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Same old, same old? Try this:
Written by Margo Ashmore, Editor and Publisher
Posted  11/24/2010
One of our fellow info and opinion purveyors said he heard it called a chicken wing and watermelon show. I can’t vouch for that, as the late lunch I walked away with was a ham and cheese sandwich in a hard plastic to-go box. Dignitaries were ushered into a separate room for their lunch. I know what he meant, though, and eagerly await evidence that would lead me to disagree.

The topic: The North Minneapolis Community Violence Report and the violence prevention rally

around it at Shiloh Temple Oct. 30. The discussion was a bit more informative and up to date than the report itself, basically an academic literature search; a good one. Some audience questions posed through cards were summarized and answered in bulk before time ran out.

The balance of the questions have been posted on line with the report, at www.northpointhealth.org. According to Stella Whitney West, Chief Executive Officer of NorthPoint Health & Wellness, the force behind the Project Redemption Coalition getting together, the convenors will be answering the questions and posting those answers on line, and after that, deciding on next steps.

As the questions indicate, even the organizers must know there are many agencies and organizations doing some part of the various violence prevention strategies and models noted in the report. It would be nice to have more cross-awareness and referrals as appropriate.

What I hope is part of the strategy is a block-by-block, careful inventorying of where the reasonably intact families are, and where there are people whose children can use some additional adult role models, and where adults need help. And get them the help they need, where they are.

(The report notes that the seeds of violence take hold in the youth; that as most people age, and if they can have a relationship and a family, they start to be less violent and more responsible.)

I submit that at the root of many problems in most North Minneapolis communities may be a self-imposed feeling of isolation. A desire to have community, but not necessarily with every person next door or down the street. I think it partially explains why too many families sent their kids to anywhere but North Minneapolis public schools.

On the part of the troubled, there’s a mistrust based in history, an assumption that everyone is out to do them harm. It manifests in that low flash point thing.

On the part of those who have it better

together, there’s an assumption that if they have any contact with the troubled, they will get sucked in, caught in the crossfire, or whatever.

I assert that help, professional or otherwise, needs to be place-based. It does little good to have half a dozen case workers fretting at different times over an individual who has to see each one in their office. Being poor is a full time job, and being poor is a ticket to a violent life, says the North Minneapolis Community Violence Report.

That troubled individual returns home, shunned by some and preyed upon by others.

Couldn’t there be professional help shoring up the people to help neighbors help neighbors?

Friends who’ve lived in North Minneapolis most of their lives often cluck that if the money that’s gone to fund social service agency salaries could have gone directly to the people, poverty would have been solved by now.

A friend from a different school district, but who works with people in poverty, said when she introduces her program to the people she would serve, they say "that sounds great, how can I help?" People of limited means are often the most willing to give of themselves and give proportionately more.

I posed my proposal in a question that has been posted. I’m sure there are bureaucratic drawbacks to something so simple. But I will look forward to the response.

NorthNews Opinion