For the past 15 weeks, I have worked on a research project examining social justice issues in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois. The local chapter of Not In Our Town (NIOT), a non-profit organization that fights against bigotry and discrimination, commissioned my graduate sociology class to ‘hold up a mirror’ of the Bloomington-Normal community, reflecting back the good and the bad.
The project was wide in scope. We conducted focus groups and interviews, analyzed crime and segregation data, produced GIS maps, analyzed archival research and performed case studies of best practices employed by other community organizations. What we found was both disheartening and hopeful.
The results from this project were publicly presented to local residents, community leaders, elected officials, as well as faculty and students of Illinois State University.
Prior to the presentation, I participated in a radio interview with the local public radio. I was joined by two of my colleagues who also participated in the research. Some of the findings that were shared in the radio interview can be found HERE.
The professor of the course, Dr. Frank Beck, also interview with the local radio station and shared some information about the project as well as some of the findings. Further information from that interview can also be found in this article.
Overall, the project was very rewarding. We learned a lot about the community we all live in. I am excited for the future of Bloomington-Normal and for the implications of our research.