Bringing It

Bringing It #66: Student Voice, Community Schools, and more!

July 07, 2021

Dear friends,

In this edition of Bringing It, we’re happy to share with you a reflection from a student PLACE participant and some recent news from our friends at Penn’s Netter Center & the National Center for Community Schools.

Place Collaboratory: Student Voices on the Public Humanities

Over the past year and a half, we’ve reported from time to time on BT2P’s PLACE Collaboratory, a national network of higher ed-community civic engagement projects across the country that are using arts and humanities to address immigrant rights, housing insecurity, racial justice, the climate crisis, gentrification, and community empowerment. Students as co-creators of civically-engaged work and the impact of public humanities practices in the context of community-driven work are two of the central themes of PLACE. As the initiative nears the halfway mark, we wanted to open up a space for student participants to share with you some of the ways that the PLACE projects are using the humanities to work collaboratively with community groups and organizations to create change around important social and economic issues in their regions. The projects have created some incredible cultural tools for bringing urgent issues to life for public audiences and to support changemaking efforts that incorporate policy, advocacy, and narrative shifts.

Here, College of the Canyons (COC) student Abi Royster shares the Instagram account – featuring an original comic series by students – and the website that COC students conceptualized and created as part of the cultural strategy for the project’s work on housing insecurity and affordability within Los Angeles County’s Santa Clarita Valley where the community college is located. Make sure you click through the Sam & Alex comic strips on Instagram to get a real taste of what COC’s students are doing to leverage the power of arts and humanities in civic work!

When students are taught about different cultures, we learn not only how to celebrate and uplift them, but also to recognize how impactful and deeply rooted they are in modern society. Culture, in the broadest of terms, is how we identify where we came from, who we are, and what we do. However, in the growing world of technology and media, it is easier than ever to isolate oneself from cultures different than our own, to factionalize groups and limit our interaction online.

(Steven Brentnall, an Our Place participant, working with community partner Niki Feast-Williams of Santa Clarita homeless shelter Bridge to Home)

From its beginning, we have always known that the Our PLACE Project leaves no room for ignorance in communities, and the media presence we have created shares the same sentiment. The PLACE Project platforms, like our Instagram, represent a collaborative voice from the Santa Clarita Valley, not just the project members that maintain it.

As one of the first generations of students who have grown up in coexisting physical and digital spaces over the course of our education, we felt that College of the Canyons’ PLACE Project would retain the most impact if we focused on developing its online community in tandem with its physical projects. There, we have a “place” to provide members of the Santa Clarita Valley access to services and information about different cultural events and small organizations looking for assistance. We can also showcase meaningful artwork like comics and essays that relay valuable experiences.


(The Sam & Alex comic series is created by College of the Canyons student Ryan Appelbaum)

Our goal is to maintain a diverse, inviting, and inclusive space where all community members in need and all of those looking to serve can come together and facilitate lasting solutions to the housing crisis.

We are excited to see how Our Place continues to create community and share information about resources in the coming year!

Community Schools Policy Brief 

Our friends at Penn’s Netter Center and the National Center for Community Schools have released an important policy brief, Partnerships for Equity and Excellence: The Community School Strategy. (The Netter Center has been a national leader not only for academic community engagement but also the community-schools movement.)

Coming on the heels of the American Rescue Act, the brief informs academic, school, and community leaders how the Act funds can be used to expand community schools and provide an opportunity to reimagine educational systems and accelerate the transformative change many communities have been striving for. It’s one of the first efforts we’ve seen to connect the Biden Administration’s response to the pandemic and economic crises to our work in community engagement. Have a look.

Fall Newsletter Submissions Are Open! 

Following our transition to a digital format with our most recent Spring Newsletter, we look forward to publishing the 51st BT2P Newsletter online in the  Fall. 

For this edition, we want to shine a light on Social Justice work in higher education. We’re curious about how the current crises have opened opportunities (or created barriers) to center social justice in undergraduate education. Our goal is to lift the work of our community, presented in their own voices. In addition to long-form text stories we also invite submissions of video, audio, and other multimedia features. 

Here are links to our more detailed Call for Submissions (due by July 21) and the Submission Guidelines. Please send ideas or questions to Kelly at: [email protected]. We need you to co-create this with us and we hope that you will consider contributing.

As always, we hope you will share news of your work, thoughts, and ideas with us.

With thanks for everything you do,
David, Kate, Kelly, & Todd