TCRC quarterly report (Sept 1 – Nov 30 2017)

The TCRC has released its quarterly report for the period from September 1 to November 30, 2017. Highlights from this quarter include the start of 24 new community-based research projects by 37 new students, on behalf of 21 community organizations.

To read the report, click here.

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TCRC student presents project results at provincial HSJCC conference

Callum Stanford presented the results of his 2016/2017 community-based research project at the bi-annual conference of the Provincial Human Services & Justice Coordinating Committee in Toronto on November 20, 2017.

“Getting to present my research in front of numerous professionals was very exciting,” Stanford said, adding that he was happy to “represent Trent University and the TCRC proudly and showcase some of the great research that comes from the Centre.”

Stanford’s project, which he completed for the regional chapter of the HSJCC, studied the operations of Situation Tables in Northumberland, City of Kawartha Lakes, and Peterborough. Situation Tables are initiatives which connect multiple social service and justice agencies in a community so they can meet to plan collaborative responses to individuals facing acute risk or imminent harm.

Stanford’s research explored the history, working practices, and provincial guidelines for Situation Tables, and also analyzed data recorded by the regional Situation Tables to identify trends in their operations. Lastly, Stanford conducted interviews and surveys with Situation Table participants to identify opportunities to improve the initiative.

Situation Tables are a relatively new approach to delivering social services, making Stanford’s research extremely topical. His project has drawn interest from agencies across Canada. “To think that my research may assist in future Situation Table research is quite exciting. I put a significant amount of effort into my research and to have it recognized in this manner makes the time and dedication all worth it.”

“Getting to present at the HSJCC bi-annual conference is a competitive process,” said John Marris, executive director of the TCRC and Stanford’s project coordinator. “That Callum was invited speaks to the high quality of his work, and to the valuable opportunity of doing community-based research as part of your undergraduate degree.”

To learn more about Stanford’s project, click here.


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TCRC students studying the yields of local food gardens

How much food is being grown in community gardens and back yard gardens in Peterborough? And what impact does that produce have on food security and community well-being? Two student researchers at the Trent Community Research Centre are studying these questions on behalf of Nourish Peterborough, a local community food initiative.

Abigail Sparling

Abigail Sparling, an Environmental Studies major, and Jennifer Boesche, an Environmental Resource Science major, are working on two discrete community-based research projects – Sparling is studying the yields of local community gardens and Boesche is focussing on back yard and sidewalk gardens.

Sparling says she was drawn to her project because of the way it “confronts a lot of the issues I deal with in my program, like food security, and the social, economic, and environmental aspects of community food production.”

“It seemed like a project I could really sink my teeth into,” Sparling says. “I thought it would be a really good opportunity to get some experience doing hands-on research.”

A significant part of the project will involve developing a system that Nourish can use in the future to measure and weigh the yields of gardens in Peterborough.

“These projects will help us determine the impact local gardens have, not only on food security in Peterborough, but also on the city’s economic and environmental health,” says Jill Bishop, the Community Food Cultivator at Nourish. Bishop says that with this information, Nourish will be able to better advocate for and give support to local gardeners.

Sparling has volunteered in community gardens since she was in high school, and she is looking forward to contributing to the local food movement in Peterborough through her community-based research project. “Community gardens are hubs for people to get together,” she says. “When people can get together to share knowledge around growing food it creates a deeper sense of community.”

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TCRC releases 2016/17 Annual Report

The Trent Community Research Centre is pleased to release its Annual Report for the 2016/17 year (June 1 2016 – May 31 2017). You can read the report here.

This year the TCRC supported 44 community-based research projects and one community service learning project. We worked with 139 students to help them deliver high quality research to 30 different community organizations.

In the Annual Report you can learn more about the projects we supported in the 2016/17 year. You will also find comments from our students and community partners about the impact doing community-based research through the TCRC has had on them and their work. Enjoy!

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TCRC research supports development of Peterborough County’s Heritage Jail Park

Peterborough County’s new Heritage Jail Park was opened on September 20, 2017, and two TCRC students whose research supported the development of the park attended the opening ceremony.

Laura Schindel and Logan Taylor researched the history of the Peterborough County Jail for their community-based research project during the 2016/17 academic year. The County relied on Schindel’s and Taylor’s background research, and the two students wrote the eight interpretive panels that guide visitors through the park.

A digital guide to the history of the Peterborough County Jail was also developed, with Shindel and Taylor producing the content for the site.

“It was so amazing to see our research really come to life,” said Schindel. “We were so grateful for the opportunity to conduct community-based research and contribute to the history of the County.”

This project is part of a larger partnership between the Trent Community Research Centre and the County of Peterborough, which involves the TCRC developing research projects that serve the County’s interests, and supporting students as they complete them. “We are very proud of the partnership we have with both the Trent Community Research Centre and with Trent University,” a County spokesperson wrote on the new jail park website. To read more about the TCRC’s partnership with the County of Peterborough, click here.


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Celebrating an exceptional year of community-based research

TCRC students sharing their research projects at our annual Celebration of Community Research.

Over 75 students presented their community-based research projects to their peers, faculty, host organizations and other community members at our annual Celebration of Community Research on March 31, 2017. It was inspiring to see our students’ finished projects, and to learn about the potential their research has to make a positive impact in our community. Thanks and congratulations to all the participating students!

The Celebration was also a chance to give out our year-end awards to students who have done exceptional work in their community-based research projects. We were pleased to present the following awards:

Academic Achievement in a Community Setting Award

Awarded to the project that best demonstrates rigorous community-based research practices to produce results of particularly high academic merit. Sponsored by Professor Emeritus Dr. John Wadland.

FIRST PRIZE – Emily Amon (Sustainable Stormwater Management: Protecting Harper Creek Through Effective Policy & Priority Placement of Rain Gardens)

RUNNER UP – Mason Godden (History of a Student-Led Organization 1990 to 2017)

Emily Amon

Mason Godden

Community Impact Award

Presented to the project that shows clear engagement with community needs and interests, and illustrates the principles of a community-first approach to research work, creating the potential for significant impact within the community. Sponsored by CUPE Local 3908.

FIRST PRIZE – Callum Stanford (Analysis of Regional Situation Tables)

FIRST PRIZE – Ryne Evans & Brittany Reid (Evaluating the 2013-2014 Sex Worker Action Project in Peterborough)

RUNNER UP – Brieanna Elliot (Supporting Immigrant Entrepreneurs) 

Callum Stanford

Brittany Reid and Ryne Evans

Innovative Presentation Award

Presented to the student(s) who have demonstrated highly effective communication and presentation skills in the design of their poster. Judges looked for high standards of poster design and information presentation, effective and imaginative use of space, and communication of research process and results. Sponsored by the Workforce Development Board.

FIRST PRIZE – Skylar Onistchenko-Abrantes (Are Two Heads Better Than One? A Housing Network Evaluation)

RUNNER UP – Brieanna Elliot (Supporting Immigrant Entrepreneurs) 

Skylar Onistchenko-Abrantes (Right)

Brieanna Elliot

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Master’s student Maddy Macnab documents early history of the New Canadians Centre

Maddy Macnab, a Master’s candidate in the Canadian and Indigenous Studies program at Trent, has partnered with the New Canadians Centre to document the oral history of the organization’s founding and early days. Macnab’s project, arranged through the Trent Community Research Centre, will serve as her Master’s thesis.

The New Canadians Centre was founded in 1979 as a group of volunteers supporting Vietnamese refugees. The organization has since grown and now serves over 800 new Canadians every year, including many Syrian refugees, making Macnab’s research into the organization’s founding especially relevant.

The early history of the New Canadians Centre has never been formally documented, and so Macnab’s work will be indispensable in preserving this important story in Peterborough’s history.

“It has always been important to me to be engaged with the community where I’m living, and to put my energies back into that community,” Macnab says.

“Working for change with other folks in my community in various ways has always been a great source of positive energy and an amazing learning experience.”

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Upcoming Workshops

The Trent Community Research Centre is partnering with the Academic Skills Centre this February to deliver two workshops on how to present research results. See the full details about these workshops below.

Presenting Data & Creating Graphs & Figures
February 8, 2017, 3:00pm – 4:30 pm, Bata 201

In this workshop you will learn techniques to effectively present data to a variety of audiences. We will discuss different data types, common features of graphs and other figures, and the balance and integration of visuals and text. Register online.

Writing Reports
February 15, 2017, 3:00pm – 4:30pm, Bata 201

Successful research reports must be analytical, effectively organized, and clearly written to be meaningful for their intended particular audience. In this workshop, students will learn about various reporting conventions and structures, approaches for reporting and integrating evidence, and strategies for adapting writing style to meet the audience’s need. Throughout, students will appreciate the necessity of analysis, clarity, and specificity in all report writing. Students are encouraged to bring questions and share successful strategies for report writing. Register online.


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Helping youth voices to be heard

The Trent Community Research Centre is helping youth in Peterborough to get their voices heard. In November 2016, we paired two youth leaders with a graduate student mentor from Trent to develop a presentation on the needs of Peterborough’s youth for the Peterborough Youth Commission.

Kate and Evan preparing their presentation.

Kate and Evan, both members of the Peterborough Youth Council, had already collected significant data on what youth are saying about their needs in Peterborough. The TCRC connected them with Alexandra Ha, a Master’s candidate in Psychology at Trent, who volunteered to help them interpret the data and develop a presentation for the Peterborough Youth Commission.

“Kate and Evan had some super impressive data, especially for their age,” said Ha. “I helped them to interpret it, and present it to an audience. I wanted to mentor them, and help to expand their intellectual curiosity.”

By holding focus groups and conducting surveys, Kate and Evan found that youth in Peterborough are most commonly concerned about two key issues: transit accessibility and mental health support. They said transit costs and scheduling inefficiencies are a barrier to accessing activities and opportunities in the city, and that better mental health support is needed to address problems like drug use and depression among youth.

The presentation to the Youth Commission, which includes a city councillor as well as municipal and community leaders, was very well received, and the team hopes that it leads to a better understanding of youth needs in the community, and more dialogue between municipal leaders and youth.

Kate’s and Evan’s research “shows that students have the potential to make change,” Ha said. “It shows that youth are making a huge impact in this community, which is really motivating.”

“I’m proud of Evan and Kate,” Ha added.

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Emily Amon doing crucial watershed research in Harper Park

Fourth year Emily Amon is on track to complete her third community-based research project with us. This time, she’s studying the ecologically sensitive Harper Creek watershed. Amon is hopeful her work will influence City policy and raise awareness about the hazards facing the Creek. 

Driven by a passion for community-based research and environmental science, fourth-year Trent student Emily Amon returned to the TCRC in the fall of 2016 to pursue a third community-based research project with us. Her new project will examine the Harper Creek subwatershed to identify the areas that most need increased soil permeability in order to reduce the amount of sediments and other contaminants that run-off into the creek.

Amon is interested in community green spaces and water quality, so this was a natural project for her. Harper Creek is an ecologically sensitive part of Peterborough, she says, and with increasing urbanization in the area, including plans to build a casino, we need to understand the hazards facing the subwatershed.

Like many TCRC students, Amon appreciates the opportunity to study real problems facing her community. “I don’t see the point in answering questions that no one is asking, or that only academics are asking,” she says. “With community-based research I can come up with solutions to problems that we’re actually seeing.”

Amon’s research is part of a broader push by Peterborough GreenUp (who is hosting her project) to increase soil permeability in Peterborough by de-paving property and installing rain gardens. It’s something that’s on City Hall’s agenda as well, and Amon plans to present recommendations to the City about which areas to prioritize when she finishes her project.

Even now though, in the early stages of Amon’s research, she feels like her work is raising awareness. “There’s been a lot of public concern about the social problems presented by the casino, but I think my work has drawn more attention to the environmental concerns around it.”

Amon hopes her work will encourage people throughout Peterborough to consider building rain gardens on their property. “They’re something anyone can implement,” she says. And they make a big difference by absorbing rain water, which reduces flood risks and diverts contaminants away from streams, rivers, and lakes.

Amon plans to continue her community-focussed approach to environmental research after she graduates from Trent. “The only way to achieve environmental goals is to focus on the community where the problems are,” she says. “There are no one size fits all solutions. So community-based research seems more sustainable, and more likely to succeed.”

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