Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Listening to Youth at "Power Filled Me"

At Union United Methodist Church on this past Wednesday, October 23rd, over 50 community members gathered to listen to a panel of young people discuss their lives.

The audience consisted mainly of adults. The primary rule of the evening, enforced by Reverend Kevin Jones, Clergy Liaison of the S.O.S. Clergy Action Network, was that the adults couldn't speak during the event. The night was specifically about listening in order to learn from the young people on the panel.

Panelists respond to questions
The panel consisted of about 15 young men in their teens and early twenties. While the audience listened, some taking notes, the young men answered questions asked by the youth facilitators. The questions were divided into three sections: the first focused on the general experience of being a teenager today, the second on the young people's priorities, and the third on ways that adults can act as allies to help young people succeed.

 The young people spoke honestly about their experiences of growing up, and what they feel they need from the adults around them. They all had unique experiences, successes, and challenges to share. Some were attending high school and others were not. Others had experienced the arrest of themselves or friends, or parents' divorce. Some strategies that the young men used to stay positive were rapping, playing ball, and hanging out with friends.

Some panelists said that they enjoyed going to school, while others felt stressed out by it. One young man, who had graduated, expressed that felt he was "doing everything by myself. No one taught me what to do after high school. I don't know what I'm doing." Another offered his desire to see "adults... actually work with you - instead of telling you what you're supposed to do, actually walk through it with you." Some ways that panelists felt that adults could help them reach their goals included creating more community spaces, sharing their own mistakes from their youth, and asking their children questions.

Throughout the night, S.O.S. staff and audience members posted quotes and responses from the panel on Twitter. Some of them are below:

The night ended with Reverend Jones thanking the panel for speaking for almost two hours. He encouraged the adults in the room to attend a follow-up session the next Wednesday, where they would be able to discuss, but not judge, what they had heard over the course of the evening. The follow-up session will occur tonight, 6 pm, at the Union United Methodist Church on 121 New York Avenue.

Audience members at Power Filled Me

Monday, October 28, 2013

S.O.S. C.A.N. Faith Walk 2013

On October 27th, The S.O.S. Clergy Action Network led its annual march to advocate for peace. Over 200 faith leaders and residents showed up to walk on St. Johns Avenue from Nostrand Avenue to Troy Avenue. The walk ended at Beulah Church of the Nazarene, where a reception was held. The event was energetic and brought in people from all over the community to raise their voices and walk for nonviolence.

Community Thoughts on Violence

On October 17th, a group of concerned community members met at Launch Charter School for the first in a series of conversations on neighborhood violence. 

In this first session we unpacked some of our experiences and feelings about violence. We moved on to explore some of the causes of violence and some of the effects it has on individuals and the neighborhood. 

Below are some things our neighbors had to say about neighborhood violence. We've included a few additional thoughts of our own (in green) that didn't emerge in the conversation.

Please join us on November 21st, when we reconvene for session two of Community Conversations to continue the discussion and consider some of the ways that we can act to reduce the violence in Crown Heights. The dialogue will take place at 6:30 pm at Launch Charter School, on 1580 Dean Street.  

Friday, October 18, 2013

Community Conversation Brings Together Neighbors to Discuss Violence

Last night at the Launch Charter School at P.S. 243, S.O.S. held the first in a series of dialogues about neighborhood violence. Over 20 community members of all ages gathered to discuss the issues. The evening began with introductions, each person sharing their reasons for joining the conversation. Some people wanted to learn more about the issue, while others, having lived in the community for many years, wanted to discuss their experience with the rest of the group.

The conversation moved on to how violence affects our community. In addition to the direct effects of violence, we also discussed what the more indirect consequences of are. Some that came up were feelings of fear and a lack of safety, as well as barriers to businesses and jobs moving to the community.  In addition to gun violence, other types of violence such as domestic violence, verbal abuse, and systemic violence were surfaced.

The discussion then turned to causes and origins of violence. Many ideas came up amongst the group as to ways that the cycle of violence can be perpetuated. Everybody brought different ideas to the circle, all of which were recorded by staff.

Staff closed the evening by asking the attendees to first write down what they would like to see at future conversations, and then to share one word about how they were feeling. Words that came up included "inspired," "surprised," "angry," and "hopeful." Many people expressed anticipation for future conversations.

The next Community Conversation will be on November 21st, where we will begin to discuss strategies to combat violence as a community. All are welcome to attend, including those who weren't in attendance at the first Conversation.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Community Rally in Response to Neighborhood Shooting

Last night, October 16th, S.O.S. held a community rally on the corner of St Johns Ave and Utica Ave in response to a shooting that occurred there on Friday night, leaving a young man seriously wounded. Members of the S.O.S. Clergy Action Network addressed the community, urging those listening to pass on the message: "put the guns down."

Approximately 15 community members attended, joining SOS staff in chanting "Enough is enough!" Many passersby stopped and engaged in discussions about the desire to create a safer neighborhood. Thank you to all who joined us.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

October SOS CAN Events

Please join us for the upcoming S.O.S. Clergy Action Network events this month:

October 19 & 20, October 26 & 27: Nonviolence Weekends
October 23: Power Filled Me: An Opportunity to Listen to Our Youth, 6-9 pm
October 27: Faith Walk with Prayers - meeting at Nostrand Avenue and St. Johns and walking to Troy Avenue, with a reception to follow.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Community Comes Together in Response to Fatal Shooting

On Thursday, October 10th, S.O.S. held a rally on the corner of St. Marks Avenue  and Schnectady Avenue to mark the fatal shooting that occurred in this area on the night of Sunday, October 6th. Prior to Sunday's shooting, there had been 30 days without a shooting in our cathchment area.

About 25 residents and supporters came to the event, including Youth Organizers from Youth Organizing to Save Our Streets. Neighbors at the rally came together to make their message heard to the community: "Stop Shooting, Start Living."


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

This Thursday: Community Rally in Response to Fatal Shooting

Power Filled Me: A Youth Symposium

Please join us for a unique SOS CAN event aimed at giving young people in our community a chance to be heard. Power-Filled Me will take place on Wednesday, October 23rd, at the Union United Methodist Church, from 6 pm to 9 pm. The goal of the symposium is to give adults- parents, teachers, and clergy - an opportunity to learn more about what young people have to offer, what motivates them, and what they need.