The author has served on the north Portland Healthy Eating Active Living Coalition since 2008. HEAL is a community-based health promotion program whose goal is to reduce and prevent childhood obesity in a predominantly Hispanic community. The author's role on the coalition is to conduct evaluation research and assist the coalition in identifying and addressing assets and barriers in the physical and social environment of this community so that children and their families have improved access to healthy food and recreation. Coalition work provides important opportunities for anthropologists to engage in community projects, and can help academic anthropologists develop collaborative research opportunities. Anthropologists can bring assets to such coalitions, including participatory research skills and familiarity with mediation. The time commitment and pace of community work can pose challenges for anthropologists who balance coalition work with other applied projects and academic positions. The methodology and focus of community-based work can also provide challenges for anthropologists, especially in publishing the findings and outcomes of their work. Finally, the participation of anthropologists on coalitions could be enhanced by additional graduate and postgraduate training in evaluation research, grant writing, and fiscal management.
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