The Guild for Social Fieldwork is an initiative of Economics for Peace Institute. The Institute advances grassroots social science to inform community and regional planning.
Social fieldwork is practical research that ensures real local input is at the table when public decisions are made. The Guild brings researchers and local people together to ensure this important groundwork for democracy. The institute fosters social fieldwork by local people so place-based communities can come together around baseline indicators of community well-being and ecosystem stewardship. Without this work, we remain both without a rudder and disoriented as to which horizon beckons our better futures.
In the Fall of 2022, the Institute plans to launch a Guild for Social Fieldwork membership program and will rebuild this site prior.
The notion of a collaborative hub for participatory action research (PAR) resources and training emerged during a 3-day workshop held in Portland in 2009. The workshop invited participants from across the country. It was run by Economics for Peace Institute with funding from the USDA PNW Forest Service.
The development of this organization has required considerable refinement and adaptation to changing conditions. For instance, the coining of social fieldwork as a more accessible term for PAR emerged in 2017 along with the initial conceptual framework for the Guild. This followed much work in 2016 in which she engaged in intensive learning and development with the Board of Directors at the time: Damun Gracenin, PhD, Margaret Owens, and epi Founder, Myriem Le Ferrand. Myriem was prompted to simplify.
In the spring of 2017, Myriem built this first site to flesh out the conceptual possibility of an online hub in wordpress.org. The site launched still in beta in 2020 and remains in beta form. Through the cooperation of many individuals and because of the cascading ecological and social crisis, it becomes easier ad easier to explain the necessity of social fieldwork. People are ready for leadership to make better decisions with better information.
Place-Based Research – Fieldwork by Local People
Rather than relying on polls, surveys or demographics for a set of indices, social fieldwork builds on active participation with local people. Representative government fails not only because of election fraud and the corrupting influence of campaign contributions. Our democracy fails because decision-makers do not benefit from good information including real local input. Social fieldwork improves the quality of information used to make public decisions.
Fieldwork and Quality of Life
As the Institute advocates, social fieldwork places attention on quality of life as expressed in daily life. Through consistent application of social fieldwork in a community, local people can co-create enduring markers (or indicators) of where they want to go. These indicators establish a baseline against which to assess changes in quality of life. A baseline is essential to assessing costs and benefits of change – whether naturally occurring, historic, proposed or mandatory.