If you are a local resident concerned about homelessness in Haliburton County, a business owner wondering how improving transportation options could support the area’s declining workforce, or a landlord riparian concerned about the long-term health of your lake, U-Links Center for Community-Based Research wants to hear from you.
Since its launch in 1999, the organization has facilitated hundreds of research projects in the Highlands between area residents, organizations and research students from Trent University and Fleming College. This is to help provide insight and information on various social, cultural, environmental and economic issues facing the community.
Earlier this month, U-Links launched a call for the community to seek ideas for future projects.
“We’ll do it once a year, usually, connecting with our community to try to find out what they want to know. If the community says ‘I want answers to A, B and C’, we’ll do our best. to get there and get there,” said Daniela Pagliaro, logistics coordinator at U-Links.
Once a project has been formulated, U-Links staff post the details on their website and reach out to Trent and Fleming’s contacts to see if there are any students interested in taking them on.
It’s not as simple as finding someone, however. There is a thorough application process, Pagliaro said, which is designed to find “a perfect match” between student and project.
“Because these projects are so important to us, we want to make sure that the student we trust is engaged and understands exactly what is expected of them,” Pagliaro said. “We want the projects to be good so that they benefit our community.”
At the end of each academic year, U-Links hosts a Research Celebration, where students have the opportunity to showcase their work to the community. At the most recent event, held virtually in March, U-Links showcased 18 completed projects.
Among them, a report on food waste reduction strategies for Dysart et al, benthic assessments of more than a dozen lakes in the region, and a study of existing supports for people with eating disorders in the rural communities.
Pagliaro noted that about 80% of U-Links’ projects in his books are environmentally focused, but that’s not by design.
“We would love to see more socio-cultural projects coming our way… We would absolutely love a project, for example, that deals with housing and homelessness in Haliburton County. It would be a perfect fit for the issues we are currently facing and the relationships we have,” Pagliaro said.
Other non-environmental projects U-Links is looking to move forward include exploring the history of the former Mountain Street Red Cross outpost (now the CanoeFM building), sustainability a virtual adaptation of the Sprouts to Snacks program on site at Abbey Gardens. , and an evaluation of programming for the Abbey Retreat Centre.
The organization is asking people to come up with project ideas by mid-August, to give staff enough time to finalize things and get in touch with schools. For more information, contact Sadie Fischer at [email protected], or call the office at 705-286-2411.