Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Community Renaissance: How We do Interviews

AnitaWrites is a program area of Community Renaissance.  Here is a brief explanation of how Community Renaissance does one element of its work.

How Community Renaissance and its area of focus, The Partnership for Equity and Civic Engagement (PĒCE) does Interviews for potential Community Conversations and/or Public Dialogue Projects, 1/13.

The underlying social research method of our work is ethnography. In contrast to the research perspective, or paradigm, commonly known as positivism which emphasizes quantitative methods of data collection and analysis, ethnographic methods are the tools used by the naturalism research paradigm.  Naturalism suggests that, as much as possible, the researcher should be trying to understand the issues of research in its undisturbed state.  With this perspective, human actions and interactions are influenced by social meanings, intentions, motives, attitudes and beliefs.  While positivism emphasizes hypothesis-testing and the neutrality of the researcher, naturalism sees research as a process of exploration and the researcher(s) is part of the world s/he is studying.  The tool of reflective analysis is an important method the ethnographer utilizes in order to include his/her responses to and interpretations of the world s/he is trying to better understand.

Within this preferred method of naturalism,  the approach Community Renaissance has used since 2003, the interview methodology is defined as structured conversation. These conversations are elicited in order to better understand the world of the research participants.  The conversations are shaped by the context of the participants’ world.  The essential components of ethnographic interviewing/structured conversations are the following:

  • researchers do not predesign the questions; instead they frame the issues or topics to be discussed;
  • questions are generated from the conversation;
  • researchers do not limit themselves to one mode of questioning; both directive and nondirective (open-ended) questions may be used;
  • interviews are not the only source of data; multiple sources are necessary—for examples, newspaper or magazine articles, observations, surveys and other data resources.

Once the data has been collected, it is important to use multiple modes of qualitative data analysis. Conversation-analysis is the study of talk-in-interaction.  Narrative analysis takes as its focus of research the story (heard or written) itself.  Community Renaissance uses both these modes as necessary, in addition to using limited, supportive quantitative analysis, particularly the tool of benchmarking which identifies reference point (s) in the research world of a particular research project.

Composed by Anita C. Fonte, PhD. Principal Consultant, Community Renaissance with significant resource contribution from (listed in order of contribution emphasis): 

Ethnography Principles in Practice.  Martyn Hammersley and Paul Atkinson.  1983.

Public Stories in Public Dialogue.  Anita C. Fonte, UA dissertation.  1996.

Narrative Analysis.  Catherine Kohler Riessman.  1993.

Conversation Analysis:  The Study of Talk-in-Action.  George Psathas.  1995.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Catalina State Park: another BrightSpot

Last weekend, we revisited Catalina State Park and brought our visiting friend, Michael, to this delicately preserved park at the base of Pusch Ridge, on the north side of the Catalina Mountains.  It was a very warm day for January and the late afternoon light was glorious on the cacti, shrubs and rocks.  We were pleasantly surprised by the washes with snow-melt cascading over the rocks and touching the roots of grasses along the way. 

Mark called this first shot: "a cathedral of cacti"--pretty poetry, pretty picture.

Here is a rare sight: water in the desert wash.
If you look closely at this photo, you can see the reflection of the saguaros in the water.

BrightSpots: Hacienda del Sol lunch and dinner desert at Nana's Kitchen

As you know by now, Mark and I love food.  I suppose one of the unspoken qualities of long-time friends of ours is that they love food, too.  So, last weekend, we had several "play days" with friends and food was part of our visits.

On Friday, with snowbird-Ohioan, Gail, we had a lovely lunch on the patio at Hacienda Del Sol where our son, Aron, works as Banquet Chef.  www.haciendadelsol.com .  My husband ordered a favorite he had on our anniversary last month:  salmon sandwich on pumpernickel bread, aioli and cabbage. He added a side salad with balsamic dressing.  He loves this entree.

Gail and I wanted to make sure to save room for dessert (you will see why as you scroll down), so we split our entree , recommended by our son:  homemade mozzerella and brisket sandwich on foccacia, served with butter lettuce, pickled vegetables and topped with chimichurro, a mild mixture of green pepper, cilantro and parsley.  The meat melted in my mouth is was so tender.  We also added side salads.
So, for dessert, we split between our threesome, the  "shades of chocolate" dessert: chocolate mousse with devil's food cake and homemade white chocolate mocha ice cream.  A shout out to the pastry chef:  Marcos Castro who knows how to make tempting delights that are sweet, light tasting and artfully presented.
Last, but not least at Hacienda, I was in a very smiley place throughout the lunch as I sipped my strawberry mimosa!
The next day, after a good walk at Catalina State Park (see my next post), another visiting-for-the-weekend friend and fellow NIU '76 alumni, Michael, joined us at Nana's Kitchen in Marana.  http://www.mexicanfoodtucson.com/.  We finished off the entrees before I remembered to have Mark take food photos but the dessert is here for you to imagine:  it's a red velvet cake with an especially added recipe of Tres Leches from the owner who was celebrating her 40th birthday.  If you are out in Marana, visit this place where the food is good, and, on this particular Saturday night, the Mariachi Band also played rock n' roll tunes!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

BEYOND: Valley of the Moon BrightSpot

Yesterday, as part of the BEYOND events, we visited the nearby Valley of the Moon.  It's another Tucson BrightSpot: fanciful and funky.  I enjoy seeing the kids with painted faces and costumes as much as I do the structures.  Loyal volunteers serve as guides and storytellers and there is a helpful map to help take visitors on the paths.  I think it would be fun to add a "find the fairies and gnomes in the Valley" activity, too.  Enjoy.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

DeGrazia Chapel: Tucson Spiritual Bright Spot

As the New Year begins, our (I include Mark, my hubby/photographer in the AnitaWrites team), quest for more Tucson Bright Spots continues.  It was a crisp New Year's day--sunshine was bright, sky blue and cloudless and winter air was softly chilled. There was a dusting of snow on the Catalina foothills.  We took an easy drive up Swan to the DeGrazia Chapel and savored the sweet solitude and scenes below.

Here is the archway to the chapel.

The outside of Chapel with single bell that sounds in the breeze.
Inside, the walls are painted with De Grazia iconic figures.
My favorite scene is of three angels which I have also posted on Facebook.
The chapel is just west of the Studio and here is a link to both, tucked away on the east side of the north end of Swan Road.  http://degrazia.org/Contact.aspx
I encourage you to visit this Bright Spot and begin your New Year with Light and Joy.