Last night at the Launch Charter School at P.S. 243, S.O.S. held the first in a series of dialogues about neighborhood violence. Over 20 community members of all ages gathered to discuss the issues. The evening began with introductions, each person sharing their reasons for joining the conversation. Some people wanted to learn more about the issue, while others, having lived in the community for many years, wanted to discuss their experience with the rest of the group.

The conversation moved on to how violence affects our community. In addition to the direct effects of violence, we also discussed what the more indirect consequences of are. Some that came up were feelings of fear and a lack of safety, as well as barriers to businesses and jobs moving to the community.  In addition to gun violence, other types of violence such as domestic violence, verbal abuse, and systemic violence were surfaced.

The discussion then turned to causes and origins of violence. Many ideas came up amongst the group as to ways that the cycle of violence can be perpetuated. Everybody brought different ideas to the circle, all of which were recorded by staff.

Staff closed the evening by asking the attendees to first write down what they would like to see at future conversations, and then to share one word about how they were feeling. Words that came up included “inspired,” “surprised,” “angry,” and “hopeful.” Many people expressed anticipation for future conversations.

The next Community Conversation will be on November 21st, where we will begin to discuss strategies to combat violence as a community. All are welcome to attend, including those who weren’t in attendance at the first Conversation.