National PLACE Collaboratory

The PLACE Collaboratory is a group of faculty, staff, students, and community partners organized by Bringing Theory to Practice that represents the eight PLACE project sites across the United States. This network-wide community of practice has gathered at in-person and virtual convenings to learn from members’ local initiatives and to distill and disseminate models of authentic partnership, engaged learning, and public humanities work.

PLACE Collaboratory Convening in Greensboro, NC

Briscoe Turner speaks in student fishbowl; far left: Kendra Summers
Briscoe Turner speaks in student fishbowl; far left: Kendra Summers

UMBC team members have been active participants in PLACE Collaboratory gatherings and workshops. Dr. Felipe Filomeno (PLACE co-principal investigator) and Dr. Romy Hübler (PLACE co-principal investigator) helped plan the PLACE Collaboratory launch convening in Greensboro, NC, which took place from October 1 – 4, 2019. Felipe, Romy, Kendra Summers (Brooklyn community fellow), and Briscoe Turner ‘21 (UMBC community fellow) represented UMBC at the convening. Romy and Felipe provided an overview of the PLACE project at UMBC and Briscoe led a conversation in a session focused on undergraduate students as co-creators and civic agents.


PLACE Collaboratory Convening in Baltimore, MD

The UMBC PLACE project was distinctive among the projects linked through the PLACE Collaboratory in that its objective was to initiate community organizing and planning in a community experiencing rapid turnover, demographic shifts, and significant social challenges. The initial work of the project involved building relationships with community residents and leaders to enable a process of coalescence: bringing people together around plans they would develop and implement. Bringing Theory to Practice leaders Dr. David Scobey and Dr. Kate Griffin identified UMBC and Baltimore as a site for the second national PLACE Collaboratory convening, tentatively set for June 2020.

Prof. Steve Bradley talks about community art work
Prof. Steve Bradley talks to Nic Nemec, Shannon Cheek, Kate Griffin, David Scobey and Romy Hübler about community art work.

While the COVID-19 pandemic ultimately derailed the convening, the planning process was generative. As a part of that process, David and Kate visited Baltimore in November 2019, and met with many of the project’s stakeholders, including the co-principal investigators,  UMBC undergraduate community fellows (Alexis Stone, Briscoe Turner, Emily Paul, Nic Nemec, Shannon Cheek, Sydney Fryer and Tony Cano); UMBC faculty members Dr. John Schumacher (Associate Professor, Sociology, Anthropology, and Public Health), Dr. Marina Adler (Professor, Sociology, Anthropology, and Public Health, UMBC), Dr. Nicole King (Associate Professor and Chair, American Studies, UMBC), and Steve Bradley (Associate Professor, Visual Arts), all of whom were conducting community research projects in Brooklyn; and Dr. David Hoffman, Director of UMBC’s Center for Democracy and Civic Life, who worked closely with the PLACE Project. David Scobey, Kate, and members of the UMBC group visited sites important to Brooklyn residents including Maree G. Farring Elementary and Middle School, where school social worker Moshe Berry provided context and data about the neighborhood and issues affecting residents, as well as the Brooklyn Enoch Pratt Free Library and Garrett Park.

The visit concluded with a strategy session for the PLACE Project in Baltimore and the planned (but never realized) June 2020 PLACE Collaboratory convening.

Virtual PLACE Collaboratory Convenings

The UMBC PLACE Project team participated in all 20 virtual convenings Bringing Theory to Practice hosted for members of the PLACE Collaboratory as well as periodic planning meetings. Members of the team shared updates, talked about challenges, provided support, and built community with other participants and the Bringing Theory to Practice team.

For the March 17, 2021 Collaboratory convening, David Hoffman, Felipe, and Romy worked with Kate to prepare nearly a dozen undergraduate students from several PLACE Collaboratory sites to share the stories of their participation in local PLACE projects. The students reflected on all they had learned and shared insights about how undergraduate education could change to better meet the needs of students and communities. At the April 14, 2021 Collaboratory convening, Ethan Gonzáles, a PLACE community fellow and teacher at Ben Franklin High School, shared his perspective and experiences as a community partner. At the November 4, 2021 Collaboratory convening, members of the UMBC team led a two-hour presentation and conversation about the Baltimore PLACE Project, distilling lessons from two years of planning, teaching, and organizing.

David Hoffman, Emily Paul, Felipe Filomeno, Romy Hübler, and Shannon Cheek participate in a PLACE Collaboratory workshop on oral history.
David Hoffman, Emily Paul, Felipe Filomeno, Romy Hübler, and Shannon Cheek participate in a PLACE Collaboratory workshop on oral history.