Where I belong: public spaces and everyday acts of inclusion seeks to increase our understanding of practices within public spaces that promote belonging among racialized, newcomer youth.
This project explores, pilots, and evaluates how public spaces can foster inclusion and belonging.
Our focus is specifically on practices that fall outside the boundaries of standard approaches to inclusion and integration processes.
The three-phased research plan is grounded in collaborative teamwork and co-creation methodology. This project also provides work integrated learning opportunities for Bow Valley College students.
Our applied research team's work is set apart by its collaborative approach. Where I Belong offers the team an opportunity to work with community partners that share our commitment to better understand how to foster belonging and inclusion for newcomer youth in public spaces.
The Calgary Public Library empowers community by connecting people to ideas and experiences, inspiration, and insight. The library places inclusion, curiosity, and collaboration at the core of both their organization and its work. Project work for Where I Belong takes place in the flagship Central Library as well as locations such as Forest Lawn, Saddletowne, Village Square, and Seton.
In 2021 our research started with an initial survey of youth ages 16 – 19 who had accessed the Calgary Public Library (CPL) in the past three years. After conversations with our project partners, we expanded the scope of the project to include all youth library users between the ages of 16-19, not just those who self-identify as racialized to explore the disconnection and loss of access to public spaces that affected all youth, regardless of background, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Findings from this first survey helped to inform the design and deployment of a second survey (deployed online and in person) in the project’s second phase. The second phase also included interviews with Racialized youth and observations in public spaces. Using a co-design approach with a team of youth, we are creating, piloting, and evaluating installations and activities in public spaces in the third phase.
Phase 1: Initial data collection and analysis (April 2021-February 2022)
Phase 2: Follow up and in-person surveys, interviews, and observations (March 2022-Decmber 2022)
Phase 3: Co-design, piloting and evaluation (January 2023-June 2024)
Where I Belong aims to be iterative by design, where research and implementation, and evaluation and knowledge mobilization are in constant communication.