October has been a busy month for the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center! We completed our rennovations and are preparing to open our doors to clients again this coming Monday, October 29th. This past weekend we had two events to help organize and beautify our neighborhood– read more about it in our reports below.

S.O.S. C.A.N. “Clergy Breakfast”

The Clergy Action Network is back in action!

Last Saturday, October 20th, 30 members of the Save Our Streets Clergy Action Network (S.O.S. C.A.N.) met at the Bethany United Methodist church over a continental breakfast and an agenda that included sections on “connecting,” “learning,” and “doing.” S.O.S. clergy liaison Reverend Kevin Jones (pictured below) thanked the attendees for their work thus far, and then called for further action.

“Pastors, our neighborhood youth need us!” he said. “There is a tremendous need for faith-based leaders to join forces to Save Our Streets. You’ve shown your good faith by showing up at this breakfast, now come stand beside us on our clergy walks, pray with us at our shooting responses, speak to your young people about peaceful living, sit with us and think of ways that you and your congregation can help prevent gun violence.”
Rev. Jones reported on last week’s clergy rally at a neighborhood corner plagued by a spike in gun violence. He also spoke about clergy participation in a recent F.A.I.T.H. (Fathers Alive In The Hood) organized march of black men standing together as community role models. These efforts are an important way to show the community that the clergy do not just “preach to four walls,” he said, but rather that they, and God, care about the realities of the streets.
The C.A.N. members then heard from other powerful community organizers; Pastor Matthew Godwin spoke of his experiences in the biweekly clergy walks, and two young men appealed to the clergy to conduct evening programs that would make churches a safe haven for neighborhood youth. Later, Pastor Carolyn Frasier (pictured, left) shared the way God has influenced her to extend her pastoring beyond Sunday worship. Rev. Frasier recently turned that intention into action when Bible Faith hosted a prayer response to stand against the increased gun violence in their area along with 10 other pastors and their congregations. 
More inspiring community organizing experiences were exchanged as Rev. David Brawley spoke of his leadership in East Brooklyn Congregations, which organizes local citizens to hold the government and police accountable to the community. Finally, Dr. Cheryl Anthony led the group in a closing prayer, thanking God for giving us the power to help our community move away from gun violence and toward a better future.
To follow up on their intentions to better the community, several members signed up to be trained in conflict resolution and mediation techniques. Marlon Peterson, the associate director at CHCMC, agreed to lead a workshop at a date and time TBA. Several others signed up to covenant with S.O.S. C.A.N. in prayer and all expressed sincere interest in making a change in our neighborhood. 

“It’s My Park Day” 2012

CHCMC’s new Americorps members, Toluwalashe Davies and Pete Martin report back after spending a Saturday afternoon at Brower Park for this year’s “It’s My Park Day:” 

Brower Park is a true community park, as we found out when we turned out for “It’s My Park Day” this past Saturday, October 20. The event, organized by Friends of Brower Park, brought community members together to clean up the park, plant grass and flowers, and get to know each other. The beautiful weather enabled us to get a lot of raking and planting done, and there was a strong, shared sense of belonging. Everyone was friendly with each other, and there were a lot of positive interactions and teamwork. Since it was our first time at the event we didn’t know what to expect, but we enjoyed ourselves immensely as we got our hands dirty raking leaves, planting daffodils, and learning how to best use a shovel to dig the earth. Nobody had warned us that our muscles would be sore afterwards, but we were happy anyway to have put all our might into our duties for the day!
While there, we met many people who came out to help beautify their park just because they wanted to. We met nine-year-olds who wanted to help plant daffodils, a young girl who likes to sing and loves the earth and its worms, a lawyer who lives near the park and likes to give back to the community, an older lady who thought one of us looked a lot like a cousin of hers, and Phil, who is in charge of Friends of Brower Park. There were about 30 high school students, all helping with the clean-up and the flower planting, and they made the day fun, playing with each other while getting the work done. There were also a lot of adults there, leading by
example, and showing the youth that activism does not end at a certain age. Crown Heights is indeed an amazing community of people who trying to make their neighborhood a better place, one daffodil at a time.