The Power of Community Alliances

By Cassandra Cronin

I think the Community Alliance for Safety and Peace (CASP) meeting is good example of what can be achieved if organizations are given the space to come together and collaborate. This space for collaboration allows them to group limited resources in order for those resources to have a greater impact on the community. I left the session wondering about how this same model could be used across all types of organizations, and how a similar coalition could benefit student organizations at a college level. At Wellesley, one of the most frustrating aspects of being a part of an organization was feeling isolated. Because there was no easy way to reach out to all the orgs on campus, it became difficult to collaborate. Additionally, many orgs felt territorial about the events they wanted to throw, and refused to work alongside others. This resulted in an over-programming of similar events with low attendance (especially if no food was provided). Establishing a similar coalition at Wellesley would not only foster a stronger sense of community and alleviate the issue of over-programming, it would also allow organizations to support each other.

A good example of the power of these community coalitions was reflected in the “National Night Out” event, which was held at the Salinas Recreation Center on August 6th. The goal of the “National Night Out,” an annual event, was to promote strong police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie in order to make Salinas a safer, more caring, and stronger community. CASP members commented on the significance of the event for the community after the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting. Everyone especially celebrated how the local organizations helped voice support for and publicize the event, which increased community attendance. Better coordination between organizations on events and outreach, like the “National Night Out” event in other cities could lead to greater community engagement.

Concerning the meeting’s agenda, the most impactful part was when José Arreola encouraged everyone to reflect on the shootings in Gilroy, CA. More importantly, he wanted everyone in the room to think about how the shooting affected them personally and as leaders. Before that moment, I had not taken much time to reflect on the latest mass shooting. I realized that I had become somewhat desensitized to the violence, and cynical about the prospects of instituting gun control or anything remotely resembling meaningful change. From the public outrage surrounding Sandy Hook to the heartless “thoughts and prayers” social media posts surrounding El Paso, many Americans have learned to equate mass shootings as an unfortunate part of life in America. I took note of how dangerous that indifference can be. I wasn’t even sure of how to answer this question. I mentioned that a part of me gets nervous when my family goes out to see a movie, to fearing that my little brother’s high school will be broadcast as the latest tragedy. I deeply appreciated the time to reflect and share my thoughts with others.

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