Artists, community activists and residents gathered today in Rogers Park, on Chicago’s far North side, searching for concrete tools to stop youth and gang violence, and begin the work of restoring neighborhoods and hope. 900poundgorilla sat down with organizers and activists ahead of a workshop that identified root causes of violence and put workable solutions to paper.
Among the 30 or so in attendance were artists and actors from the Stone Soup Theater Project. Their current play, titled “Tamer of Horses,” deals with youth and gang violence. The play runs from April 5th-May 4th at the Senn High school theater, 5900 N. Glenwood in Chiacgo.
opening the workshop was Michaela Mills, with the Violence Prevention Coalition, which was begun in 2012. VPC partnered with Cease Fire, an effort by former gang members to intervene and de-escalate in violence. VCP and Cease Fire spearheaded the “Bring on the Lights” effort at several north side parks to deter crime and violence.
“We want lights, because we want a safe environment,” Mills told the audience.
There was an undeniable determination represented in this gathering. Many forwarded the sentiments of neighbors and friends who shared that determination. Though many of the same issues like jobs, abandoned buildings, and after school initiatives were a recurring theme, there was one issue that shadowed the conversations.
900poundgorilla spent time in Bosnia during the bloody civil war there, and is regularly working in some of the worst violence scarred neighborhoods on Chicago’s south side. the issue of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder may be at the heart of much of the ongoing violence in the city. My first novel “Broken, One soldier’s unexpected journey home,” dealth with PTSD, and was recommended by by the National Association of Mental health Institutes(NAMI).
I sat down Chris Patterson, organizer of the Rogers Park Violence Coalition. His compelling and dramatic story will be featured soon here and on the radio show. Stay tuned…
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