Community level violence has not dissipated in recent years in spite of the many efforts we have made to impact the problem of violence. The good news is that violence is not so widespread and threatening to our quality of life. However, the latest FBI report on violence in communities shows that while violence has not spiked in our community, it has stayed constant. To me this means our work is not over and that we must call ourselves to take actions to change environmental and social conditions that permit violence. The hope for change was brought home to me recently when I visited the Safe Streets East Abe’s group.
I was struck by their six year commitment to reclaim their neighborhood. The East Abe’s reside in an area bounded by Pacific Avenue, East 34th Street, 38th Street and Highway 7. Six years ago residents gathered to eliminate several drug houses, community blight, graffiti, and disconnection among residents. They took on the challenge to transform their community from isolation and self-interest into connectedness and caring. A group of 35 remarkable people got to know each other. They have established neighborhood walk-abouts, an annual neighborhood clean-up, regular graffiti removal and they have worked closely with law enforcement to close down seven drug houses! All of this activity has built stronger connections between neighbors. It is our belief at Safe Streets that by building connections between people we can help each other to seek solutions to reduce conflict rather than escalating violence.
The East Abe area is much safer now because members work together to watch out for each other, resolve conflicts, and even prepare for an impending disaster. Esther, their leader, says that Safe Streets is the glue that has held their neighborhood together. Today they celebrate a 20% reduction in crime. The East Abe’s deserve a big shout out for their tightly connected network where neighbors are accountable for community safety.
We want every neighborhood to experience the success that East Abe has. If you are interested joining a Safe Streets Neighborhood Group or are interested in starting your own group, please visit our webpage or call the Safe Streets office at (253) 272-6824.