This is the fifth of the Building Peace series in Crain's Chicago Business. It was written by Asiaha Butler, co-founder and president of Resident Association of Greater Englewood (RAGE), and Deborah Bennett, senior program officer for Polk Bros. Foundation.
In the first weeks of last summer, Asiaha Butler's block in Englewood saw a rash of shootings. Instead of running away, she and neighbors stayed and stood for peace.
They transformed a lot they previously reclaimed into a space of healing and peace. They hosted pop-up block parties throughout the summer where small children, teens and families could enjoy each other's company without looking over their shoulders for bullets. They responded to sporadic episodes of violence with sporadic acts of peace. Through small steps, they transformed and stabilized their block.
Butler's grassroots group of concerned residents, business owners, students, parents and grandparents in Englewood is called the Resident Association of Greater Englewood, or RAGE. Organizations like RAGE are making our city's communities stronger. Strong communities deter violence. Neighbors look out for each other, elders aren't afraid of young people and public spaces are safe. This just makes sense. It's also supported by recent research. New York University Sociologist Patrick Sharkey concluded that residents and community organizations have the capacity to control violence.
RAGE is one of 132 neighborhood organizations that received $850,000 in grants of $1,000 to $10,000 from Chicago's Partnership for Safe & Peaceful Communities because of this deterrence capacity. These grants are part of the partnership's broader $40 million investment in violence reduction strategies.
This story is about the Community Safety and Peace strategy of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities.
If you are an employer, you can hire young people at risk. If you are a community leader, you can help improve police-community relations. If you are a health care provider, you can support trauma-informed care to gun violence victims. If you are a funder, you can support any one of these efforts. Whatever you do, your voice matters when you speak up in support of policies that can make our neighborhoods safer. Reach out to learn more.