying goes, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know, that matters.”

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Learning Changes, Vol. 2, No. 1 Autumn 2010

Combining Case Study and Survey Methods in Anti-poverty Research

by D. W. Livingstone

Many researchers tend to think the chances of effectively mixing case study and survey methods are as likely as mixing oil and water. Survey methods rely on counting responses and computing patterns; case studies interpret the meaning of participants’ stories rather than counting them. Sample surveys of relatively large numbers of people can generate summary statistics about the general population of areas ranging from local neighbourhoods to countries. In-depth case studies typically focus on small numbers of people in particular settings and bring forth stories about personal experiences. Most of the research on poverty issues falls on one side or the other: either statistical indicators of poverty or personal testimony about living conditions.

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Learning Changes, Vol. 3, No. 1 Autumn 2011

Filling the Gaps Through Storytelling: Human Geography and Social Belonging

by Doreen Fumia

People have stories to tell, stories about their lives, where they live and whether or not they feel like they belong. Belonging can reflect a variety of feelings such as a sense that you have a place in your home, your school, your community, your neighbourhood or your nation. Why does this matter and what does it have to do with anti-poverty community organizing and learning?

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Learning Changes, Vol. 4, No. 1 Summer 2013

Confronting Gentrification in Anti-poverty Organizing

by Katharine Rankin

Anti-poverty activists and social movements have long grappled with the slippery distinction between economic revitalization and gentrification. Economic revitalization, resulting from investments in a neighborhood by the private and/or public sectors, holds out the possibility of improvements—livelier and safer streets, better amenities, beautiful spaces, feelings of belonging. Gentrification raises the spectre of displacement. Fixing up a neighborhood attracts more and more gentry (highly educated, highly skilled, highly paid middle and elite classes) to move into a neighborhood; increased housing costs, demolition for new construction, changes in the social fabric, threats to critical community networks, all put pressure on people with low incomes and other vulnerabilities to move out. A key challenge for anti-poverty organizing and community economic development is whether and how it is possible to achieve revitalization of disinvested neighborhoods, without displacement of the people who live and work in them.

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