“We Can’t Let Fear Rule Our Lives”

Second Community Conversation Examines Neighborhood Interactions Around Violence

More than 30 Community members came out to participate in a second S.O.S. “Community Conversation” on Wednesday, May 8th at Bethany Methodist Church. The event was second of three gatherings to discuss causes, effects and antidotes to urban violence. Wednesday night’s conversation focused on analyzing common reactions to instances of high-level and low-level violence.
To examine these reactions, participants engaged in a role plays portraying two scenarios. The first was set in a grocery-store scene in which one shopper was profanely insulted by another shopper. The second scenario, set in an apartment building, involved one resident attempting to engage another in conversation about a shooting in front of the building the night before, and the second neighbor dismissively refuses to engage. Lively discussion followed, in which the entire group examined the interactions depicted in the role plays and shared insights.

Participants noted the many, complex barriers to community building in Crown Heights; yet several still emphasized the importance of simple, positive interaction. “We have to relate to each other as humans,” Tiffany Murray, an S.O.S. volunteer and faith-based leader, said. “We must be courageous, and allow ourselves to be vulnerable. We can’t let fear rule our lives.”

The conversation concluded with an examination of the benefits of direct short term action, as well as action that can transform the neighborhood’s social culture to reduce the tendency toward violence.  Rabbi Bob Kaplan, director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, commented, “It reminds me of the lessons of Smoky the Bear; it’s easier to prevent fires than to put them out.”
The third Community Conversation of this series will be held in June, with details to be determined. Click here to learn more about upcoming CHCMC/S.O.S. events in May, including our Arts to End Violence block party on May 18th and gallery opening on May 23rd.