by Srishti Sharma
How do you get a pastor, an educator, a retired serviceman, chief of police, the mayor and representatives from different fields to come together in one room at 7am in the morning and share their views in agreement? The answer is simple. They are all dedicated to a common cause and are sworn to the priorities of creating safety and solidarity in their community. Recently, we got to attend the meeting of CASP, (Community Alliance for Safety and Peace) a community safety division that serves as a back bone for the city of Salinas which has had a history of violence. The members of this community decided to come together in unison and took matters into their hands to find solutions to the increasing rates of crime in the city. They chose not to live in terror all the time and a bunch of heavy hitters collaborated together to formulate strategic control plans for violence prevention.
Live share of resources are invested in prevention of violence, intervention in youth activities, law enforcement and helping offenders to integrate back in the community. This response to violence is about aligning efforts around the key focus areas. This community impact approach works effectively and helps in providing a concrete solution. As a response to prevention of violence, pre natal and infant care is provided. Stress is laid on education, after school activities, dropout and truancy prevention and job programs. Faith and community based organizations intervene by getting in touch with schools to help prevent the risk of youth getting strayed to a violent path. Violent offenders are targeted and are helped to come out of the cycle of crime and enter the cycle of care. Efforts are made to help the released offenders re- enter into the community and succeed after prison so that they don’t reoffend. Groups of people who are needy are helped and supported by the organization. But, for a cause so large it is important to pool in from different agencies and include people with positional authority. Is it always that easy? The answer is no! It has its own challenges. First and the foremost it is difficult finding people who think alike and would be ready to work for a common goal or lend support for better good, selflessly. Though cross sector collaboration helps in professional networking and building a strong channel, funding poses an issue as the list of partners change when the funding cycle changes. There is always a fear of sustainability. So, it is important to ensure that funds keep flowing and are evenly distributed. Despite all these challenges how does the CASP keeps going and makes pace?
Values are what they use as a shield to march on. Finding common values and placing them in the centre is used as a long term yield investment in fight for hope. Making space inclusively and including diversity to re-establish values of relationship helps in overcoming challenges. Collaboration is good but cooperation becomes a challenge so there is no one person calling the shots. All decisions are done collectively. Ideologies are separated from values and listening to one another is respected and used as a catalyst to bring about a good change. And all this for por un futuro mejor, a better future for they believe that when the community becomes stronger, the evils become weaker.