For some time now at my field placement, I have been thinking about completing interviews with people in the neighborhood around the Boggs School. The school values place-based education and wants to not only fulfill its mission of developing its students but also inspiring them to be a force for change in their own communities. Some students and their families are from the surrounding community while others are from other parts of southeast Michigan. Many families are active in African American community organizing and social justice work and value the Boggs School for its vision to revolutionize education. My hope is to develop a framework and introduction for future interns and other new faces entering the Boggs School community.
This semester, I attended a workshop called “Entering, Engaging, and Exiting Communities” hosted by the Ginsberg Center. During the session, I further reflected on not only who I am and my interests but also in what way embarking on this type of project would benefit the community. I am leaving in five months from my field placement, but it is possible that through these interviews I would be able to gather information for a tangible project for the community that I could complete during my time there. My concern, however, is that I would not have the time to fully organize something, especially because there are several other events that happen during this time of the school year.
The goal then is to learn about community strengths and the way that community members meet needs, as well as learn about how the school has partnered and continues to partner with the neighborhood. The interviews would help paint a picture for future interns and be a means of helping new people enter and engage the school. One suggestion from my MSW field supervisor is to film the people that I sit down with instead of simply having a paper interview. Although I’ve used film as a media before, I’m nervous about producing something that could potentially be shown to the whole school, or many people coming into the school. I’m also not sure how to complete the project within a month. But, upon sharing the idea with my supervisor, she loved it and is eager to see it happen. I am working on creating a plan of implementation over the next few weeks to find a location for the interviews, arrange times when people can meet, and continue to identify people who could participate in the project.
Below is a working list of questions:
- Tell me about yourself and what you do in the community.
- What brought you to the neighborhood? Do you affiliate yourself with the neighborhood or with the school?
- What projects have you done or been a part of that partners the school with the neighborhood?
- How did you organize community and/or school members?
- Who are leaders that you have identified in the neighborhood?
- Who did you reach out to for support?
- How did you build rapport?
- What kind of challenges did you face?
- Did anyone oppose the work that you were doing?
- What are community strengths that you have seen/discovered?
- How did/do you use those strengths to inform your work?
- What needs have you noticed in the community?
- How have you worked to meet those needs?
- What needs can be met further?
- What has been the best part about your work?
- Who else should we connect with to understand the area?
- Why is the Boggs School important?
- What’s your message for Boggs kids?
Ways that this project could be stronger is if there was more partnership with people at the school, and that it involved the students in its creation. Unfortunately, right now it feels very focused on my own needs instead of the school’s. Will this really benefit the school? The neighborhood? Will this project make an impact? I’m hoping to find those links as I dive in.