Community program evaluations, visioning and assessments must always endeavor to attain useful information in the most sensitive way. Most community-based organizations form, grow and continue on their own without the help of outside experts. Participatory approaches should respect the historical evolution of these groups and understand the positive factors that underlie their organizational beliefs. A group’s mission, values and identity should inform any community program evaluation, consulting project, and the design of any research study. Narrative methods have been used with mutual-help groups and many other organizations to good effect (Harré, Bullen, & Olson, 2006; Rappaport, 2000). Such methods have great potential to avoid hierarchical and unidirectional forms of evaluation, encouraging the group’s collective psychology and identity-based constructs to emerge. We developed a participatory, narrative technique called Community Narration (CN), which is described here. The technique utilizes personal stories and community narratives as an entry into the evaluation process or other work involved in understanding an organization. The community’s participants were able to use the technique successfully, found it enriching, and the constructs obtained have led to many discussions and memberguided research related to the organization.
Olson, B.D., & Jason, L.A. (2011). The community narration (CN) approach: Understanding a group’s identity and cognitive constructs through personal and community narratives. Global Journal of Community Psychology Practice, 2(1), 1-7. Retrieved , from http://www.gjcpp.org/