A NLU Community

Cultivating our Strengths, Creating Bridges to Community

Leave a comment

The Importance of Supporting Each Other When Our Minds are in “The Cloud”

Community psychologists are a unique breed of scientist concerned about: serious social problems, structural/political errors in broad systemic functioning, and often interested in creating cultural change for the benefit of highly vulnerable communities. We are dealing with extremely important issues that affect the lives of people we care deeply about and we want answers!

The traditional culture of science is to be objective, rational, and focused on our own individual contributions by being original. However, community scientists seek the answers to highly complex questions that require us to think outside the box and are often not the result of individual accomplishments. These goals require that we ask ourselves important less explored questions of the world of science:

  • What must our process of science look like in community psychology?
  • How must we proceed to explore the answers to our questions, especially when the answers seem so unclear?

In an effort to answer these questions, I’d like to share this TED video with you which features a Physicist by the name Uri Alon. Uri provides a 15 minute talk on how channeling and supporting the creative process is a necessary part of conducting research. I believe Uri is really onto something with the idea of “The Cloud” and I hope you will agree.

Video Link: http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=ted+talks+uri+alon&FORM=VIRE3#view=detail&mid=78EFC444A25F4645C8A778EFC444A25F4645C8A7

“The Cloud” is a concept that Uri created to deal with the lack of certainty a scientist experiences when seeking answers to research questions. It is a messy space that stands guard between the known and unknown. Acknowledging this cloud is a way to allow ourselves the creative space to explore the potentially important possible answers to your questions.

It is easy to feel like somewhat of an impostor in the process of conducting research, but we can change the culture of science in our own day to day practice by believing we and others have the capacity to solve our most serious social problems. The science of community psychology research is about getting to the answers. It’s about being passionate about finding the answers and learning how to sit within the messiness of The Cloud so that we seek out resources when we are stuck. It’s also about feeling supported and supporting each other in the process. We can do this by accepting others’ ideas and supporting them by saying “yes and”.

Resources for us can be many! It can be our cohort peers, our faculty advisors, our peer practitioners in the field, literature, or the community partners we are, or are not, connected to. We must acknowledge that The Cloud is a key part of the process toward finding the answers. I hope you will consider The Cloud in your work as community psychologists and embrace it as part of our mutually supportive creative process and unique culture of practicing science at NLU.

-Tiffeny R. Jimenez, Ph.D.


Leave a comment

Who Are We?

I’ve seen a lot of definitions of community psychology but none have felt “right”.  While trying to come up with a definition, I decided not to do the: “Community psychology is ______, we do_______” formula and, instead, focused on a more free-flow, “What does it feel like” definition. I’m a counselor after all. It has to feel right!

Here it is. My own, personal definition of community psychology.


Who are we?

We are examiners of structures. We are people that ask “Why?” and “How?” and “Why?” again.  We are movers that organize. We are voices that protest. We are speakers that dialogue. We are the silent, unrecognized shakers. We believe in good and strength and people. And, we believe that those people are the experts of their own lives.  We don’t believe in sacrificing lives of some. We don’t believe in teaching; we believe in unleashing empowerment. We are, as Zoe Weil puts it, solutionaries. We hold on to the crazy idea that the world can be a better place, that it should be a better place, that it can be. We speak different languages, look different, come from different backgrounds. We might, before you’re ready, ask, “What’s next?”  We smile when we read Freire. We revel in the paradox. We are community psychologists.


-Caly Meyers, PhD Student at National Louis University

Leave a comment

Ecological Community Psychology: A Video/Photovoice Project

This video was created by students in Cohort four. During a Community Organizing class, the students looked at green issues in the city of Chicago. As they thought about creating a definition for Ecological Community Psychology, they embarked on a video/photovoice project in Millennium Park. This video showcases videos/photos taken by the students and contains reflections on the process.


Leave a comment

An Interview with Robert Castillo, Marriage Equality Activist

This interview was conducted by Norma Seledon, PhD Student at National Louis University.

N: When do you feel you became an activist?

R: I had actually organized local youth and neighbors to try and save our local softball field from being turned into a parking lot (Goethe Playground, 2250 N Rockwell in Chicago) in my late teens so that would be when I got my first taste of activism and, unfortunately, the first taste of defeat. It wasn’t until I attended NEIU and got involved with the GLA that I actually became somewhat of a queer activist, especially on campus and I even served on Student Senate.

N: Why did you get involved in gay marriage activism? (how was your interest, passion born/awoken?)

R: Me and my late husband John first asked for, and were denied, a marriage license in 1991 at the Cook County Marriage License Bureau. We were dating at the time but knew that legal recognition of same-sex relationships was important to us and the queer  community. The action was sponsored by Citizens for Gay Action.

N: How long have you been active in pursuing marriage equality?

R: Since 1991 (20+ years)

N: What do you consider your major gains along the way?

R: Working on the Cook County Human Rights Ordinance with Queer Nation, Being 1/2 of an out proud visible couple in Logan Square, Cook County Domestic Partnership Registry, Helping pass the Gender Identity Amendment for City of  Chicago, Marching in both the Puerto Rican & Mexican parades with ALMA, getting married to John in a very visible and public way, being an out proud queer Latino activist.

N: How large a role has media played (both news media and hollywood/tv)?

R: Me and John used the media to share our fight for marriage and I think that media has contributed greatly to the growing acceptance of the queer community but sometimes I worry that people will get burned out by LGBT media coverage.

N: From your perspective, tell me about the dynamics of the community that was seeking marriage equality? (internal politics, synergy, frustration, differing values, cheer-leading, etc…) Did any cultural, language, economic striations impact your community’s work? 

R: One of the issues I have worked on was to make sure that Latinos and other communities of color were visible within the LGBTQ community. Very frustrating work at times especially when the most recent push for marriage happened. The images put forth were sorely lacking in Latino representation and no Latino legislators were featured in the campaign. I felt that the Latino community needed to see leaders who supported marriage equality. The bill eventually passed and EVERY Latin@ legislator voted YES! We hear often that communities of color are more homophobic but yet Latin@ legislators have been among the most consistent supporters of LGBT equality.

N: What was it like being an activist with your life partner?

R: It was an amazing ride, especially the times we ended up getting arrested together. John was my rock. For me it made the issue more personal and more immediate.

N: Did you and John have different activism personalities? (i.e., one was riskier, conservative, loud, diplomatic, etc…)

R: John was the sweet to my sour. I was more outspoken but he was no less determined and I think we were the perfect compliments.

N: Did John’s loss impact your life in activism?

R: Yes it did and continues to impact me. I’m sorry that John didn’t get to see Obama and Quinn come around on marriage equality and I have to say that being at the bill signing ceremony for the marriage equality bill was one of the most surreal moments  in my life. I felt so empty and alone in a room full of thousands.

Being at LGBT events now often makes me sad because it is a stark reminder that John is no longer besides me though I’m sure he still walks with me…

 I will stop here because I am tearing up. Feel free to email me any follow up questions you or your class may have.


For more info on this activist couple go to their page on Chicago Gay History:



Leave a comment

Savoring the Community Psychology Journey

I recently completed my last class in the Community Psychology program at National Louis University (note I said class and not degree program). While I continue to work toward completing a dissertation and look forward to researching and presenting my work at future conferences, I look back at the two and a half years spent learning statistics, theories, techniques, and principles of community psychology and search for a lesson, a best practice, or something I can pass along to future students. Is it about time management, attention to detail, writing and rewriting, and then doing it all over again to get to a final paper that will prove your abilities? Of course, it is all of that and more, but ultimately I think I would advise anyone who is working toward a PhD to concentrate on the journey.

You can’t wait to see what you’ll be reading and you purchase your books for the class. With great anticipation you begin to read about theories of multiculturalism, empowerment, sense of community.There are power points and lectures, all interesting and informative, But the rich narratives from your Professors as they speak about their research, your classmates’ stories about working with community organizations to address gang problems, advocating for the homeless, working with youth in county juvenile detention, and so on—these are the things that make Community Psychology come alive. Collaborating on papers and projects with fellow classmates who come from diverse backgrounds and careers and learning from their lived experiences is invaluable.

In the rush of completing a project or preparing for a presentation, appreciation for lengthy conversations dwindles and a chaotic rush to FINISH takes hold. I don’t propose slacking by any means, and make sure you cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s , and always, always, use APA style. But you will reach your destination with so much more insight and knowledge if you take the time to savor the journey.

-Lori Markuson, PhD Student at National Louis University

Leave a comment

SCRA 2013

As I write this, I’m high over the skies of South Carolina, on my way to my first SCRA conference in Miami. Already, I’m impressed with SCRA’s ability to create a community—as I read about luncheons, social media boards, speakers, and workshops on SCRA’s Facebook and Twitter page. No doubt, a conference with 600 attendees would not be easy to juggle (especially after reading Scot Evan’s tweets!) but so far, so good.  Maybe it is the community psychologist in me, but I can’t wait to meet loads of wonderful people who will be speaking, attending, and discussing this week.  I feel as if I’m already there. For me, that’s the power of social media. And, in order to leverage that power, my classmates, professors and I will be active on NLU’s community psychology blog and Facebook page. We will share lessons learned, funny moments, and future questions. Feel free to follow me personally on twitter or instagram; otherwise, keep a close eye on NLU Community Psychology’s Facebook page. Welcome to Miami, my fellow community psychology learners.

-Caly Meyers, PhD Student at National Louis University