2006-09-29 / Community

Weed & Seed Speaks...

By Denean Ferguson

Weed and Seed is a community-based organization run by the US Department of Justice's Community Capacity Development Office. It involves the partnership between law enforcement, which 'weeds' out crime, and the 'seed' or community part, which involves human services such as programs for prevention, intervention, treatment and neighborhood revitalization. Denean Ferguson is the new site coordinator for the program.

Weed and Seed sounds like the latest gardening product, perhaps new competition for Miracle Gro. Then, again, it could be code name for the latest street drug, a potent derivative of the cannabis plant (marijuana, in laymen's terms). Although neither of the above is the case, the term does have somewhat of a punning relationship with both connotations.

Operation Weed & Seed has been a strategy at work in Far Rockaway for approximately seven years. Originating with the Department of Justice, its basic tenet is to "weed out" crime and "seed in" opportunities to deter criminal activity by providing educational, cultural, and recreational programs. Collaboration exists between law enforcement and the community, in a determined effort to eradicate crime and improve the quality of life.

The Far Rockaway community identified drugs, gangs, guns, and domestic violence as priorities in its strategy. There are concerned citizens, namely residents and others with a vested interest, impacting these blights on our community. The true remedy to the problem lies within this group, not government programs. That's not to belittle the need for a catalyst. Operation Weed & Seed provides a great launching pad, with start-up resources and technical assistance for capacity building and program expansion.

Ahh, but, the antidote resides in the heart and mind of a community that refuses to surrender to the onslaught of criminal activity. YOU and I must be fully engaged in a concentrated and purpose driven offense. We cannot see the guns discharged, see the drug sales made, see the spouse abused, then close our eyes in pretense, and yet, hold law enforcement accountable. As such, we become accomplices and enablers to the proliferation of such acts. May God help us, yes, God, help us to become proactive and defiant toward these evils, by exposing them to corrective action.

Far Rockaway received its first Official Recognition as a Weed & Seed Site from the Department of Justice in 1997. This recognition is given to over 300 sites with high incidence of violent crime and drug activity. The target area was Arverne/Edgemere, between Beach 38 and Beach 59 Streets. It is from this neighborhood that the recent drug and gang sweeps netted over 95 arrests. After the expiration of the five year designation, Rockaway was awarded Official Recognition for an Expansion Site. This area is located in the Northeast section of the 101 Pct. West to Dickens, South to Cornaga Ave., East to Beach 9, and North to the Nassau County border. The site is currently in year three of its five-year cycle. A $225,000 grant has been awarded to leverage more resources for law enforcement (weed) and quality of life improvements (seed). Both strategies share in an equal part allocation of the grant.

The focus is not and should not be about the money, it's the strategy....prevent, control, eliminate crime. "[Community Capacity Development Office] CCDO helps communities help themselves." The next bullet or addiction could hurt or kill your child or mine. Let's work together to keep it from happening. The Steering Committee, which is the governing body for the Site, meets monthly on the third Wednesday, at 1:30 p.m., at Church of God Christian Academy in Far Rockaway. All concerned, with a mind to work, are needed to attend. We are not about lip service or philosophical ideals. Our success will be achieved with residents and organizations joined in an ongoing commitment to make a difference. With a little Miracle , our Far Rockaway community can emerge and Grow to a fruitful garden and oasis.

For more information, www.far

rockawayweedandseed.com or Denean Ferguson @ 646.552.8453.

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