The Community-based Research Laboratory (CBRL) was set up in 2005, with funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and the British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF). Many different research projects have already been carried out under the leadership of Dr. Gutberlet and with the engagement of a large number of CBRL members, initially focusing on ‘Participatory rapid appraisal of the fishing communities in Arraial do Cabo’, on urban agriculture, with the study ‘From Conucos to current-day urban agriculture: Cuba’s communal answer to food and health’ to sustainability issues with ‘Participatory sustainable waste management in the metropolitan region of São Paulo, Brazil’.
Significant work followed these initial research initiatives, mostly focused on waste and livelihoods related questions. Some of that work happens in our own local community and involves, for example, the Binners, 'Valoristes', and homeless population in Victoria, Vancouver and Montreal. Other research on the geographies of waste currently in progress encompasses international perspectives and engages different scholars, from various universities and grassroots as well as social movements and community groups in different places in Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Kenya, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Tanzania, and Sweden. Lessons learned early on from the community-led research the CBRL has conducted in Brazil is now informing the research, concerning many communities in these other places. The network of actors involved in these research projects are constantly expanding and diversifying.
CBRL is networking widely and is also supporting many other likeminded initiatives, with which sometimes strong relations get established. Until now, many students and volunteers were trained in the Lab, some of which have become trainers themselves, building the capacity of other Lab members and beyond. The CBRL has enabled and invigorated learning and skill buildings, which has ultimately contributed to the research outcomes and to the capacity building of its members and participants.