Williamstown is embarking on a research project to better understand safety and wellbeing in our town, and we need your help! This research will help us explore how Williamstown provides for public safety now, how residents feel about their own safety, and how we can create a greater sense of well-being and belonging.
The Town of Williamstown is conducting a community-based participatory research project to learn more about public safety in our town. Community-based participatory research (CBPR) is an approach that starts with and includes the community. It is based in the community, and community members participate in every step of the process. Instead of a researcher saying, “I’m curious about X, so I’m going to study it,” community members start the process because there is something they want to learn or change about their own community.
For the past year, community members in Williamstown have been speaking up – on social media, in Select Board and other town meetings, and in conversations with their neighbors – about how safe (or unsafe) and welcome (or unwelcome) they feel in our town. These conversations are similar to those happening across our country as people consider what public safety means and how (and for whom) our society ensures it. At the same time, these conversations are unique to Williamstown, because they are about how people feel right here at home.
In collaboration with a group of social workers who call Williamstown home, the Town of Williamstown decided to learn more by hiring a Research Director for Community Assessment and Engagement who, along with an outreach specialist and advisory group, has launched an assessment of safety and wellbeing in our town.
This community-based participatory research project has multiple components, including:
We want to hear from as many community members as possible, and especially from those who feel unsafe, unwelcome, or excluded in our town. If we want to live in a community where everyone feels safe, welcome, and included, we need to know what is preventing that from being true right now.
We also need to hear from people who do feel safe, welcome, and included, so we can understand both what is working and what is not. In other words, if you want to be involved, you are welcome!