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

Works Cited

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Works Consulted

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[1] Throughout this work, I will use the female pronoun to refer to the change agent and the experiential community member.

[2]The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted and proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly, Resolution 217 A (III), 10 December 1948. The full text is available on-line at in many other languages including English.

[3]The scope of this literature review is limited. It does not contain a history of community organizing. Such     a history can be found within many sources (Fisher and Romanofsky; Fisher and Shragge; Garvin and Cox; Kahn; Mizrahi; Rothman, Approaches; Weil).

[4]Jennifer Rudkin is a community psychologist and author of an important new text, Community Psychology: Guiding Principles and Orienting Concepts. She is also a member of my doctoral committee.

[5]For a sampling of materials that reflect the full spectrum of this argument see Acker 201; Castelloe, Watson, and White 14; East 323; Fawcett 624; Gittell and Vidal 22; Gutierrez 207; Hyde 550.

[6]See Acker 201; Castelloe, Watson and White 3; East 323; Gittell and Vidal 25; Grahame 385; Gutierrez and Lewis 40; Hyde 550; Joseph et al 3; McKnight Ideas 12 for a few examples.

[7]See Acker 201; Berkowitz 334; Castelloe, Watson, and White 3; East 311; Gittell and Vidal 53; Gutierrez 207; Hyde 550; Kahn 121; and Yeich 113 for a sampling of scholars who write about the importance of involvement.

[8] By “new setting,” Sarason means a new program or service.

[9] See Appendix B for PEERS’ philosophical stance as published in the journal, Violence Against Women.

[10]Unfortunately, the details of her dismissal cannot be discussed because of an on-going court case.

[11]  Consciousness raising is a process of shared personal dialogue which developed during the  North American women’s movement of the mid to late twentieth century.

[12]Even though I am not convinced that, in the long run, we need prostitution at all I don’t think it is my  place to suggest that women who want to keep working in the trade should not do so. Within that context, maybe a collectively owned and operated escort business is not a bad idea.

[13]See Chapter 3, page 84 for Cherry’s words.

[14]These limits are based on generalizations and stereotypes.  There are exceptional individuals in every field and their work is significant and not meant to be disregarded by this framework.   

[15]Out from the Shadows: International Summit of Sexually Exploited Youth was held in Victoria, Canada in March 1998. To view the full text of the Declaration and Agenda for Action go to

Glossary of Terms

Activism. The activity of working for social justice.

Bad Date. Violent or abusive trick.

Capacity Building. The process of developing skills, abilities and faculties, individually and collectively. It is not the development of a temporary set of situation specific skills but an increase in the overall capacity to function.

CBC. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, a federally funded public radio and television network.

Change Agent. Also agent for change. A person dedicated to the progressive transformation of society personally and professionally (usually). A term chosen to identify the professional community change practitioner. Historically such a role was commonly called community organizer. In my lifetime, I have identified as a feminist activist, community activist or change facilitator. I have chosen change agent from the literature for the purposes of this paper because I find it both descriptive and powerful.

CMHC. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, a federal government agency.

Critical Consciousness. A critical understanding of the broader social, cultural, political, and economic contexts in which one lives (Castelloe, Watson and White 10).

Community Theory. Literature that provides description and analysis of a wide range of community practice methodologies.

Community Practice. A conceptual umbrella for a range of practice approaches, orientations, and models that have emerged in the combined arena of community organizing and social work (Weil 6).

Community Organizing. A phrase used to denote working in a community for social justice and using a grassroots model. Commonly associated with the work of Saul Alinsky. Intentional activities begun by one person, or a small group, to bring people together in a structured fashion in order to take joint action to improve quality of life in a lasting manner for the people organized, and for the broader community (Berkowitz 333).

Consciousness Raising. A process of communicating and sharing experience identified with feminism. It is a common technique of meeting in small groups and speaking in rounds. The process results in increased awareness of individual and collective experiences of sexism and other forms of oppression.

Date. A trick, john or customer who is buying sex.

Declaration and Agenda for Action. A document developed by the youth who attended the Summit and which they presented to the UN General Assembly in the spring of 1998.

Dialogic Education. The idea that educators and students interact with one another in a way in which all are co-speakers, co-learners, and co-actors (Castelloe, Watson and White 10).

Downtown Women’s Project. A project designed to address the needs of homeless and street-entrenched women in Victoria, BC, Canada, that took place from January 1994 to December 1995.

Engagement. The use of the word engagement to describe involvement is less common, but implies a degree of agency and action not present in participation which can be, and often is, passive. The dictionary states that engagement includes the act of having one’s attention compelled by an activity or enterprise.

Empowerment. The state of having a sense of control over one’s life and the experience of having actual control over the circumstances and conditions that affect one’s life, combined with a positive sense of self and healthy self-esteem; the process by which people, organizations, and communities gain mastery (Rappaport Terms122). An intentional, ongoing process centered in the local community, involving mutual respect, critical reflection, caring, and group participation, through which people lacking an equal share of valued resources gain greater access to and control over those resources (Cornell Empowerment Group qtd. in Zimmerman 43).

Exiting. A term commonly used to mean leaving or quitting the sex trade.

Experiential Person. A person who has intimate, day-to-day lived experience of an issue, either currently or in the past. A short-hand way of saying “having personal experience of the concern being discussed.” For example, when working on addictions, people who are, or were, addicts are experiential.

Experiential Knowing. “Direct, face-to-face encounters with a person, place, or thing; it is knowing through empathy and resonance, that kind of in-depth knowing that is almost impossible to put into words. Presentational knowing grows out of experiential knowing and provides the first form of expression through story, drawing, sculpture, movement, and dance, drawing on aesthetic imagery. Propositional knowing draws on concepts and ideas, and practical knowing consummates the other forms of knowing in action in the world” (Minkler & Wallerstein 207).

Facilitator. Someone who helps a group by providing guidance and direction enabling the members of the group to engage in dialogue, in order to engage in a process or create a shared vision.

Feminism. A theoretical and social movement to promote the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes societies that have long privileged men as a group. Definitions of feminism vary. Today there are many feminisms, each with its own complicated history and point of view. Early feminist writing encompassed a broad mix of personal story, theory, fiction, poetry, passionate essay and blurred genres. Among the feminists who have most influenced my own thinking are: Adrienne Rich, Alice Walker, Audre Lorde, Dorothy Allison, Gloria Anzaldua, Joan Nestle, Judy Rebick, Marge Piercy, Minnie Bruce Pratt, Rosemary Brown, Sheri S. Tepper, Starhawk, Susan Griffin, and Ursula Le Guin.

Heterarchy. A form of organization based on collaborative decisions rather than hierarchical structures. A heterarchy is a network rather than a hierarchy.

High Track. Sex workers who ask some of the highest prices, and who tend to be the “best-kept” and best looking sex workers on the street. High track is almost always pimped. Can also refer to the location on the street where high track women work.

ICCEC. International Centre to Combat the Exploitation of Children, a centre created by Cherry Kingsley intended to act as a conduit between policy makers, researchers, practitioners and sexually exploited youth. See for more information on the Centre.

Ideology. The body of ideas reflecting the interests of a group of people. “Within U.S. culture, racist and sexist ideologies permeate the social structure to such a degree that they become hegemonic, namely, seen as natural, normal, and inevitable” (Hill Collins 5).

Indigenous Leadership. Leadership that emerges from within the community of focus, whether that community is based on geography, race, gender, class or shared experience.

Initiative. Any outcome of a community process including projects, programs, gatherings, movements, campaigns or new settings.

Inque[e]ry: Lesbian, Bi, Trans, and Two-Spirited Women’s Research Network of BC. The mission statement follows: Inque[e]ry is committed to the creation of an accessible, inclusive, and diverse network of people who identify as lesbian, dyke, bisexual, (FTM and MTF) transgendered, queer, homosexual and Two-Spirited women and who are doing research on issues related to that identification in British Columbia.

Inter-ministerial Committee. A committee made up of representatives from many ministries. In the case of the Downtown Women’s Project, the committee included representatives from the following provincial bodies: Ministry of Skills Training and Labour, Ministry of Social Services, Ministry of Employment & Investment, Ministry of Women’s Equality, BC Housing Management Corporation and the Provincial Rental Housing Corporation.

Intersectionality. These are particular forms of intersecting oppressions, for example, intersections of race and gender, or of sexuality and nation. “Intersectional paradigms remind us that oppressions work together in producing injustice. In contrast, the matrix of domination refers to how these intersecting oppressions are actually organized. Regardless of the particular intersections involved, structural, disciplinary, hegemonic, and interpersonal domains of power reappear across quite different forms of oppression” (Hill Collins 18).

International Women’s Day (IWD). In 1908, socialist women in the United States initiated the first Women's Day when large demonstrations took place calling for the vote and the political and economic rights of women. It is now celebrated around the world on March 8th.

Knowledge Network. British Columbia’s provincial public television network.

Margin. Socially and culturally speaking, an outer edge or a limit beyond which persons or things cease to exist, be possible or tolerable.

Marginalize. The act of causing people to live on the margins of society by excluding them from participation.

Medewiwin. Ojibway word for an ancient society that provided people with the means to protect themselves from hunger and disease; the name chosen for the VSCA housing project by its first residents.

Men at PEERS. A PEERS’ project designed to research the concerns of men and boys in the sex trade and to educate the public on the topic.

NDP. New Democratic Party, a social democratic political party in Canada.

Oppression. “Any unjust situation where, systematically and over a long period of time, one group denies another group access to the resources of society” (Hill Collins 4).

PACE. Prostitution Alternatives Counselling Education, an experiential organization in Vancouver.

Participative Worldview. A view that involves an extended epistemology, with a notion of reality as both subjective and objective, drawing on diverse forms of knowing as we encounter and act in our world (Minkler and Wallerstein 206).

PEERS. The Prostitutes’ Empowerment, Education and Resource Society, a service organization created and managed by, and for, current and former sex workers. The first PEERS organization was incorporated in 1995, in Victoria, BC, Canada. A second PEERS group has been incorporated in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Other communities across Canada are in the process of developing PEERS organizations as well. PEERS hone number is 250-388-5325 and the website address is

Popular Education. Associated with the work of Paulo Freire, popular education is based on two processes, learning from experience and dialogue (Castelloe, Watson and White 9).

Radical. A term widely used to mean a person who favours or effects fundamental or revolutionary changes in current practices, conditions, or institutions.

Regular. A trick or john who purchases sex from the same sex worker on a regular basis.

Sandy Merriman House. An emergency shelter for homeless and street women in Victoria, BC, Canada that resulted from the Downtown Women’s Project and opened in December 1996.

Sex Industry. A range of ventures that include prostitution, erotic and pornographic films, phone sex, stripping, and escort agencies.

Sexual Exploitation. Abusive or exploitative sexual activities involving coercion or undue pressure. A term that is commonly used to refer to any commercial sexual activities with someone under the age of 18.

Spiritual Activism. A phrase coined by Gloria Anzaldua to describe working for radical social change by looking “beyond the illusion of separate interests to shared interest” (Anzaldua and Keating 573).

Square. Slang for person who has never worked in the sex trade. More generally, the term refers to people who have never lived on the margins of society.

Standpoint Theory. This theory was developed independently by a number of established feminist scholars and thinkers including Sandra Harding and Dorothy E. Smith. As Smith states, “I proposed women’s standpoint as one situated outside textually mediated discourses in the actualities of our everyday lives. This is a standpoint designed in part by our exclusion from the making of cultural and intellectual discourse and strategies of resorting to our experience as the ground of a new knowledge, a new culture” (107).

Stroll. An area where street prostitution takes place. Also called the track.

Summit. Shorthand for Out from the Shadows: International Summit of Sexually  Exploited Youth held in Victoria, BC, March 1998.

Sweep. A slang term used to describe police activity when they arrest sex workers and their customers in order to clean up an area, often in response to complaints from property owners.

Ten toes to the corner. An expression that refers to standing on the street as opposed to working at an indoor venue like an escort agency. Somewhat similar to the surfer expression, “hang ten.”

Transformative Community Practice (TCP). A method of working in a community that includes its experiential members in the design, development and implementation of outcomes. TCP requires that the community in question plays a decision-making role at every stage in the process. “Transformative community practice seeks to change (1) how individual people in the community see themselves, developing deeper understanding of who they are and what they can accomplish; (2) how they see themselves in relationship with others in the community, building a collective identity and senses of common purpose and efficacy; and (3) how people outside the community view the community and its people” (O’Donnell & Karanja 75).

Visualization. According to Shakti Gawain, a technique of using your imagination to create what you want in your life. Gawain wrote “Creative Visualization” in the early 1980's. It is a term used by many to describe the conscious process of imagining a goal or outcome, and asking for spiritual help to achieve it.

VSCA. Victoria Street Community Association was a peer led organization of homeless people, primarily men incorporated in 1992.

Working. This is a widely used short hand for working in the sex trade or turning tricks.

Worldview. A way of looking at the world, a paradigm, a personal framework: “The emergent worldview has been described as systemic, holistic, relational, feminine, and experiential, but its defining characteristic is that it is participatory” (Minkler & Wallerstein 206).