Weed And Seed Report
What a fitting session for me, I thought as I looked over Tuesday afternoon's agenda schedule at the 2007 CCDO National Conference. Getting People Involved, yes, what are the sources I need to motivate, challenge, and guide me in community causes, was my feeling. It was my most interesting and attentive session during the conference. I enjoyed the speaker's presentation. The elements she set forth for engaging people in a cause, and how to go about implementing them. An example was part of the taped last speech of Martin Luther King Jr. Emphasis was placed on the effectiveness of that speech.
I left that session wondering how I would apply that which I learned.
So here I was in Detroit, this year's site for the Justice Department's event, which sponsors Weed and Seed. Engrossed in first hand experience of community involvement; Trying to learn some tools of the trade. An experience that was not burdensome to me, but that I found myself comfortable in, and eager to gain some knowledge and understanding. Overall the entire conference was quite profound and enlightening. I had the opportunity to sit in one session attended by police officers and active community members, some of which were former gang members. A very touching and heart felt session as counselors expressed their dealings with gang members. One spoke about how she has an open door policy with gang members, which has developed into a trusting relationship with some; to the point where they are able to call her 24 hours.
One gentleman spoke about how the love he expresses to gang members leaves them in awe. He pointed out how important this was to their heart as opposed to anger and hatred. As a reference point, he called attention to the doctor in Connecticut whose home was invaded by two intruders who murdered his wife, and were responsible for his two daughters' death. At the funeral he expected the man to express rage and anger at these two individuals. However, when he spoke, he only encouraged those in attendance to hug and express love to their relatives.
Love, the significant element in community involvement. It sparks care and concern, which I've seen exhibited by Denean Ferguson in her Project Neighbor H.E.L.P. initiative. I was impressed to join her on one of the stops, the Ocean Bay Houses, in this undertaking after I left Detroit. The door knocking aspect, which I learned about in my session in Detroit, came in the form of music booming from a DJ's system. Program representatives steadily streamed in as tables were retrieved for their pamphlets and literature. My most challenging moment at that time was trying to stop the papers from blowing away from the first representative's table. Afew rubber bands and items from my car, used as weights, and that problem was nipped.
Then she came, a senior from the Ocean Bay Houses who was not pleased with the noise from the music. It had awakened her from her sleep after a night of work. No amount of explaining the cause for the event could appeal to her. The disappointment in that confrontation was overshadowed by the disappointment in the turnout for the event. I felt as if the speakers that day were addressing the buildings. Those that were passing by, some of which visited the CUNY Mobile, barely gave a listening ear. Now I could not help but to think what if…was the time of the day bad? Should we be in a different area of the complex?
I realized what great effort it takes to work for this cause, keeping in mind that not all will be receptive. I did have an opportunity to speak with a young lady who actually approached me about our cause for being there that day. She expressed how good it was to see something like this happening in the community. She shared how her mom had to walk blocks away to a store because the ones on the corner were no longer operating. She stated that something needed to been done. No doubt her concern is common, and would bring about change through community mobilization by those who share her view. I am persuaded to do whatever I can to assist in making a difference in the communities. If a little goes a long way, then it's worth the effort.
Contact Denean Ferguson, Site Coordinator, at 646.552.8453 for information or to help make a difference. Also, see www.farrockawayweedandseed. com.