“Guns down, books up! Guns down, books up!” On Saturday, August 18th, Kingston Avenue rang out with messages of anti-violence at this year’s Back to School Peace and Play Street, attended by over 800 people. This year’s annual event was special because staff shared with the community that the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center will be officially changing its name to Neighbors in Action on our 20th anniversary in October.

David Gaskin, Program Manager of S.O.S. shared Neighbors in Action focus areas that reflect our current programming and our strategy for creating a safer and healthier neighborhood: safety, healing, leading, organizing, helping and placemaking. David asked, “What does Neighbors in Action mean to you?” He stated, “We are in this community with you and in this neighborhood, we want to do something different. We want to take action with you around the issues we care about, whether it’s gun violence or helping out our neighbors with legal issues.”

Marlon Peterson, a longtime resident of Crown Heights and a former staff member who held multiple positions at the Mediation Center encouraged listeners to join Neighbors in Action. “Neighbors in Action is you looking at each other. Neighbors in Action is about a community that sees a need and is filling that need with each other. So while there are superheroes standing up here on the stage, there are superheroes standing in the crowd as well.”

If you missed our event, there are still many ways to be involved. Text “NIA” to 22828 to sign up, or go to crownheights.org and sign up for our mailing list. Follow us on our social media (Facebook, twitter, and Instagram) to learn about events and how you can support our strategy. Our first Neighbors in Action Volunteer Orientation will be held on September 26th at 6pm—let us know at info@neighborsinaction.org if you can join us.

We are so excited to be moving towards a vision of safer and healthier communities, led by collective action from our neighbors.

All photos taken by Stephen Yang