Chicago Peace Fellows Update from Dr. Sokoni Karanja

I have enjoyed my first few weeks as a GATHER Peace Fellow. There are many reasons for that statement! One, it provides such an opportunity for place making. By that, I mean our collective action could help define how Peace is achieved in a City so challenged by violence! The second reason is that I have had an opportunity to interview the other fellows:

Maria Velazquez, who is an organizer in Little Village, is a warm and gentle spirit but inside that exterior is a determined heart that shows up every day to take on whatever challenge she encounters. She has taught me about dealing with losing community as you organize. People get tired or get involved in their personal life struggles and must step back from the community effort.


Johnny Payton is about 6 foot 4, maybe taller, but managed to survive and thrive during his early years in the Cabrini-Green public housing development. He is and was an excellent athlete. He managed to walk through every gang in Cabrini and not join. He was of the community but kept his eyes on his goals. He works for the Chicago Park District and has for 22 years. He is committed to the youth of the community, succeeding in all the legitimate ways.

Gloria Smith is the sister to Phil Jackson, who taught my grandson Tai Chi Chuan and was the founder of the Black Star Project. After her brother’s passing, Gloria has come to fill his very large shoes!!! Phil was a bold human being. He picketed the MacArthur Foundation for their injustices to poor black and brown communities and turned around and received grants from them! Gloria and Phil were the niece and nephew of Vincent Harding, an icon of the Civil Rights movement. Just as importantly, Gloria has shared tapes of her uncle’s mentor, Howard Thurman, another icon of the African American community. She is another gentle spirit with a strong heart who is fearless. She works in three organizations, and she loves Bahia, Brazil.


And finally, the staff of GATHER are long suffering. They have endured my lack of understanding of this iPad machine they have told me is mine to keep!! It feels some days like my worst enemy. I am a turtle and they keep encouraging me. I have a space at their office where I practice with my tutors regularly. Thank you for the opportunity and for the many kindnesses.

Warm love,

PS: Our work is suffering from some loss of community!! As we have reduced the violence, created a successful garden, and formed positive relationships with other organizations, some of our participants have begun to step away from regular involvement in our activities. We are now revisiting our base through door-to-door canvassing to rebuild interest and attract new involvement. The garden at 5131 S. Calumet will be the focus of our effort to re-engage the community, and our first meeting around that target was on April 13, 2019, from 10 a.m. to noon.

Principles and Practices that Empower Shared Learning

On Wednesday, April 3, the Chicago Peace Fellows came together to build a list of principles and practices that will unlock shared learning and collaborationfor the group. This workshop was hosted by Peace Fellow Alex Levesque at his Automotive Mentor Group, where he trains young men and women to remodel classic cars. His program recruits youth at high risk of being involved with violence.

Chicago Peace Fellows Dr. Pamela Phoenix (left) and Jackie Moore join host Alex Levesque at the Automotive Mentoring Group.

Alex started the workshop with a tour of the facilities and details of his program, sharing how he helps young people find purpose through their work with cars. He told us about his triumphs in helping young people find gainful employment and some of his challenges with reaching young people and the barriers they face around employment, homelessness and violence in the community and at home.

Chicago Peace Fellow Alex Levesque (left) discussed principles for shared learning with Pastor Robert Biekman and Dr. Pamela Phoenix.

We started our conversation about the differences between best practices and best principles with Alex’s locker full of belts. He has a locker full of belts because it is a requirement that everyone has a belt on when working on the shop floor. He noted that many young people do not wear belts and that it would be a challenge to have to turn away a participant simply because they didn’t have the appropriate attire. Many of his participants come from different parts of town and have long and complex commutes. His best principle is safety first and a best practice that he developed was to have belts at the shop for anyone that needed one.

Chicago Peace Fellow Maria Velazqeuz (center) facilitates the conversation to uncover practices that enable shared learning with Fellows Dr. Sokoni Karanja, Jackie Moore and Gloria Smith.

After this conversation, we moved into a workshop where we sat in different groups and discussed what our best principles can be as a group. The group reflected on the course curriculum and reviewed the dozens of comments on the theme on the discussion board.

After a process of grouping comments into themes and prioritizing values that we can share and enact, the group refined the list to the following five core principles:

  • Communicate openly, inclusively, honestly and respectfully.
  • Promote compassion, harmony and peace.
  • Embrace mutual support and accountability.
  • Adopt an intergenerational and intersectional worldview.
  • Foster a growth mindset.

Chicago Peace Fellows Pamela Phoenix (left) and Jackie Moore compare notes about times where they have learned the most with peers.

The group will continue to grapple with these principles but they committed to adhering to these as a group in how they engage with each other, the curriculum and the communities in which we work. Often, what is shared between practitioners are best practices but we focus on best principles because the practices should fit the context, and principles encourage others to develop practices based on what’s best for them.

Chicago Peace Fellows Sokoni Karanja (left), Maria Velazquez, Gloria Smith, Pamela Phoenix, Jackie Moore, Burrell Poe (Coordinator) and Alex Levesque celebrate the successful workshop hosted at the Automotive Mentoring Group.

Illuminating Perspectives: Art and Social Justice

When artist and educator Cecil McDonald Jr. began working with children in the Chicago Public Schools some years ago, he heard something that disturbed him. The children were enjoying themselves in the playground and appeared to be carefree, but when Cecil interviewed them, he heard them “repeating the grand narratives of violence and pain,” a narrative that was created by adults and taught to them through the media they consumed.

Cecil McDonald, Jr. offers a guided tour to the Chicago Peace Fellows, including Dawn Hodges (left), Alex Levesque, Robin Cline, Adi Lerner, Ethan Michaeli (staff), Maria Velazquez and Jeanette Coleman.

He resolved to do something about it by creating images that find dignity and beauty in the everyday activities of African American families, and by empowering the youths to document their own lives through photography.

“I made that my charge,” McDonald said. “You ask them: ‘What image do you see? How do you see those images?’ And then you give them the camera so they can go out and tell their own stories.”

Jane Saks of Project& (left), Cecil McDonald, Jr. and Chicago Peace Fellows Coordinator Burrell Poe discuss the role of the arts in social change movements.

McDonald recently hosted the Chicago Peace Fellows at his exhibit of photographs entitled “In the Company of Black” at the Chicago Cultural Center. Containing large, posed images of African American subjects performing quotidian activities inside their homes – reading, sleeping, playing, getting ready for the day – the exhibit was created by McDonald over seven years to represent what he described as the “extraordinarily ordinary.”

[quote]“Artists are in the business of creating truth, creating magic. I depend on my ability to create to make the everyday seem extreme.” -- Cecil McDonald, Jr.[/quote]

For McDonald as for the other artists, the work had a common purpose with teachers, organizers and others working to empower communities. While artists are usually “the last ones brought in,” McDonald said artists focus people’s energy, reconstitute their self-image, and define their purpose.

Chicago Peace Fellow Robert Biekman (left) listens to Chicago artist Tonika Johnson explain how her Folded Map project brings different parts of the city together with fellow panelist Jane Saks.

McDonald was one of several artists who spoke to the Peace Fellows in an April 2nd workshop hosted by the Chicago Cultural Center entitled "Illuminating Perspectives: The Role of the Arts in Social Change." Tonika Lewis Johnson presented her Folded Map Project while artistic director Jane Saks talked about the intersections between art and social justice and the work of Project&, and Rahmaan Statik Barnes discussed his work as a street artist and muralist.

Tonika’s Folded Map Project utilizes Chicago’s long north-south streets to make visual connections between residents who live at corresponding addresses on the North and South sides of the city. She began the project as a photographic study but it proved very popular with the residents themselves, who enjoyed meeting their ‘opposite,’ and quickly gained widespread attention from mainstream media outlets so that Tonika added video and a new web site. The Folded Map Project is an investigation of urban segregation and its impacts on the people’s everyday lives.

Chicago Peace Fellows Velvian Boswell (left), Maria Velazquez, Robert Biekman, and Dawn Hodges review the photography exhibit In the Company of Black by Cecil McDonald, Jr.

The founding president of the Chicago-based Project&, Jane Saks has participated and led many different kinds of collaborations between artists and activists such as “Working in America,” a traveling exhibition and web archive inspired by Pulitzer Prize-winner Studs Terkel’s 1974 book “Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do,” a gathering of photos and stories of working folk in 17 states.

Jane enthusiastically cited her experiences to aver that artistic collaborations are uniquely situated to function as an ‘ecology’ where issues of equality and equity can be defined and discussed.

[quote]“In an ecology, things are not equal. They’re equitable. We’re not born with equality, but we can work for equity.” -- Jane Saks[/quote]

Turning to the Peace Fellows, Jane pointed out the similarities between their work as grassroots organizers and artists.

“As community activists, as social justice leaders, what you’re working to do is what people in the arts do,” Jane said. “Social justice workers and artists are both envisioning a future and creating things into existence.”

The Peace Fellows also heard from Rahmaan Statik, a public artist, designer, fine artist, illustrator and art teacher, who described the inspirations he received growing up on the South Side surrounded by urban art and public murals. A co-founder of a graphic arts and mural collective called R.K Design, Statik has produced over 400 murals and earned commissions for Coca Cola, Toyota, the village of Rosemont, and Red Bull, among other corporate clients.

Violence Recovery and Interruption at the Trauma Center

On Friday, March 22, 2019 the Goldin team and the Chicago Peace Fellows attended an in-person workshop hosted by the Violence Recovery Program at University of Chicago Medical Center. Executive Director of the Goldin Institute Travis Rejman began with some opening statements to keep in mind during the workshop: "In addition to the wisdom this team can share about violence recovery and prevention, their work provides an illuminating insight into what it takes to work on a wicked problem where you need to engage such a wide variety stakeholders, including victims of violence, doctors, administrators, families, community partners, law enforcement, case workers and spiritual care providers.”

[quote]"Social issues are adaptive challenges; there is no check list on how to solve them so you need a different mindset and different lens. This is a great place to launch our conversation.” -- Travis Rejman[/quote]

Bruce from the Violence Recovery Team shares how important it is to spend time with victims of violence to build trust in March 22, 2019 workshop.
The University of Chicago Medical Center started the Violence Recovery Program (VRP) on May 1, 2018, with the goal of treating not only primary trauma in victims of violence, but secondary trauma as well. In addition to treating serious injuries such as blunt trauma, gunshots, and stab wounds, the team also provides what they call “psychological first-aid,” which is compassionate guidance for family and friends of the victims.

The recovery team shared that people who are impacted by violence are more likely to be a victim or perpetrator of violence after they are released from the hospital and the team is to set up to disrupt that cycle. The Trauma Center will see 3,000 trauma causes this year, and almost 40% of those will be due to intentional violence.

Velvian Boswell (from left), Diane Latiker and Lisa Daniels discuss violence as an adaptive challenge in March 22, 2019 workshop.
The Peace Fellows were then led in a discussion by Senior Advisor Gabe Gonzalez, who asked them to analyze how the work of the VRP could provide insight into their own service to the community.

Together, the VRP team and the Peace Fellows discussed approaches to tackling adaptive challenges in their communities. Many agreed that proper resources were not often at the community’s disposal. Some of the Fellows as well as the VRP expressed a need for more staff and the need for self-care for their own teams.

Gabe Gonzalez (from left), Robert Biekman, Dawn Hodges, Jamila Trimuel and Pamela Pheonix share examples of community assets in March 22, 2019 workshop.
Conversely, the team was able to share some of the assets that do exist in their communities. Diane Latiker of Kids Off the Block mentioned the importance of schools in her neighborhood. Dr. Pamela Phoenix explained that the parents were a huge asset in her work. Jamila Trimuel praised the support of black women and young professionals.

Dawn Hodges (from left), Jamila Trimuel, Robin Cline, Pamela Pheonix, Jackie Moore, Jeanette Coleman, Pamela Butts, Gloria Smith, Lisa Daniels and Diane Latiker at the March 22, 2019 workshop.
The Peace Fellows are tasked with creating a project over the summer that will promote peace and encourage violence prevention at a time when violence is usually at its peak in Chicago. The support of a hospital-based violence intervention program at a major medical center in the city could be crucial to the impact of projects like these, and it could prepare the Violence Recovery Program to take further steps in bridging the gap to create bonds with the leaders of Chicago’s communities.

Many thanks to Leif, Mark, Bruce and Dre of Violence Recovery Program team for hosting us and for sharing their insight into this new model of violence recovery within the hospital system.

Crime and Criminal Justice in Chicago Event

On Tuesday, March 19, the Chicago Peace Fellows attended a City Club of Chicago luncheon titled, “Crime and Criminal Justice in Chicago: Challenges for the new mayor,” featuring Professor Jens Ludwig, director of the University of Chicago Crime Lab. The talk covered how Chicago as a city needs to handle the issue of violence.

Dr. Ludwig shared perspective and data to illustrate his understanding of the issue of violence in the city. He started by comparing Chicago to other major cities like New York and Los Angeles and explained that Chicago has historically had higher rates of violence by comparison.

Dr. Jens Ludwig of the Univesity of Chicago Crime Lab shares how violence in Chicago compares to other American city at the March 19, 2019 event at the City Club of Chicago.

The rate of homicides in America has gone through several boom and bust cycles throughout the decades, Ludwig said. Notably, this trend included a huge spike in homicides in the early ‘90s across the US along with a drop in the subsequent years. After the nationwide drop, Los Angeles and New York City’s rates remained low while Chicago saw a huge spike in homicides which peaked in 2016. The difference between the cities are stark and it’s even more shocking when you look at the violence rates per capita between the cities; L.A. and N.Y.C. have much larger populations but much lower rates of violence.

Alex Levesque (from left) shares his experience in violence prevention with Deborah Bennet from the Polk Bros. Foundation and Velvian Boswell.

Ludwig then offered a few explanations for the difference. First, he pointed to the huge disparities of wealth in the city, showing maps that display high rates of poverty on the South and West sides of the city. He then discussed the need for more police to curb the violence, an action step that L.A. and N.Y.C. took to deal with the violence of the early ‘90s. He concluded his talk with a call to action that we view the violence in the city as a crisis.

He answered several questions about his presentation, including two from the Chicago Peace Fellows, Robert Beikman, executive director of the Chicago Alternatives to Incarceration, and Jacqueline Moore, executive director of Agape Works.

Chicago Peace Fellows Pamela Butts (from left), Dawn Hodges and Jeanette Coleman with the Goldin Institute's Oz Ozburn at the March 19, 2019 event at the City Club of Chicago.

Here’s how other Chicago Peace Fellows reflected on the event:

Dawn Hodges, executive administrator of Imani Community Development Corporation: “[Jens Ludwig] really exposed the scope of Chicago's problem. We have a lot of work to do to help our city.”

Jeanette Coleman, executive director of I am My Brother’s Keeper Unity Day:

“I thoroughly enjoyed the presentation in that I am a big proponent for evidence-based practice and was intrigued by the data presented. While it is disheartening to see how violence and poverty have overtaken most of the South and West sides of Chicago, it validates the importance of our work in these communities. I would like to explore more opportunities to reinstate mental health and behavioral health therapy for youth in particular but families/individuals, in general, considering the trauma experienced from exposure to violence, witnessing homicides, children being raised by extended family or in the foster care system due to the impact of substance abuse and violence in the city. If incorporating more police into our practice would help, as was documented in New York, then let's do it! In the meantime, let's equip our families with more coping skills and opportunities to find hopeful outcomes.”

Robin Cline, associate director of Neighborspace: “The presentation was even more of a reminder of what an urgent moment Chicago is in.”

Velvian Boswell, recovery specialist at the Chicago Women’s AIDS Project: “I heard a lot of stats and research on crime and why it’s the main concern from the residents of Chicago. I’m not saying it’s not important. I just believe our black men are angry; not being able to find employment, lack of skills and education is a major problem in the community. Not being able to provide for their families, being caught up in the judicial system, drugs and a lack of economic development have plagued our community with violence. I think the question should be why is there so much crime in our community? People that are producing and feeling good about themselves and are able to provide for their families do not commit crime. I think if we address those issues, crime will not be the main concern.”

Click here to see a video of the event.

[hl bg="#02a8fc" fg="#ffffff"]Thank you to the Polk Bros. Foundation for your generous support to make it possible for the Chicago Peace Fellows to participate in this thought-provoking and informative presentation at the City Club of Chicago. [/hl] 

Learning Together with the Chicago Peace Fellows

After her son Darren was shot to death in 2012, Lisa Daniels was frustrated that media coverage focused exclusively on his criminal record. Her son made bad decisions with consequences he didn’t anticipate, but he was a loving child, father and loyal friend, and Lisa felt strongly that he should be remembered for more than just his worst mistake. She founded the Darren B. Easterling Center for Restorative Justice to help other young men and their mothers in similar situations, beginning her work by showing compassion for the young man who killed him, asking the court for leniency.

“Like each and every one of us, Darren was a flawed human being, created in God's perfect image. Without the Center, his life would have ended in a blaze of gunfire. Now it carries on in an illumination of promise, of hope, of love.” -- Lisa Daniels

The Goldin Institute recently selected Lisa and 18 other compassionate, resourceful individuals for the first cohort of Peace Fellows in partnership with the Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities. In the months ahead this groundbreaking collaboration between the Conant Family Foundation and the Goldin Institute will support neighborhood-level initiatives to build safer and more peaceful communities across the city.

On March 8, Lisa attended the launch event for the Peace Fellows at DePaul University’s downtown campus along with other grassroots leaders. Expressing her hopes and expectations for the Peace Fellows, Lisa said, “Give me all the information I need to do what I need to do.”

Another Peace Fellow, Ken Butler, executive director of the Major Adams Community Committee in the North Lawndale neighborhood, was thrilled to be sharing experiences and best practices as well as pitfalls with other practitioners.

“A lot of the time, when you’re the head of an organization, they won’t tell you it’s bunk. But I really need honest feedback to know I’m on the right track.” -- Ken Butler

Commenting on her first day meeting with the Fellows, Maria Velasquez, executive director of the Telpochcalli Community Education Project in the Little Village neighborhood, worked with other groups.  “I’m very structured, but it’s important to be flexible too,” Maria said.

John Zeigler, director of the Egan Office of Urban Education and Community Partnerships, welcomed the Peace Fellows to DePaul by defining the concept of ‘servant leaders,’ individuals who put the idea of service foremost, and adhere to principles that include empathy, healing and awareness. Grassroots leaders, however, need to work through organizations and institutions, Zeigler explained, and require empowerment as well as training to lead effectively.

“It’s not enough to train servant leaders unless you train servant structures.” -- John Zeigler

Expressing her enthusiasm for the Peace Fellows’ debut, Leslie Ramyk, executive director of the Conant Family Foundation, added that philanthropies supported grassroots leaders to identify and develop solutions to problems at the neighborhood level.

“When it comes to issues you’re facing in your communities, I’m not the expert,” Leslie said.

“This is about you telling us what’s needed. This is your time, your space. You don’t need to impress anyone, except maybe each other.” -- Leslie Ramyk

In his remarks, Goldin Institute Executive Director Travis Rejman said the Chicago Peace Fellows culminated 17 years of work around the world. In 2002, the Goldin Institute convened dozens of international grassroots leaders and chartered the organization’s mission based on their ideas, challenges and aspirations.

“You are joining a group of people who want to learn together, who are not just in Chicago but around the world. The Peace Fellows initiative is the latest expression of the mission of the Goldin Institute.” -- Travis Rejman

Each Peace Fellow received a stipend and a specially configured iPad loaded with the GATHER curriculum and integrated software. Goldin Institute senior staff created the Peace Fellows curriculum based on our 17 years of experience building the capacity of grassroots organizations around the world, and after extensive discussions with community leaders, scholars, government officials and key figures at area institutions.

The Fellows are learning cutting-edge concepts such as asset mapping and conflict resolution, conducting site visits to organizations and foundations here in Chicago, and meeting virtually with experts and other community leaders around the world. Most importantly, they are sharing their own hard-earned wisdom based on practical experience as they prepare for the summer, when they will have an opportunity to use the new techniques and concepts they’ve learned in collaborative projects that will be funded by the Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities to obviate violence and remediate its consequences.

The Peace Fellows were chosen through an intensive application and interview process drawing from the ranks of previous grantees of the Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities, a coalition of 40 foundations that are aligning their investments to support proven and promising approaches to reducing gun violence.

Special thanks to DePaul University for hosting our first in-person meeting and to the generous support from the Conant Family Foundation, Polk Bros. Foundation, Chase Bank and the Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities that makes this work possible.

Meet the 2019 Chicago Peace Fellows

The Goldin Institute invites you to learn about each of our Chicago Peace Fellows representing 14 neighborhoods across the city as they join together and establish a community of practice determined to promote peace across the city!


The Fellows are learning together through GATHER, which is both a mobile platform for shared learning and a curriculum for people who want to build on the talents of their neighbors and the assets of their communities to make real and lasting change. Gather Fellows learn and work together through an innovative curriculum that comes pre-loaded on a tablet device with all the connectivity, materials, videos, practices and tools necessary to provide a mobile classroom and toolkit for community leadership.


The Chicago Peace Fellows project will connect and equip a select group of past grantees of the Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities to reduce violence and promote peace. Chicago Peace Fellows will be the first all-Chicago cohort to utilize the GATHER platform, an online learning hub built by the Goldin Institute to empower grassroots leaders.

The participants have been selected from past grantees of the Chicago Fund. They will engage in a 14-week course of intensive shared learning as well
as group projects, culminating in a graduation event in October, 2019. The curriculum has been designed in collaboration with the grantees themselves, based on their practical knowledge and hard earned wisdom, with input from a wide range of civic leaders. Fellows will reflect on their past summer work, identify successes and lessons learned, and improve their abilities by sharing strengths and learning new skills.

The Goldin Institute and the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities have aligned missions that value authentic community leadership. The Chicago Fund is uniquely effective at finding motivated problem-solvers and community-builders. By connecting Chicago leaders through GATHER, their efforts to nurture safer and more peaceful communities will be more effective, interconnected and lasting.

To follow along the learning journey with the Gather Fellows, please sign up for our newsletter and follow up on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

If you would like to apply for the next cohort of Gather Fellows, please visit

A special thanks to the Conant Family Foundation, JP Morgan Chase, the Polk Bros. Foundation, and the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities for making this program possible.

Chicago Peace Fellows Take Shape

The Goldin Institute recently brought together community leaders with key figures at a range of Chicago area civic institutions to gear up for the Chicago Peace Fellows, a joint initiative with the Conant Family Foundation and other philanthropies that will be the first domestic application of the GATHER curriculum and software, our tablet-based, capacity-building program for grassroots community leaders.

After yet another year where violence shattered too many of Chicago’s families, some of the city’s best minds talked over two dinners in December and January how technology, policy and communication can all be tools to empower those who are on the front lines of trying to mitigate, obviate and devise alternatives to terminate the violence. These civic leaders are helping to inform the curriculum that is based on the insights and aspirations of community leaders at the forefront of violence prevention in the city.

(from left) Daniel Cooper from the Metropolitan Planning Council, Oz Ozburn of the Goldin Institute, Craig Futterman of the Civil Rights and Police Accountability project at the University of Chicago Law School and Nedra Sims from the Greater Chatham Initiative.
In coming weeks, the Goldin Institute will begin an intensive recruitment and application process to select the first class of Peace Fellows who will all be drawn from the grantees of the Chicago Fund for Safe & Peaceful Communities, a special grant opportunity which has drawn together the largest and most prestigious philanthropies in the city.

At the first dinner, Justice Stamps, who runs the Marion Nzinga Stamps Youth Center mentoring program on the Near North Side, expressed concerns about the general relationship in Chicago between community organizations and philanthropies, warning that current strategies were often “a band aid to a much greater problem.”

The voices of youths and young adults who are both the victims and perpetrators of violence are not included sufficiently in conversations about how grants are allocated, she elaborated. While many grants are won by small, grassroots operations, the dollar amounts are modest and these groups remain desperate for financial support. On the other hand, large, well-established non-profit organizations have a significant competitive advantage.

[quote]"We need the funders to get away from cookie cutter funding.  We're going to do a block party in August and they are going to get killed in January."  - Justice Stamps [/quote]

To remedy these issues, Justice suggested that an umbrella organization provide infrastructure and support to the “people doing the trench work.”

Travis Rejman (from left) and Gabe Gonzalez listen to Eddie Bocanegra, Executive Director of Heartland Alliance's READI program.
Dan Lurie, senior fellow and director of the Chicago office of the New America Foundation, agreed with Justice about the need to support grassroots operations, adding that while the dollar amounts of grants awarded under the Safe & Peaceful Communities Fund were too small to dramatically reduce the level of violence in the city, a strategic approach could leverage government agencies, in particular, to play a larger role.

[quote]"There needs to be new money, but is there a way to disrupt philanthropy with this kind of fund? A lot of funders would welcome being disrupted.” - Dan Lurie[/quote]

Jose Rico, a political activist and aldermanic candidate, pointed out that the enormous sums spent on criminal justice and incarceration dwarf the amounts spent on education, prevention and alternative activities.

[quote]“We know we are not getting the outcomes we are hoping for.” - Jose Rico[/quote]

Robin Robinson, a longtime Chicago television news anchor who is currently a special adviser to Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, added that race and racism must be included in discussions of how to stop the violence in the city.

[quote]“There is a way to talk about race that doesn’t make everyone cringe back." - Robin Robinson[/quote]

At the second dinner in January, participants discussed the role hospitals and research institutions could play as well as how the collateral effects of violence radiate throughout the community.

Daniel Cooper, author of The War on Neighborhoods: Policing, Prison, and Punishment in a Divided City and Director of Research at the Metropolitan Planning Council said that while good research was essential, it had to be shared with the communities who were being researched: “With that data, there is a great deal of responsibility to use it to be uplifting to community members and to be as transparent as possible.

[quote]“We have to make sure we are turning back the power of data to the community organizations that worked with us." - Daniel Cooper [/quote]

Leif Elsmo, executive director of Community and External Affairs at the University of Chicago Hospitals, discussed his institution’s recent experience with opening a trauma center, noting that they had discovered that the emergency room was an opportune location for intervention.

[quote]“People who come into the hospital with gunshot wounds are more likely to be hurt again or to hurt someone themselves." - Leif Elsmo

Ghian Foreman of the Washington Park LLC described the effects of a six-week basketball tournament he organized in the Harold Ickes Homes public housing development more than a decade ago, citing it as an example of the types of programs that can be effective: “It was only 6 weeks, but those 6 weeks were six weeks of peace.”

Nedra Sims Fears, executive director of the Greater Chatham Initiative, noted that the financial burdens of the criminal justice system fall disproportionately on the women who live in the same communities where incidents of crime and violence are highest. She described a neighbor who mortgaged her home to pay for a lawyer representing her son in a criminal case and then explained how her own family spent thousands of dollars to house a nephew who had been released from prison.

[quote]“Black women are the ones paying for this missing generation of Black men. We pay for their absence, for their lost wages, for their criminal defense, and for the revolving door of the justice system. These are not statistics. These are people we know, in our families. This is real. - Nedra Sims Fears [/quote]

Eddie Bocanegra, a senior director at the Heartland Alliance who was both the perpetrator and victim of violence and was incarcerated, said that he grew up in the Little Village neighborhood during the years Chicago suffered more than 1,000 homicides each year, but had a close, loving family who welcomed him back into the fold when he completed his term in the penitentiary.

[quote]“My family was my infrastructure that I could tap into when I got back. Today, what’s it going to take for young people for young people to stop for the amount to think about the direction they are going? Part of it is therapy but mostly it is just relationships.- Eddie Bocanegra [/quote]