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Let's talk about the practices you are engaging in from a social constructionist perspective that make a difference in organizations, communities, schools, families, and beyond. How do ideas about social construction influence your life or work?

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  • TMO Alief  For the last three years I have been working in the suburb of Alief in Houston.  It is a very diverse community with over 85 languages spoken.  We have been working with the schools, churches and other institutions to develop a more inclusive and responsive community.  Our main activity is with the schools to help parents become more involved in their children's education and parents participation in school governance.  This is quite challenging in as much as many families come from an immigrant background and are low income and there are numerous impediments to creating a culture of inclusiveness and engagement.  I'd like to get your comments on the blog and also to hear from others as to how you're using social construction in your community work.

    • HI Franklin,

      So good to hear about your work and would love to know more. In what kinds of activities are you inviting the parents to participate? Have you been having programs just for the parents, or the parents and the students, or the whole community?

      • Dawn,

        It's good to hear from you again.  The best way to check out our activities is to go to my blog at TMO Alief  .  Our work in Alief is just one aspect of what we do, but it along with a workforce development program called Capital Idea Houston is where i do most of my work.  In Alief we are very fortunate that each school has a "family liaison" the works with families.  TMO has helped shape that program and give workshops and attend governance committees of about 5 schools.  The object of the school family centers is to develop "engagement" as opposed to just doing "involvement".  Discriminating those two words takes a lot of time and effort for both the liaisons and school staff.  Additionally, TMO works to help parents and congregations develop relational opportunities and actions.  Because the community has over 85 languages spoken and many are immigrants and are low income there is much opportunity for developing community.  Parts of the community have high crime rates and "couch surfing" (semi-homelessness).  Check out one blog article called "Brave Mothers and Grandmothers Clean Up a Neighborhood".   This effort came as a result of these women deciding that they were sick and tired of being sick and tired of their children having to step over used condoms walking to school and that there were 9 murders within a mile of the school in the past year.   The strategy of change is not well spelled out in the articles but suffice it to say, our work, regardless of whether it's developing a dance class at an elementary school or the "brave mother's and grandmother's" is helping co-construct alternatives to defeat, fear, and apathy.

        • Hello Franklin,

          just curious: do you have some connections to Houston Galveston Institute? I have spent there 4 months 7 years ago. I would love to come again and hope to meet you in Houston:-)

          • Pavel,

            I took several courses there and Harlene was my local advisor on my PhD.  They have a terrific program.  When you come, let me know.

            • Perfect! I will let you know for sure! P.

  • Currently, in my professional life, I am most interested in developing practices informed by social constructionism in the field of addiction. In the Czech Republic, where I come from, this field is very much professionalized and there is a lot of expert knowledge that goes unchallenged. For last seven years, I have been doing a study on"natural recovery" from problém methamphetamine use and the interviews I was doing was really transformational for me. It looks that we really do not see the natural resources of change in social networks, communities and within individuals, and instead we are constantly trying to develop the CURE that we could get a patent for.

    Thanks to Taos grant, I am going to shoot several videos of people that overcame addiction problems without professional help. I want also to start a blog about addiction from social constructionist viewpoint, I would be grateful if other associates join me... Pavel 

  • Pavel,

    I'm anxious to see your video when it's finished.  I personally don't have much experience with addiction.  I have a close friend who has developed a peer group program for youth and their parents.  Often the parents have addictions of their own that impede progress of the young person.  Parents don't meet with the young persons, but have their own group.  John states that with addiction alters the brains function and that it takes about 18months to reroute altered brain patterns.  Typically they do not use drugs to fight addiction but alter the persons peer group.  I think John was in the Czech Republic last year.  His name is John Cates and he started Lifeway, here in Houston.

    • Thanks for your reply, Franklin. I will definitely let you know when the videos are finished. Unfortunately, I have not met John but it would be interesting to talk. For me, the statement about altered brain function, is derived from different perspective than I use. I would say that one needs a time for reconstructing his/her identity, for finding a new place to feel "at home", to find a new sense of belonging. And I don´t know how much time one needs: maybe 18 months, maybe 2 years, maybe he/she will always be on the way, always in the move. For me, this is really interesting topic. Regards from Czech Republic, Pavel

  • Pavel,

    John Cates contact info is http://lifewayinternational.org  I'm sure John would be happy to talk to you.  Tell him Franklin Olson sent you.  He's a close friend.  I imagine with Skype you can have a productive conversation.

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