I was very calm and happy yesterday during our meeting, “Introducing Ourselves: Being at Peace in the Community.” Only a couple poems per se were read—the rest of the time we were wrapped up in intense, interesting discussion. I followed the discussion where it led, not wishing to impose too much of the initial kernel of the idea (meeting with police to stop violence) on the group but rather seeing where the community need is greatest. It seems that people are most concerned about children and community issues with children. At first we talked about the need to help stop bullies—we theorized that bullies are bullies because they have been bullied at home. So we discussed the need to create safe, kind role models who kids can emulate if they do not have that experience to draw from at home.
And we became very concerned about the perception of kids—like, for instance, if we were to just perform at a school one time and then move on to the next event somewhere else, what kind of expectations have we set up for the kids? Have we really helped things or have we just done something for the name of the project rather than the project’s mission?
So there was this sense of wanting to hunker down and really understand how to set the pathways to change even after we’ve gone to the next location (if that’s what we’ll do). And definitely the thought of following up and also preparing people – like meeting a week before hand and just kind of chilling with and meeting the community, then the next week doing the actual creative event, and then the following week (as an example of a time scale) doing some kind of follow-up action.
Then we really started learning more about the scale of issues in some parts of the community. I’ve not lived in a particular neighborhood where I’ve had to worry about being shot much. Some have. One person came in to the meeting and discussed the project with which he’s involved, the Community Greenhouse Project. This project is setting up in a neighborhood where there were multiple killings. I like the idea of the garden as a healing and integrative experience and hope that the project succeeds and helps people in the neighborhood.
We also talked about the need for people who have good heart to learn more rather than impose a mission ignorantly. So it was posited that some initial events could involve a kind of “we’re here, listening; please inform us and help us understand” message. Rather than broadcasting something “from above” it would be a mission of extended community building that is respectful.
Some talked about the existence of gangs—something that I hadn’t even considered, hadn’t even hit my radar of consciousness. I mean, I’ve read about gangs a small bit but didn’t really know that there were gangs in Cleveland. I really think that even if someone identifies as belonging to a gang that doesn’t necessarily mean that the person is bad. (My inside belief: no one is actually bad—it’s only the circumstances and the actions that might be bad.) So it is important to me to think about people in terms of them being people with families even if gang members, but to not ignore the reality of the issues involved with gangs.
There was the discussion of the need to explicitly identify core principles as a group and as perhaps individuals acting on our own or with other projects, and how this can focus collective vision.
We talked a little bit about how to get kids and parents more interested and perhaps slam poetry might be a means of doing this, as it is fashionable and involves diverse participants of various backgrounds.
So, lots of interesting talk, and I was calm (I’m an introvert), and I think that it might be a slower process than I thought but that’s OK. I mean, it could be a kind of organic, long term activity. I don’t want to overcommit anyone, though! There was also the thought that we need to keep the involvement fun and lighthearted to an extent so that we don’t get burned out. I really enjoy intense activity but also I don’t want to be tired all the time, so I am hoping to help keep it fun and productive and that it actually helps things.
I’ve attached some photos I took of my kind of unconventional notes jotting down of some of the ideas bounced around in the group.
PUSH KINDNESS, GENTLENESS & OPTIMISM
SMOKED SALT, SMOKED PAPRIKA & SHREDDED BEETS, HIJIKI WITH AVACADOS AND TOASTED SESAME OIL
REGAIN SOCIAL SKILLS
CLEVELAND, A GOOD COMMUNITY
LEARN & LISTEN
WHAT’S GOING ON?
STOPPING BULLYING; STOPPING THE BULLYING OF KIDS WHO ARE BULLIES
THINK ABOUT THE PPL, PARTICULARLY KIDS AND WHAT THEY ARE THINKING AFTER THE EVENT
BE ABOUT THE PEOPLE, NOT THE “PROGRAM”
ASK PPL IN AREA ~ REC CENTERS ~ HOUGH
WRITE A PAGE & LET THAT PAGE COME OUT OF U
BUILD A MODEL ON CERTAIN PRINCIPLES ~ WHAT WOULD BE OUR CONNECTION TO THE COMMUNITY?
“THE LONGER WE TELL THE TRUTH THE MORE IT WILL BE THE TRUTH”
CREATIVITY & COMMUNITY
“WE WANT TO TAKE THIS TO YOUR AREA ~ TODAY WE’RE AT THIS PLACE IN CONJUNCTION WITH ____”
COMMUNITY CAN BE LIKE A GARDEN
COHESIVE GROUP OF PEOPLE ~ POETRY COUNCIL
AFFECT INDIVIDUALS: GO DO THE POETRY, GO OUT THERE AND SPIT SOMEWHERE
REVEREND BILLY, PERFORMANCE ARTIST
U.S. SOCIAL FORUM IN DETROIT, WORLD SOCIAL FORUM
DETROIT URBAN GARDEN COMMUNITY
RON SCOTT, BOGG CENTER
COMMUNITY RELATIONS BOARD OF CLEVELAND
ALLIED MEDIA CONFERENCE DETROIT
“TRANSFORMATIVE SOCIAL CHANGE DISCUSSION”
SCATTEREDNESS, BUT HAPPY, OPTIMISTIC, CHILDREN BIGGEST CONCERN
HOW DO WE GET PPL ENGAGED B4 PROBLEMS HAPPEN, 2 STOP PROBLEMS?
“ME & YOU”
PRINCIPLES, PEOPLE WITH PRINCIPLES OF ENGAGEMENT
LEARNING ABOUT PEOPLE
THE VALUE OF TEACHING & ARTICULATING
BEING MORE CIVIL
REMEMBERING OLD VALUES AND REAPPLYING TO NEW CONTEXTS