Violence no more. Is it even possible? A survey of Twin Cities and American life would yield doubt. Violence is so much - too much - a part of daily life in too many families, in the mean streets among disaffected young people finding a home in gangs; from too many official sources - like the police; in public and foreign policy - like war and domestic dissent, and in what we accept as entertainment. Love (and sex) are hypocritically more taboo than violence in our film, television and comic books. Too many children are raised by unhappy and dysfunctional families - often in poverty, but not always. Suburban violence easily matches that found in the urban core. In fact, suburban and rural violence is often leveled on masses of people, not individuals.
Children watch their fathers abuse their mothers and their siblings. Or mothers their children. Many grow up under a constant threat of violence if they simply behave as all children do - dependently. They learn early on that we resolve conflict by lashing out verbally and physically, settle arguments with fists and weapons, acquire things by taking them, perhaps at the point of a gun or knife. We live and barely function in a culture of violence. To shift such a culture away is a steep, uphill quest.
And, in his Blueprint for Action, Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak defines youth violence as a public health epidemic that requires a holistic, multi-faceted response. He is drawing on a mix of increased law enforcement and public health strategies to address the root causes of violence and significantly reduce and prevent youth violence in Minneapolis, the city, in partnership with a host of community stakeholders.
And, yet...pockets of resistance to violence are forming and growing in communities wracked with more than their share of victimhood in this culture. One of these efforts is rooted in North Minneapolis where young people from a variety of personal cultures and experiences to dig out the root causes of violent behavior and to construct ways of avoiding and diverting that behavior and shifting conflict resolution to a more civil arena. Helped by a University of Minnesota Youth Development leader and funds from foundations and others, Community Power Against Violence looks to harnessing the energy and passion of its youth members and the practical organization of their adult mentors to direct those energies toward alternative approaches.
TTT's ANDY DRISCOLL and LYNNELL MICKELSEN talk with some young movers of CPAV and their adult leaders to get an idea of what all communities might do to turn us around from practicing violence as an instinctive response to conflict.
GUESTS: include BEKI SAITO - Senior Analyst, Center for 4-H Youth Development, University of Minnesota, and Chair, Community Power Against Violence (CPAV); ABDIRAHMAN MUKHTAR, Youth Programs Manager, Brian Coyle Center, Minneapolis; and CPAV Youth Members INDIA ARMOUR, ADRIAN EBERHARDT, and BONNSY VUE.