My research practices are driven by the ethos of participatory research, in which people who are most directly impacted by an issue participate fully alongside the researcher in designing, implementing, and analyzing research projects. In my current role at Win, for example, I ensure that residents of shelter and supportive housing are directly involved in my department’s ongoing research projects. Through workshops, ongoing surveys, and leadership development, we bring families experiencing homelessness directly into the research that is so often produced without their input. I learned this approach through years of working closely with Picture the Homeless (pictured above), a homeless-led activist group in New York City that fought for housing justice and civil rights for homeless New Yorkers.
Scholars and activists often work together, but rarely do those collaborations extend beyond individual projects or campaigns. This division often creates epistemic divides between the knowledge of activists, especially those directly impacted by injustice, and the work of academics working in close solidarity. To remedy this, I co-founded Power at the Margins, a research collaborative that brings together activists, practicioners, and scholars working toward housing justice. As the lead project manager, I organized a series of gatherings, culminating in a major conference at the University of Minnesota in March of 2018 that brought over 70 scholars and activists together to share their work from around the globe. Many said it was the best gathering of their careers. Power at the Margins 2.0., scheduled to take place this March at UC-Berkeley but postponed due to COVID-19, drew over 150 leading collaborators from all over the globe.