March 6-8, 2019
University of San Diego

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Anchor and Place-Based Institution Initiatives [clear filter]
Wednesday, March 6

2:15pm PST

When the Firestorm Transforms: Becoming the Community Partner
This interactive discussion session explores how crisis compels the crossing of borders and lessons for when there is no crisis. In 2017, the Tubbs fire, which grew to be the most destructive in CA history, burned through several neighborhoods in the Sonoma County seat of Santa Rosa and came within 3 miles of the Sonoma State campus. It destroyed the homes of our president, hundreds of employees, students, and community partners. Overnight, the university changed from being a service provider to being a recipient of service. The arbitrary and false barriers between “the University” and “the community” evaporated during the crisis. The fires didn’t respect the borders of the campus, the county, or city lines. Our interconnectedness with each other and with our natural and man-made surroundings was apparent. An ethic of care brought all of us together and no conversation began without authentic check-ins for months. It became clear that while the fire doesn't discriminate based on race, ethnicity, or income, power, privilege, and positionality mattered in the aftermath. Listening, acknowledging, and respecting voices or conversations that have been and are marginalized became the primary way to support healing while simultaneously, more academic approaches sprung up.

avatar for Merith Weisman

Merith Weisman

Director of Community Engagement & Strategic Initiatives, Sonoma State University

Wednesday March 6, 2019 2:15pm - 3:25pm PST
Thursday, March 7

10:00am PST

How the Rural American Digital Lab Dissolved Borders in Eastern Washington
During June 2018, two dozen students from Heritage University in Toppenish (WA) and Whitman College in Walla Walla (WA) participated in a unique new digital story-telling initiative called the Rural American Digital (RAD) Lab. With guidance from Seattle-based tech start-up, PopUpJustice, the student participants brought to light often-ignored or forgotten stories of the non-urban part of their state. During the four weeks of the project, members of the cohort spent time on both campuses, enjoyed broad exposure to faculty and staff from both institutions, and worked together to create digital stories about their place, culminating with a June 28 public screening and reception in Walla Walla that filled a 100-seat auditorium and garnered significant media coverage as well as opened future opportunities for the students to share their stories with high profile audiences. At the end of the month the planning team gathered extensive feedback. During our workshop, we will tell the story of this pilot program and reflect on lessons learned. We will also share future aspirations for this collaboration. Session attendees will be invited to think about whether their institutions are able to help spotlight the often overlooked stories of their communities through creative partnerships like this one.


Kimberly Bellamy-Thompson

Asst Professor, Heritage University
avatar for Lindsay Brown

Lindsay Brown

Director of Student Life, Heritage University
avatar for Noah Leavitt

Noah Leavitt

Director of the Student Engagement Center, Whitman College
liberal arts!

Aurora Martin

Founder, popUPjustice
Aurora served up justice for nearly 20 years in legal aid as a public interest lawyer who grew up from intern to executive director at Columbia Legal Services. During her tenure, she led Columbia's transformation to become a creative social justice advocacy organization with a mission... Read More →

Thursday March 7, 2019 10:00am - 11:10am PST