Tuesday, January 19, 2010

JNS BLOG POST NUMBER 2,000! PEACE Foundation To Make Major Shift In Its Mission!

Photo by John Hoff; Don Samuels, one of the PEACE Foundation founders

I wanted blog post 2,000 to be something important and worthwhile, so here it is...

The PEACE Foundation--which has done so many vigils for the victims of shootings in North Minneapolis, has announced a major shift in its mission. Here is a release which Sondra Samuels sent out some days ago...

Ambitiously six years ago, Michelle Martin, Kevin Reich, and my husband, Don Samuels, created the PEACE Foundation—a grass roots movement made up of people across race, class and geography, committed to working together to end local violence. Their bold vision: to end local violence, starting on the Northside. Their approach: to mobilize a movement of caring community members who would come together with the dual task of healing racial wounds while preventing the psychic and lethal wounding of the children and adults living in the most vulnerable pockets of North Minneapolis.

Delivering Results. Demonstrating Hope

Although 2010 has had a painful beginning, with one homicide in North Minneapolis and a total of five city-wide, BECAUSE of OUR work TOGETHER: Crime is down 25% in North Minneapolis from two years ago, and homicides are down 75% in North Minneapolis from two years ago – a development which serves as the leading correlate to the overall decline in homicides city-wide.

The reason the PEACE Foundation has been delivering results is because of YOU—the neighbors, youth and organizations of North Minneapolis, allies from the broader community, volunteers, funders, as well as a host of spiritual supporters. Together we have served as "public demonstrations of hope" by:

Breaking Our Isolation and Creating Community Celebrations—In order to bring Northsiders together with each other, and the broader community, we created Northside community celebrations, such as, the PEACE Ball, GO! 5K Fun Run/Walk and FLOW: Northside ArtCrawl.

Going to the Places of Greatest Need—All of our events and outreach efforts - from PEACE Across the Northside, to Street parties, Vigils and Rapid Response efforts, happen in areas where crime and violence is the highest.

Changing the hearts of People and then Policies—Once hearts are changed policies will change. Over the years we've grown in our understanding and concern for each other through your participation in our Forums, race dialogues, vigils, and bus tours. These activities have led to successful advocacy for the Northside and relationship building with key elected officials. In 2009, our collective work led to the MN legislature passing a bill which redefines youth violence as a public health issue.

Working Together Across Divides—Through our shared work, mothers of murdered children and suburban churchgoers stood arm in arm at vigils and at the capitol, signaling a collective response to tragedy with a promise of solutions to come. And this coming together has produced significant results! It is to that end that we have built coalitions across race, class, geography, and organizations. Some of the coalitions we have helped to launch include, Ally groups, Northside Policy Action Coalition, Northside Youth StandUp!, the Hope Collaborative, FLOW and GO! Planning Committees, and now - the Northside Achievement Zone.

A Major Transition to the Future of Our Movement—The Northside Achievement Zone

When the PEACE Foundation began, we knew that violence was not the problem, but instead a symptom of a larger problem. As crime and violence have declined on the Northside, it has become clear that poor educational outcomes and life prospects for low-income youth of color in the community, is, in fact, the underlying issue that must be addressed. It is to that end that two years ago, 50 organizations that serve youth and families on the Northside, came together to form a collaborative effort that will guarantee opportunities for all children growing up in the areas of the Northside most impacted by crime, violence and poverty.

This effort, called the "Northside Achievement Zone", or "NAZ", is inspired by the success of the Harlem Children's Zone. Focusing on a defined geographic area or "zone" in the heart of North Minneapolis, its goal is to create a "Culture of Achievement," guaranteeing college-readiness for every single child living in the zone. As the effort continues to take shape, its enormous potential is receiving national attention. Simply put, NAZ has the potential to forever change the lives of North Minneapolis children-the ones who need it most-for the better.

NAZ — The New Key Initiative of the PEACE Foundation

When NAZ was started, the PEACE Foundation was designated as a co-leader of the initiative, and our Executive Director, Michelle Martin, served as Co-Chair of the effort throughout the two-year planning process. During that time, as the work of the collaborative grew, so did our entire organization's involvement. Because of our commitment to the vision of NAZ, much of our energy and resources went towards its' goals. As the work in the zone continued to evolve, it became abundantly clear that there would need to be one strong lead organization carrying out the work of the collaborative. Consequently, leadership of the collaborative agreed that the PEACE Foundation should be that organization. Today we are proud to announce that the Northside Achievement Zone is now our primary initiative.

Currently we are in a transitional phase—shoring up our internal structures, ensuring transparent operations and fiscal accountability, restructuring our Board of Directors, and aligning our entire organization with the work of NAZ.

What This Means to YOU—Our PEACE Foundation Partners

The major change for you is that our approach to ending violence is shifting to one of promoting achievement. We will prevent the seeds of violence from even taking root! We will continue partnering with faith organizations and businesses, conducting vigils, bus tours, coordinated policy advocacy, and community building events... all now with an eye toward promoting educational achievement in the Zone. However, in addition, we will also be increasing our capacity to recruit volunteers to mentor, tutor and serve children and families in the Zone.

The bottom line is that—WE NEED YOU NOW MORE THAN EVER!

Finally, taking the lead in the Northside Achievement Zone collaborative is both humbling and exciting! Never before have so many organizations and people come together to focus like a laser beam on the children in one geographic area of the greatest need. I believe we can change the course of their lives and in so doing, the life of our entire community—both the Northside and the entire region. But we cannot and will not do it in isolation. We need many more leaders, supporters and workers across race, class, and geography to work together for our children's achievement and success!

Please join us!

Sondra Samuels


(Blog post by John Hoff, blogging from Dallas, Texas)


MeganG. said...

While I agree this is a huge milestone for the northside - IMHO, you totally missed how huge it actually is. Your modest blog post doesn't do it justice.

First, about the homocide vigils, yes it's true - Don Samuels started doing vigils as a private citizen, then as 3rd ward councilmember, then the PEACE Foundation took over the 'sponsoring' of the vigils.

But the vigils is not why the PEACE foundation is so successful. They have been fully dedicated and devoted towards bringing community together to prevent violence, especially youth violence. They have done this in many ways - lobbying on the legislature, organizing youth support, holding community block parties so neighbors can get together, get to know each other. Building block clubs. Anti-gang recruitment. The list goes on. They have been unwaivering in this mission, despite having some violent incidents at their own events! They used those tragedies as motivation and reminders of why they work so hard! And they have even held Six PEACE Balls - a fun, classy event that reminds the northside that we are one, and we have reasons to celebrate!

And so for them to now be shifting their main focus to improving education, in such a progressive, cutting edge approach - it really is fabulous news.

I think it marks a major shift for the northside - a new era - and I can't think of a better organization than the PEACE foundation to lead the way - there are amazing people, of all genders race and age there at the foundation and they are working HARD!!

Johnny Northside said...

I don't think any blog post--not even a special milestone blog post--can do this organization justice for all the great stuff it has done for NoMi and, it appears, will continue to do.

Anonymous said...

Wait, wait, wait a minute.

I'm pretty neutral about this organization since I don't know that much about them. But how can they make this claim:

"BECAUSE of OUR work TOGETHER: Crime is down 25% in North Minneapolis from two years ago, and homicides are down 75% in North Minneapolis from two years ago"

That statement implies the Peace Foundation is responsible or largely responsible for the drop in crime. Did some outside, independent organization come in and somehow figure out the reasons behind the drop in crime taking into account all the possible variables? After they did that, did this independent organization come to the conclusion the Peace Foundation was responsible for the drop in crime? Show me this report please.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:15 says:
"BECAUSE of OUR work TOGETHER: Crime is down 25% in North Minneapolis from two years ago, and homicides are down 75% in North Minneapolis from two years ago"

That statement implies the Peace Foundation is responsible or largely responsible for the drop in crime.

I Say:
Whereas this press release appears to be directed to the general public of the neighborhood, I don't think there's any inaccuracy in the PEACE Foundation making the statement they have.

Unless of course you're of the belief that the efforts of those living and working within the community played no part in the substantiated decreases in the crime and homicide rates. O

ne can at the very least assume that 25% of those that would have committed a crime chose not to and 75% of those that would have committed a homicide choose not to. Otherwise, it's logical to assume that the crime and homicide rates would have remained static (or worsened) year-to-year.

With that said, one should be willing to assume that any organization that strategically markets the ideas of non-violence and wholesome behaviour at the very least, played a part (which is what they are actually claiming), in the improvements.

MeganG. said...

I'll put in my opinion's worth - and I have actually talked with Sondra Samuels about this, while we have discussed drops in crime she would attribute to many, many different slices of one big pie.

Some slices bigger than others, some slices are somewhat unknown, but that all the slices put together add up to the whole pie - which is the decrease in violence and crime in general.

So basically they are hoping that extra work and reformations through education, especially at a young age, and extra focus on getting students off to college - will end up becoming a BIGGER slice of the pie - but still the same pie = decrease in violence/crime.

So I think the press release working of "our work together" means in general, all the slices of the pie, anyone and everyone that puts effort in through various ways.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I've read and reread that press release several times and what I hear them saying is they are responsible for the decrease either by their efforts directly or by their ability to bring together all the forces necessary to make this change in the homicide rate. If this is true - GREAT! - , but prove it to me. Lets replicate it across the country!

Remember the D.A.R.E Program and how for so many years we were told and eagerly accepted it was having such a huge impact on young people and drug abuse? Look what's being said about it now. Google "dare program evaluation". Interesting reading to say the least.

I'm not trying by any means to discredit the Peace Foundation, but I'm also not willing to accept claims or implied claims without proof. We've been down this road too many times in this neighborhood with way too many organizations.

Anonymous said...

That picture is of Don Samuels holding the 'model' post for the modified BUTT FENCE - an example of this blog having an impact on positive changes in NoMi - No More Butt Fence! No-Butt-y sitting on the fence outside Merwins!

The Hawthorne Hawkman said...

I'm all for accuracy in terms of who gets credit for what, which is one reason why I push back whenever the reduction in crime is attributed to some nationwide trend.

In the same vein, I appreciate the substantive questions about the Peace Foundation's role in the reduction of crime and youth violence in NoMi over the past few years. While my direct contact with this organization has been somewhat limited, I've got this to say:

This link details a significant drop in youth violence, and the strategies used to get us there have been recognized as groundbreaking by the National League of Cities. Much of what is referenced in that release is work either done or strongly supported by the Peace Foundation.

I think the press release that is the topic of discussion on the current blog post overstates the foundation's role a bit, but only a little. And what press release doesn't make that kind of appeal using broad strokes? I have to agree that the work of the Peace Foundation has played a significant role in the reduction of crime in NoMi.

MeganG. said...

@Anon 350 - it sounds like you have read and re-read it with your mind already made up - already skeptical. Go back and read it with the notion that it is written to anti-crime/anti-violence partners of a wide variety: donors, volunteers, law enforcement, public policy admins, neighbors in the targeted communities, outside neighbors from partnering organizations/churches/and neighborhoods that are NOT impacted, other non-profits and programs with similar or interwoven missions - read it with that in mind and perhaps it will come off as intended.

But if you keep your cynicism in tact, you won't get the effect.

But hey - let's bring it back to positive and not pick apart the few & far between positive news stories that we get to revel in.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Jeff for the comments and link. That gives me a bit more to go on.


"But if you keep your cynicism in tact" - So when did asking questions become a mark of cynicism? Did I trash the Peach Foundation? Did I say they weren't doing anything worthwhile? No I didn't. I only asked for something to back up what was said in that press release.

I'm simply not the type of person who follows just because someone tells me to follow. Maybe that's worked for you, but it never has for me.

The Hawthorne Hawkman said...

One comment rejected due to spam content.

Bryan Thao Worra said...

Great to see the Peace Foundation continuing to examine its practices and to develop a dynamic response to what are often rapidly changing conditions within North Minneapolis. Looking forward to seeing the results in the coming years ahead.

MeganG. said...

@Anon - 213pm

Sorry! you are right, it wasn't appropriate of me to say your questions were cynical.

I apologize for that!

Anyone who is interested can subscribe to the PEACE elerts directly by going to www.citypeace.org - perhaps getting them directly helps to receive the tone in which they are written.

Warm Regards!

Anonymous said...

i think there were a lot of factors that contribute to less crime. though nobody should celebrate too much. we have had 6 murders in the first month of the year.

i also know that jerry mcaffee (spelling?) of new salem baptist church has been doing some amazing things, under the radar all of 2009, bringing youth gang members to his church on a regular basis where they are finding creative ways to deal with the issues that folks have against each other without using gun violence.

i know someone who has attended some of these gatherings and he has been astounded with what jerry and other men from his church have been able to do with some of these young men. at one gathering he mentioned seeing most if not all of the younger gang leaders in their together, working their stuff out.

i would have to wonder if his gatherings have had much to do with the decrease? it's unadvertised and though jerry gets lots of bad press, some things he does has great impact.

who knows how it all adds up though, right? we've had 6 homocides in the first month so we'll see how 2010 looks...

Anonymous said...

Just because Rev. McAfee's own son and a bunch of his friends were hanging out at the church, doesn't mean the Rev was doing anti-gang work. LOL.

No. McAfee doesn't do anything under the radar, except his criminal real estate deals of course. If he has been doing some kind of anti-gang work and has been getting even a hint of any kind of success or movement on it, he'd be shouting it from the rooftops.

Anonymous said...

i too hold the same cynycism of mcafee as you. but the person who i know who attended these gatherings is someone i trust completely. so it seemed legit.