Planning underway for West Side Safety Summit

(Plain Press, January 2007) At a December 2nd meeting at Urban Community School at W. 50th and Lorain Avenue, a group of about 20 community residents and non profit agency staff members began a planning process they hope will lead to creating a coalition of community groups, business leaders, citizens, youth church leaders and social service advocates to plan a West Side Safety Summit. The goal of the group is to create a forum in which dialogue can occur between city leaders and the community to identify real solutions to Cleveland’s growing safety problems.

May Dugan Center community organizer Tim Walters said the initial idea for the summit came from a couple of community meetings held at St. Colman’s Church in the aftermath of six murders in Ward 17 and Ward 18 within the span of a few weeks this past summer. Walters said the idea for the summit came from a consensus that “there is a serious problem that needs to be addressed, and a concern about the level of violence young people in our neighborhoods are being exposed to.”

The group’s initial planning session included staff members from May Dugan Center, Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization, Tremont West Development, Stockyards Redevelopment Organization, Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation and area residents. Discussion centered on making information about the occurrence of crime and crime statistics more accessible to the general public. They also discussed successful programs that worked to reduce crime and how to let people know about them.

How to include the various parts of the community in the planning process and the summit was also a concern. Ways of involving youth in planning and participating in the summit in a meaningful way was discussed. A prostitution problem along Lorain Avenue and several successful programs that helped prostitutes to leave the profession were mentioned. Also noted was the need to address substance abuse and poverty in conjunction with fighting crime. Residents from Lakeview and Riverview talked about being left out of the loop in terms of being informed about meetings about crime.

One resident urged that notices about crime meetings be sent out by mail to those that don’t have access to a computer for email.

The process was facilitated by Ed Boyle of the Cleveland Mediation Program After initial brainstorming, the group decided to focus on four area in preparing for the Safety Summit:
    - how to get youth involved in planning and participating in the summit
    - community participation – who needs to be involved in planning the summit
    - funding and resources needed to put on the summit,  and
    - how to get the word out to the public about the summit.

The next planning meeting of the West Side Safety Summit is on Saturday, January 13 from 10 a.m. until noon at Urban Community School, 4909 Lorain Avenue. For more information about the Safety Summit, call Tim Walters at the May Dugan Center at 631-5800.


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