Hi, welcome to the Community Psychology TIG week! I’m Ijeoma Ezeofor and I’m an Evaluation and Learning Consultant at TCC Group and the Program Chair for the Community Psychology TIG. Community psychology has been described as a well-kept secret as many people are unfamiliar with it. In brief, community psychologists are committed to emphasizing prevention rather than only treatment after problems arise. Community psychologists use research, policy, training, and practice to promote community well-being rather than just study abstract concepts. We also recognize the value of making decisions about programs based on evidence, which is one reason many of us are also evaluators.
It was in the pursuit of this evidence, that I was recently conducting a series of interviews with some community stakeholders. One of the interview questions asked interviewees to reflect on the work of others in their community. Person after person spoke effusively of the “inspiring” work being done by peers in their community, which led me to reflect on this term.
For countless reasons, 2020 was a harrowing year. Many of us were beleaguered by the reports we saw on the news day after day. We were disheartened and traumatized by the stories we heard of rising infections and deaths, incident after incident of racial injustice, daily reports of job losses, lost funding, closing businesses and community organizations, widening disparities, and political strife, to name just a few. While many of us looked to 2021 with a sense of optimism, as we entered into the new year, it was becoming difficult to see how 2021 would be much of an improvement over 2020. As a psychologist, I wondered what might help us prevent or at least reduce further distress, trauma, and discouragement through the days and months ahead.
As we enter into the new year, this is a good time to remember what motivates us to do the work that we do. Community Psychology has a very participatory and inclusive approach, so by finding what’s inspiring in our communities, amongst our colleagues, our peers, our families and friends, in the actions of those complete strangers who stepped up for one another in the most imaginative ways can plant some seeds of hope even in these challenging times. It would be naïve to think that a few positive thoughts will be enough to prevent all problems, especially in these times. But finding sources of inspiration in the examples around us may help to sustain us for the work ahead.
Check out this pretty easy read from Psychology Today on ways to find inspiration when you need it. And if you are looking for a more exhaustive read, here’s here’s a study on the science of inspiration.
The American Evaluation Association is celebrating CP TIG Week with our colleagues in the Community Psychology Topical Interest Group. The contributions all week come from CP TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.