Ideas flow; next comes action
“If the young are not initiated into the village, they will burn it down just to feel its warmth.”
— African Proverb
Drugs. Gangs. Gun violence. It wasn’t hard for community meeting organizers to identify the top concerns shared by West End residents and much of the rest of the city when it comes to crime.
Those three issues ranked high in nearly every section of the city, according to surveys filled out at a July 23 meeting.
Coming up with successful interventions will take more ingenuity, research and resources. Fortunately, residents who spoke up at Monday night’s follow-up meeting had lots of ideas.
Many centered on getting young people involved in productive activities. For example:
• Offer vocational training at the Miller Recreation Center for young people who have dropped out of school.
• Involve more children in the police athletic league and give the program more community support.
• Offer arts and other programs to children who are not athletically gifted.
• Find out what youth care about and get them involved. Ideas some youth have mentioned include neighborhood block parties and a community recording studio for hip-hop and spoken word artists.
• Create safe zones in neighborhoods.
• Designate a graffiti wall.
• Apply for grants to fund more programs for youth.
• Put up barriers to drug traffic; stop suspicious vehicles.
Other ideas focused on working with the adult residents, many of whom are now living in fear:
• Reinvigorate Community Watch programs and have police partner with them to educate people about drugs and their effects.
• Know what you have in your medicine cabinet and keep track of it.
• Give residents easy access to crime statistics for each quadrant of the city.
• Hold meetings of the SNAG group — Salisbury Neighborhood Action Group — out in the neighborhoods instead of at the police station.
• Give residents an list of key contacts in city government and their phone numbers, so they can call when problems arise.
Kudos to organizers for keeping these conversations on a forward-looking path. The West End Community Organization, West End Pride and The Chamber are serious about coming up with an action plan. More ideas were turned in at the end of the meeting. We look forward to seeing this process continue to unfold.