SPOH Named a Top-Ten Finalist for 2022 Bellwether Awards

From SMCC’s Media Release:
South Mountain Community College has been selected as a top-ten finalist in two of the three available categories for a prestigious Bellwether Award ­– one in the Instructional Programs and Services category ­and one in the Planning, Governance and Finance category – and the college will now have a chance to compete for the top prize at the Community College Futures Assembly in January, 2022.

Only 10 submissions from community colleges across the country are selected to compete in each of the three categories, for a total of 30 nationwide submissions. These highly-competitive annual awards highlight cutting-edge, trendsetting programs that can be replicated at other community colleges.

In the Instructional Programs and Services Category, SMCC’s submission was “The South Phoenix Oral History Project: Using Oral History to Empower Students and Community.”

The South Phoenix Oral History Project began in 2017 as a simple inquiry by students at South Mountain Community College, who were interested in exploring the rich, cultural history of the South Phoenix area. To their dismay, they discovered that much of the documented history excluded their own neighborhoods, which were predominately the homes of African American, Asian American, and Mexican American Phoenicians. Initially they proposed a class oral history project to gain greater understanding of the history of the area, and determine the significance of SMCC and its impact in the region. Joined by SMCC faculty and staff, this project evolved into the South Phoenix Oral History Project (SPOH): a student-founded and led initiative to capture and preserve the history of South Phoenix.

The SPOH has already implemented a number of unique experiences, including:

  • In 2018, the website http://www.southphoenixoralhistory.com was launched
  • In the fall of 2020, a historic walking tour of SMCC was created
  • in January of 2021, in celebration of the college’s 40th anniversary, SPOH created a full-length documentary.
  • This fall, the SPOH has releases an area-wide digital survey designed to gauge resident’s perceptions and understandings of just what the “boundaries” are of the South Phoenix area.
  • Following on the successes and growing momentum of the effort, in the Fall of 2022 the first academic peer-reviewed journal article about South Phoenix will be published.

This incredibly collaborative effort between students, faculty and staff at SMCC has already collected a massive physical and digital collection of recorded history, with nearly 250 hours of recorded interviews of more than 100 residents having taken place, and more scheduled all the time.

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