COMM-ORG Papers 2005

Rabinovitch--Transforming Community Practice


Contents | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Notes & References | Appendices


Appendix A

 Traditional Scholarly Disciplines that Inform Transformative Community Practice

General Disciplines & Sub-fields


Limits/Liabilities [14]




-understands culture

-grass roots, community based

-develops listening skills

-community mapping tools

-history of learning to understand people’s reality

-non intervention

-no community action component

-belief in objective observer



Community Economic     Development (CED)

Economic Restructuring

-promotes self sufficiency

-incorporates training

-challenges economic status quo

-participatory livelihood

-unrealistic with extremely marginalized

-creates false expectations

-context problematic


Popular Education

Empowerment Education

-promotes awareness of underlying causes of inequality

-analysis of power difference

-leads to action


-learning from experience

-methodology not developed by group

-limited scope

-most useful once group in existence

-lacks action focus


Population Health

Health Promotion

Public Health

Community Health

-builds from the ground up

-goes where people are

-uses determinants of health

-includes participation &

action research

-community based

-scope limited


International Development

AID Development Work

International Philanthropy

Participatory Rural Action

-builds grassroots capacity

-local assessment, program planning

-useful set of already developed tools


-grassroots decision making the exception

-outcomes created by donours

-rarely questions root causes

Planning & Development

Community Organizing


-neighbourhood based

-social change orientation

-radical analysis of power

-effective outreach


-organizes groups

-facilitates community involvement

-analysis of power


-leadership from outside

-confrontational style

-traditionally male dominated

-focus on winning single issue

-short term

Political Science

Civil Society Discourse

Modern Democratic Theory

Citizenship & Public Policy

-emphasis on inclusivity

-theory based


-missing interpersonal one-on-one dynamic


Community Psychology

Creation of Settings

Behaviour Analysis

Community Research & Action

Empowerment Policy

-social change focus

-commitment to empowerment

-community based

-redistribution of social power

-coalition building

-values diversity

-pairing of research & action

-usually initiated from outside of community

-tension between community based activism & academia

Religious Studies

Spiritual Activism

“Good Works”

-understanding of interconnectedness of things

-positive vision

-not specific to community practice

Social Work

Community Development

Community Organizing

Community Practice

Feminist Organizing

-contextual analysis

-big picture


-community immersion


-action focus

-capacity building component important

-supports networks

-analysis of power

-individual focus

-clients and service provider mentality

-organizing not well documented


Social Movement Theory


-analysis of social change

-participatory democracy

-based on fundamental values

-theory based


-retrospective rather than active

Women’s Studies

Feminist Organizing


-incorporates analysis of race, class & gender


-radical activist tradition

-coalition building


-social change focus



-increasingly theory focussed

Appendix B

PEERS’ Philosophical Stance:

The organization has an ongoing and unwavering commitment to peer-led services, administration and policy development. It is dedicated to shaping the organization in response to the experiences of sex trade workers, whether that information is anecdotal  or derives from formal, collaborative research ventures. Finally, and significantly, PEERS has refused to align itself with either of the two dominant discourses on sex trade work: the pro-trade prostitutes’ rights position and the abolitionist, anti-prostitution position.

As befits an organization concerned with the complicated lives of those in the sex trade, PEERS has developed a complex analysis of the factors that interact to involve and keep women in the trade. Wahab (2002) notes in discussing the relationship between social work and sex trade workers that service providers rarely see sex trade workers as the “experts” of their own lives. All three of the explanatory analyses—that is, that it is a result of immorality, that it is borne of pathology rooted in traumatic childhood experiences, that it results from gender and/or economic oppression—that have shaped approaches to working with sex trade workers (redemption, therapeutic interventions or consciousness-raising) have been authored from outside the trade. From inside the trade, where PEERS is located, there is recognition that the search for explanatory variables is useful insofar as it contributes to, but does not constrain, the development of programs responsive to the needs of sex trade workers. In other words, interest in whether sex trade work is constructed as “work” and, therefore, is seen as a matter of choice, or constructed as evidence of oppression or of psychopathology, must never impede the provision of services. PEERS has always positioned sex trade workers as the experts, using their wisdom, knowledge and experience to inform service and program development. Sex trade workers participate in and value these programs because they see them as reflecting the realities of their lives (Rabinovitch and Strega 142).

Appendix C

Summary Introduction of the Declaration and Agenda for Action developed by participants at Out from the Shadows: International Summit of Sexually Exploited Youth, and presented to the United Nations General Assembly.


We the sexually exploited child and youth delegates gathered in Victoria Canada, for Out From the Shadows: International Summit for the Sexually Exploited Youth, declare the following:

We declare that the term child or youth prostitute can no longer be used.  These children and youth are sexually exploited and any language or reference to them must reflect this belief.

We declare that the commercial sexual exploitation of children and youth is a form of child abuse and slavery.

We declare that all children and youth have the right to be protected form all forms of abuse, exploitation and the threat of abuse, harm or exploitation.

We declare that the commercial sexual exploitation of children and youth must no longer be financially profitable.

We declare that all children and youth have the right to know their rights.

We declare that the issue of child and youth sexual exploitation must be a global priority and nations must not only hold their neighbors accountable but also themselves.

We declare that governments are obligated to create laws which reflect the principle of zero tolerance of all forms of abuse and exploitation of children and youth.



Our agenda contains actions that are based on our beliefs.  Our beliefs have come from what we have lived. To understand why these actions will work, you must understand our beliefs and the life experience that have led to these beliefs.

We believe that education is vital in our struggle against the sexual exploitation of children and youth.

We believe that the voices and experiences of sexually exploited children and youth must be heard and are central to the development and implementations of action. We must be empowered to help ourselves.

We believe that we have the right to resources that are directed towards sexually exploited children and youth and our very diverse needs.

We believe that our laws must protect us as sexually exploited children and youth and no longer punish us as criminals.

We believe that we are all responsible for our children and youth, yet the issue is not ours alone.

Governments, communities and society as a whole must be held accountable for the sexual exploitation of children and youth.

Appendix D 

Summary Analysis of Example Projects



Downtown Women’s Project





Two year community development (CD) project with homeless men

One year CD project plus one year training and employment project with homeless/street women

One year of CD and seven years of developing programs and services with and for sex trade workers

Six years of working with sexually exploited youth combatting sexual exploitation nationally and internationally

One year development stage of international experiential organization

Key players at the table

Homeless and very poor downtown men

Change agent

Women with a street/drug history on welfare

Change agent

Staff team

Board of society

Sex trade workers, past and present

Change agent

People who were sexually exploited youth

Change agent


Staff of national NGO

People who were sexually exploited youth Change agent Advisors/allies Staff of national NGO

Initiating factor

Change agent while at City, Social Planning

Change agent while at City, Social Planning

Sex trade workers

Cherry Kingsley, former sexually exploited youth

Cherry Kingsley, former sexually exploited youth


An organization of their own

A place to go Permanent housing

A women’s emergency shelter

Permanent housing

Training and employment

An organization of their own Programs and services to support sex trade workers exit and/or stay safe and healthy

Training and employment


A gathering so sexually exploited youth could be part of addressing issue and a national follow-up strategy and project

An organization to combat sexual

exploitation led by experiential youth and adults

Back-ground players behind the scenes

City Hall Downtown Working Group Prov. Gov’t, Other services

City Hall

Prov. Gov’t, Other services Business

Crew Neighbours

Community,  Prov. Govt,  Academic researchers  Politicians



Federal Gov’t  Media

University partner International  Foundations


Free food


Wages  for experiential staff


Professional coordinator

Free food


Staff team

Training and employment  project - shop

Renovation crew


Wages for experiential staff


Funding for Summit

Partnership with national NGO

Resources to  develop web-site Funding for staff  and projects


Creation of VSCA  and  Medewiwin Housing


Eventual closing of VSCA

Creation of construction training program

Renovation project

Sandy Merriman House



Stories project show and book

Eventual closing of PEERS Place

Stories - PEERS

Research reports

Training projects

Street outreach

Public education


Agenda and Declaration for Action

Into the Light

Sacred Lives


BC Coalition of


Women Curriculum National Coalition of Experiential Women

Issues and Obstacles

Ongoing  interpersonal conflict among participants

Limited capacity Ongoing need for outside help

Unrealistic  expectations on part of gov’t

Lack of funding, Lack of indigenous leadership 

Ideological differences among staff

Large distance between staff  and  participants

Street women didn’t have voice in second part of project

Staff conflict

Conflict between change agent and Board

Ongoing need for training

Lack of experiential people for Board

Atmosphere of constant crises Struggle for funding

Lack of funding and leadership for PEERS Place

Lack of tolerance for experiential involvement at NGO

Unrealistic expectations resulting in severe stress

Need for ongoing support

Constant travel

Ongoing need for non-experiential support Difficulty  in finding core operating funding for experiential organization Constant travel

Points of transform-

ation, successes, key moments

Homeless men  became part of the solution not just an item on everyone’s agenda  Participated in community

Sense of pride in having their own place

Street Meet offered an opportunity for bridging


Sandy’s death highlighted the need for a different way of deciding things

Collaborative process would have helped bring agreement on goals and principles

Need to continue group planning process even when women became participants in the project

Construction training project

Opening of Sandy Merriman House

PEERS respected position in community

Visible staff capacity building and success after they leave PEERS

Change in attitudes toward sex trade

Ongoing relationships Indigenous leadership

Tolerance for crises

Community support  Programs and services for STW’s that they design, develop, and implement

Summit that resulted in Agenda and Declaration for Action presented to UN

Summit planning flexible and responsive

Change in approach, language understanding of issue world wide

Recognition of need for partnership Impact on how province responds to issueSupport for development of national

organization of sex workers to address sexual exploitation and needs of sex workers

Appendix E

Qualities of Change Agent in Transformative Community Practice


Appendix F

Community Partners in Transformative Community Practice

Activist Groups

  • Advocacy Organizations

  • Anti-poverty groups

  • Feminist Organizations

  • Special event planning groups

  • Dec 6th (a day of remembrance and a day of action on violence against women in Canada)

  • International Women’s Day

  • Take Back the Night

  • Queer groups

  • Women’s Centres - community & university or college

Educational Institutions

  • Employment Training Agencies

  • Employment training

  • Life-Skills training

  • Pre-employment training programs

  • Primary & Secondary Schools

  • Individual classroom teachers

  • Parent Advisory Councils

  • School board

  • School principals & counsellors

  • Post-Secondary Institutions

  • Career & trades training

  • College pre-employment training courses

  • Community-University Research Partnership Projects

  • Practicuum students

  • Schools of Social Work, Nursing, Women’s Studies

  • Upgrading programs


  • Federal

  • National elected representatives

  • Policy & program staff

  • Municipal

  • City Manager’s Office

  • Community Development Division

  • Mayor and Council

  • Police Department

  • Chief, Deputy & Inspectors/Senior Management

  • Police Board or other civilian governance oversight group

  • Vice Squad

  • Social Planning Department

  • Provincial

  • Appropriate Ministries - policy and program staff

  • Members of provincial or state legislature

  • Regional

  • Committees

  • Regional Health Authority


  • Daily newspaper

  • Free community papers

  • Individual journalists

  • Local television stations

  • Radio - university, public and commercial

  • Women’s magazines

Private Sector Interests

  • Business Community

  • Chamber of Commerce

  • Local family businesses

  • Local financial institutions

  • Tourism Associations

  • Churches, mosques & synagogues

  • Philanthropists

  • Individuals

  • Local Foundations

  • Service Clubs


  • Health

  • Addictions treatment services

  • AIDS Agencies

  • De-tox

  • Emergency room personnel

  • Individual doctors

  • Mental Health Support Services

  • People with AIDS organizations

  • Public Health

  • Psychiatrists

  • Street nurses

  • Homeless

  • Drop-in programs

  • Shelters

  • Youth Services

  • Health clinics

  • Street outreach

  • Youth serving agencies