The centrality of storytelling at the nexus of academia and community organizing in rural Kentucky

Nicole Breazeale, Dana Beasley-Brown, Samantha Johnson, Alexa Hatcher

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter describes two university-community collaborations initiated and led by community organizers and directly affected populations in rural Kentucky (USA). One focused on housing insecurity and the other on food insecurity. Both combined critical PAR (CPAR) and critical CD, creating the possibility for a different kind of outcome - one with long-lasting impacts given the context of a regional college, where the boundary between "student" and "community member" falls away. The first case speaks to systemic change that is possible when CPAR and critical CD are combined. Beyond policy change, the second case illustrates the personal transformation that occurs as marginalized students transition into community development leaders that spearhead new projects at the nexus of CPAR and critical CD. A key to success of these projects is the power of narrative, rooted in the intellectual traditions of Friere (1970) and Ganz (2009). It is through public story sharing about everyday struggles to access basic needs that folk knowledge and experiences of oppression are validated, and critical consciousness develops. Personal narratives can then be transformed into public narratives as new leaders find their voices and use these stories to unlock spaces for community dialogue, a critical "success" in rural America where open deliberation about social inequality is rare. These cases illustrate that for CD to continue across time, you need both critical consciousness and community organizing skills.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook on Participatory Action Research and Community Development
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781839100970
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Randy Stoecker and Adrienne Falcón 2022. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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