WURD Radio is committed to using our platform to discuss the outbreak of violence happening in our communities and will dedicate this week to exploring solutions. Our hosts have listened to the community and to callers to come up with the following list of solutions to explore. We will continue to discuss these issues and partner with groups who are working to ensure impactful outcomes.
Policy & Government Solutions
Conduct an investigation to find out how people are getting guns. The outbreak of violence and death is specific to gun violence. These are not street brawls or stabbings. Find out how guns are getting into the hands of the people committing the crimes.
Stop offering local government/city contracts to out-of-state and out-of-city companies. Develop local workers for these jobs and offer our local construction companies and land developers more city contracts. This will redirect millions of dollars back into our local job ecosystem. This is a major problem happening right under our noses and no one is protesting this problem. Protest until more of our city’s contracts are offered to local companies.
Stop gentrifying communities and displacing people from their homes. All urban development should be equitable development that includes a plan for long-time community members to stay in their homes and benefit from the structural enhancements.
Access to good, whole, quality food is paramount— there are really good ideas happening in other major cities that are creating creative access to good food. See: Erika Allen and the Urban Growers Collective in Chicago. They have converted buses into rolling fresh produce markets from her local urban farm. https://urbangrowerscollective.org/fresh-moves-mobile-market/
Engage committee people and reinstate block captains. Empower them with spaces to hold community meetings and listen to the needs and concerns of people on each block. Work with community members to address grievances early on.
Violence is an Environmental Problem – Improve and Fix Philly’s Unhealthy Environment. Dramatically improve Philly’s environment: reduce air pollution, reduce urban heat islands, plant more trees, clean up the trash. Studies show direct links between bad air quality, bad water quality, bad environment and violence/crime. Just planting more trees in distressed neighborhoods and creating more shade through “tree canopies” reduces violent crime by 12 percent – yes, 12 percent. Philly needs a revolutionary citywide, all-hands on deck anti-trash effort. That’s low-hanging fruit. Trashier, nastier neighborhoods means more violent neighborhoods. Increased lead in water levels increase violent crime; so, what’s Philly doing about that. Here’s a piece on tree canopies, an easy, low-cost solution that can get your crime down by 12 percent: https://thephiladelphiacitizen.org/more-trees-less-crime/
Support for programs that Beautify/ make useful unused land in Blighted areas and vacant lots become dedicated meditative/reflective spaces and/ or fruit tree groves and/or year round farms.see: Ron Finley https://www.ted.com/talks/ron_finley_a_guerilla_gardener_in_south_central_la?language=en
End Food Insecurity in Philly. Food insecurity rates in Philly are higher than the national average. The geography of that matches the geography of gun violence. Neighborhoods with the highest food insecurity rates are also neighborhoods with the highest gun violence/homicide rates. https://thephiladelphiacitizen.org/reality-check-violent-areas-are-hungry-areas/
Philly Needs a New Deal. Eliminate poverty, high rates of unemployment and low labor force participation rates, particularly among Black men. City, state and regional leaders should look into 1. fundamentally adjusting the economy to spur employment, 2. aggressively create Black businesses (that would hire Black people) and 3. consider a sliding scale Universal Basic Income program in the region.
End Jim Crow in Philly – For Both Homeowners and Renters. Philly has an affordable housing and “affordable living” crisis that’s causing unnecessary distress and displacement. End it. https://thephiladelphiacitizen.org/reality-check-is-this-a-philly-jim-crow-moment/
Force Investments from Eds and Meds. Pressing Philly’s famed and lucrative “Eds & Meds” community to make major community investments. The combined endowments of top-tier universities inside Philly limits is over $16 billion – on avg, they only use 4-5% of it. https://thephiladelphiacitizen.org/reality-check-lets-bail-out-ccp/ and https://thephiladelphiacitizen.org/reality-check-raise-the-rates/
Philly’s Homicide Clearance Rate Sucks – Fix It. The national homicide clearance rate – # of homicides solved – is 60%. Philly’s? Only 40%. The PPD needs to fix that immediately. More here: https://thephiladelphiacitizen.org/guest-commentary-whos-the-culprit-for-phillys-murder-rate/
Dramatically Increase Voter Turnout (& Lower the Voting Age to 16). While At It. Lack of effort and results from City Hall and Harrisburg is also due to lack of effort from voters – Philly doesn’t really turn out for local elections. There are no real electoral consequences for city leaders when they don’t act effectively on issues like gun violence. Make these issues an electoral existential threat to the city’s political machine. Voter participation and turnout is the lowest in the areas with the highest gun violence. Reverse that. Make it a key issue in the next set of local elections, get people registered, increase the turnout from an avg. 25% to no less than 70%.
Hold Police Officers Accountable – When you have people policing you, who hate you, it definitely impacts the conversation on violence.
Community & Cultural Solutions
Restore Home Life and Family – Restoring homes and families and going back to dinner conversations somehow. A lot of individuals feel numb to love and have an insatiable desire to protect their reputation or group bonding they have formed with other people who have that same feeling of “numb to love.”
Make Cultural Education A Priority – When you have knowledge about your people, your culture, and where you come from…you gain self worth, you gain respect for yourself and the community, and you have love for yourself. When you love yourself and you love your people, it’s a little harder to be out here killing one another.
Host Symposiums or Focus Groups – These groups encourage intergenerational dialogue to enhance compassion and understanding. Continuing conversations about peace making efforts across cultures, neighborhoods and demographics.
Destigmatizing Mental Illness / Mental Health Support – As a community, we need to create more spaces to talk about mental illness, mental health support, and how to cope with not only the internal challenges people have but the toxic state of politics and socioeconomic conditions for many Philadelphians. We need to offer more resources that are free or discounted so that people can identify their mental illnesses and needs for support.
Re-imagining & Finally Fixing Philly’s Broken School System – Let’s stop acting like we magically fixed Philly’s school system when the city took it back from the state. Transform students into “scholars,” transition from K-12 and partner up with local universities for universal K-14, place a heavy emphasis on the trades – with special emphasis on benefiting from the “green economy” – , increase Black teachers, and link teacher/administrator pay to Black student outcomes, and reboot/revive the libraries.
Teach Conflict Resolution in Schools – Youth and parents need to be equipped with tools to deal with conflict and discuss the effects of stress from acts of violence. Offer mentorship programs that uplift relationship building and provide outlets for conflict resolution.
Centering intuitives, shamans, and vibrational healers for regular community vision and meditation sessions – Possibilities include sound healing in local parks, “stop drop and meditate”, new/full moon sister circles… See: The Four Insights by Dr. Alberto Villoldo
Creating an affirmation prayer/meditation community “guard”—folk who are dedicated to raise the vibration and holding the space of LOVE for communities and people considered “hot spots” for violence. Women in white… See: Agape International Spiritual Center Spiritual Practitioners
Creating healing arts/ meditation centers to offer free or low cost – vibrational healing services like Reiki, sound healing, crystal healing and massage. And dedicated community centered daily meditation in a dedicated place and time.
Hold regular town hall style vision sessions – People can come to gain insight on their higher purpose for their/community/state/country etc. See: Life Visioning program by Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith https://www.newthought.org/images/speer_visioning_handout.pdf
A mass smudging aka Palo Santo – Sage bonfires to “smoke out” low vibes like they do for Pow Wows (I’m only kind of joking) 🤪 See: https://www.thesacredscience.com/the-art-of-smudging/