Civic Participation in Orosi, Costa Rica: An Action Research Project
Kaiser, Carla Therese
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In 2002, the town of Orosi in Cartago, Costa Rica, was struck with a devastating landslide resulting in seven deaths and widespread chaos. Since that August, several workshops and meetings were offered to better prepare the citizens of Orosi for such disasters. Very few people attended the workshops. Community leaders did not understand why so many chose not to participate in the process of disaster prevention and recuperation. In 2003, this study was undertaken to explore community dynamics and the reasons behind the lack of participation. Three months of field investigation evolved under the method of Participatory Action Research. Through observation, interviews, focus groups, and a survey, residents of Orosi responded and participated. The importance of youth involvement in the community emerged repeatedly, turning the project towards collaborative empowerment and the formation of a youth organization. This paper explores the ways that ethnographic research can be used to catalyze participation in and organization of community betterment initiatives.