The Center for Community Engagement in OtR is an internship programme developed by Professor Tom Dutton at Miami University School of Architecture in Oxford, Ohio. Dutton is an educator, a critical theorist, an urban theorist, a community organiser and a political activist who fits within a tradition of Critical Education at Maimi, which has in the past included such eminent theorists as Henry Giroux and Peter Mclaren - all of them linking educational theorising with transformative practice in the search for social justice and equity. Dutton's Center for Community Engagement takes students from the University and inserts them into the social fabric of Cincinnati's Over the Rhine (OtR) District - an inner city area originally populated by German immigrants but now home to a diverse cultural mix with a high proportion of African American residents. The area is continually facing increasing pressure from city politicians, business and the development community for redevelopment (read "gentrification"), much like the Valencia Gardens projects in San Francisco and identical to the processes of ethnic cleansing in cities throughout the capitalist world. In the process of their resistance to these pressures, the OtR community has, for several years been involved in extensive community organisation and the establishment of the Drop-Inn Centre - a haven for distressed, homeless, unemployed and harassed residents. The Centre for Community Engagement takes the role of a support organisation for the commuunity and involves students from a wide range of disciplines - Architecture, Social Science, Education etc.
This content item includes a number of downloadable PDFs in both theory and practice. On the practice side, student partiucipants in The Centre for Community Engagement are expected to keep a reflective record of their experiences and learnings. As you will see from their comments, the experience of working in Over the Rhine invariably takes students out of their cultural, economic and social comforrt zones and immerses them in the real life day to day struggles of the poor, the unemployed and the oppressed. Students report remarkable and moving personal learnings and transformations, many stating that the programme has completely changed their perspective and professional dirtections.
On the theory side, Dutton regularly posts analyses that demystify the processes of both corporate and civic deceptions and neo-liberal models of community organisation. As an analyst of urban process and cultural resistance, Dutton stands alongside such notables as David Harvey, Manuel Castells and Mike Davis. As a critical education theorist (in Architecture) he is without peer. The PDFs in this item will be regularly augmented and updated.
To download a historical background to the OtR programme - Colony Over the Rhine - click here .
To download an introduction to the OtR programme, together with OTR Student Experiences 06 - Community Praxis OtR - click here
To download student reflections on their OtR work - OTR Student Experiences 07 - click here
To download a critical analysis of community Organising models - The Futures of Community Organising - click here