About Us

Carla Norwood and Gabriel Cumming

Carla Norwood and Gabriel Cumming in front of a building they are renovating in Warrenton, NC

Gabriel Cumming, PhD
Gabriel co-developed the Community Voice Method (CVM) with Carla Norwood. Gabriel first began experimenting with using documentary media for public engagement in 2001, when he was working as Community Outreach/Program Assistant at Catawba Lands Conservancy in Charlotte, NC. There he launched Perspectives on Land, a project that used interviewing and documentary film to engage rural residents in conversations about land use, conservation, and community. He continued Perspectives on Land at UNC-Chapel Hill, where he completed a doctorate in Ecology (2002-2007). While at UNC, he and Norwood launched Little Tennessee Perspectives curso big data, the first fully-realized CVM project (2004-05). All told, Gabriel has designed or co-designed public engagement projects that have directly involved more than 1000 rural North Carolinians since 2001. From 2008-11, he was a Postdoctoral Associate in the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University. While at Duke, he has helped introduce CVM to the Turks and Caicos Islands in conjunction with the TCI Turtle Project (2010). Gabriel is now Principal at Community Voice Consulting, where he works with clients domestically and internationally to conduct CVM projects.

Carla Norwood, PhD
While serving as Executive Director of the Little Tennessee Watershed Association in Macon County, NC (2002-03), Carla identified a pressing need for more effective public engagement around land use and planning issues in the face of rapid, amenity-driven development. She entered the PhD program in Ecology at UNC-Chapel Hill (2003-09) with the goal of developing better engagement methods. She and Gabriel Cumming teamed up to design the first CVM project, Little Tennessee Perspectives, which took place in Macon County in 2004-05. In addition to joining Gabriel in conducting interviews and producing documentary films, she developed CVM’s participatory approach to the analysis and presentation of geospatial and other quantitative data. She has since worked on CVM projects across North Carolina—most recently in her home community of Warren County (2010-11). From 2009-11, Carla was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. She is the founding board chair of Working Landscapes, a Warren-based non-profit organization dedicated to rural development, sustainable resource management, and civic capacity-building.

Lisa Campbell and Amdeep Sanghera interview Bruce Jennings in South Caicos

Lisa Campbell, PhD
Lisa is Rachel Carson Associate Professor of Marine Affairs and Policy at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment; both Gabriel Cumming and Carla Norwood have held postdoctoral appointments in her lab. She has served as principal investigator on two CVM projects: Change in Coastal Communities: Perspectives from Down East (2008-09) and Turtles in South Caicos: talking about management (2010). She is faculty advisor to the Growing Local/Buying Local project.

Starting in 2011, CVM is being used to help launch the UNC SPARC (Sustained Participatory Action Research Collaboration) Program, which is led by Dorothy Holland, Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor of Anthropology. SPARCs will match community goals and needs with the interests of UNC faculty and students, thus creating new opportunities for community-based research and co-teaching. The first SPARC has been established in Warren County, NC, through Working Landscapes, a Warrenton-based non-profit organization. The initial research/action agenda for the Warren County SPARC was developed through Growing Local/Buying Local, a CVM project conducted in the county during 2010-11.

These are by no means the only contributors to the development of CVM: in designing and implementing each CVM project, we have worked closely with collaborators, including community partners and co-investigators. These collaborators are acknowledged on the pages associated with each project.