Thursday, June 11, 2009

Healing Community Problems

I was listening to a radio program a few weeks ago (At Issue on WBBM, no link). The folks being interviewed represented a few anti-violence programs in Chicago and had several interesting points. One of the things someone brought up was a list of 3 things that interfere with finding and applying solutions to problems, community problems in particular. I think the list is applicable to a number of problems, not just violence, so I thought I’d put them in here:

First, people won’t work to solve a problem that they don’t think affects them, that they don’t think is theirs. If you see a problem as someone else’s or can convince yourself that it is the other guy’s problem, you think they should work on the solution. I don’t have to; it is your problem you fix it.

Second, people don’t care about the problem. Granted a number of folks just don’t care about much of anything, but his doesn’t mean they are all uncaring people. Many have enough other problems that they don’t have room on their plate for something else to “care about”. When you are scrambling to get food on the table and a roof over your head, you may not “care” about violence outside your house.

Third, if people do not know what works they get overwhelmed thinking of or trying a solution and may quit. We need to put proof that there are solutions that work in the hands of the folks who can and will work toward a solution. The proof must be real and fact-based, not anecdotal. In the case of community violence, there is very good evidence that CeaseFire and it violence interrupters and other interventions work and should be in widespread usage.

To get the community together on working to address/solve community problems we must show them that it affects them, tell them why they should care, and show them what works for a solution. We can work together for community solutions and community healing of a wide range of problems. Community problems can only be solved on a community basis.

Not that it has a much to do with the forgoing, but I have been wanting to share a quote I caught from Bill Murray on TV a while back:

It is not about doing the right thing; it is about doing the next thing right.


Boogie said...

I see that you mention Cease Fire. What do you think of some of the articles in the news lately about members of Cease Fire actually still being involved in the gangs? I read 2 articles, if I find the links I will forward, one article was from the Milwaukee area and the other from the Chicagoland area. In the articles they state that they embezzled money from the government for the programs and also set up rival gang members.

Dr. Richard Keller said...

My experiences with CeaseFire have been positive. I find the folks that do the work are dedicated to reducing violence and healing the community. I have seen positive outcomes and seen the studies that demonstrate positive results.

I prefer to look at it from that perspective and feel that the cases you point out are the exception.