To acquire wisdom, one must observe

The PARC Community Engagement Group: building community based response to violence

The Prevention, Advocacy & Resource Center (PARC) Community Engagement Group is a new group that was started by Eva Bohn ’22. Bohn explained that she spent the summer of 2020 working on a project with PARC which involved creating the PARC Community Engagement Group in an interview with The Brandeis Hoot. Bohn explained, “something I was thinking about a lot is how we can build more community based responses to violence.” She also explained that sometimes, there is this false idea that individuals who have experienced violence cannot participate in anti-violence work until they have healed. Bohn wants to break down this barrier and provide space for those who are still healing to participate in activism due to the fact that some people benefit from receiving support and others gain empowerment from finding ways to help others. In the fall of 2020, Bohn and Sarah Baum ’22 started the group together to test out ideas to determine what works and what does not. This year, the team has expanded. The team consists of facilitators Bohn, Baum, Tali Gordon-Knight ’24 and Priya Sashti ’24. 


Previously, the team focused on working with people who had more directly experienced violence themselves but now they have realized that, as Bohn explained, “even if people experienced the exact same type of violence, their experiences of it and the way it affects their life is going to be different—and that will depend on individual differences in their identities and what larger structures they are a part of, so we don’t really want to homogenize that.” She continued, “People can be deeply impacted by experiences of violence that maybe didn’t happen directly to them, but maybe they see people they care about experience violence, maybe in their communities and a lot of violence, maybe just in the world, seeing a lot of violence can impact people … I want to expand our conception of peoples experience of violence, so that it could apply to anybody, but our criteria is more about whether or not you’re interested in drawing upon your own experience to contribute to community building and anti-violence work.” Therefore, the team has worked towards becoming more inclusive and allowing individuals to join the group as long as they desire to use their own experiences to assist in anti-violence work. This will allow individuals to aid each other in their healing process. 


Currently, the team is preparing the resources for future meetings, which will start in the spring semester. The team plans to open the group up to others in the spring semester when they will have weekly group meetings. The team is trying to spread the word on social media and recruit new members for the group. The meetings will consist of going over readings about anti-violence work and videos and having people speak at these meetings occasionally. In addition, the team plans to conduct community building activities. After conducting a few of these meetings, they are planning to begin working on a community anti-violence project on a subject that the group has chosen. This hopefully will aid individuals in their healing process by providing them with the space and resources they need in order to heal. 


The team plans to interact with people differently based on what they need. Bohn explained that previously the team would meet with people privately before they joined the group, to understand what they are looking for in this space and what support they may need. The team plans to do the same while conducting the group in the spring semester. The group is open to individuals with all sorts of backgrounds and hopes to provide individuals with the support they need to heal and move forward in their lives.


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