I’m not a advocate of the prison system at all. I know there are many men, women, and children locked away in prisons, who have not been giving fare trails and people convicted for crimes that they didn’t commit. The prison system needs to be reformed and the justice system needs to be reformed as a whole, security sector reform is needed. And better relationships between the system and the people is needed as well.
There where plans to build a new youth detention center in phila, which is already built and has people upset and protesting it. Which they have every right to do. I’m not against protesting/rallying at all. The activist involved with the protesting and petitioning against the opening of this new youth detention center are doing some good work. But they are missing a key focus area. And that’s the building with the youth and their families that are in that neighborhood. Building beyond the weekend protest, handing out flyers with info, petitioning.
It’s one thing to go out and protest against something that’s wrong every weekend. And it’s another to go out and build, talk, concertante with the people. I think if they went out and spent time in that community/neighborhood with out saying anything about protesting and just going to be servants of the youth since the center is for youth. Doing a after school program or a weekend program of some sort. Basketball, music anything to engage the youth in that neighborhood the community would respond better to their efforts and goals. Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, grands ect would want to know what the kids where up to and that would be a way to pull adults in on what they are doing.
The work is good that they are doing but they haven’t maximized their potential and tapped into the resources of that community fully yet.
The formula is simple for any org or person doing community based work. When going into a neighborhood/community especially when your not from there you have to engage the people in the area in some type of way. There are many ways you can do this, but to just come into a community without it. Most time it and get that neighborhoods attention would call for a event, circumstance, situation that made them gravitate to you. Other wise you might just look like a crazy out sider.
This formula has been proven to work. With the work of the HHPP and its partner orgs Phila Coalition of the Heart, Philly Stand Up and others.
EX: PCOH found a lot filled with years of trash. Organized with parents and their children a clean up. And turned the lot that was a land fill for years into a garden with free organic vegetables for any one to take as they like. Now that north Philly neighborhood knows the members of PCOH. PCOH can go into that neighborhood if there help for a issue was ever needed and get the support of the children and adults.