Thursday, May 17, 2012

The SOS Crown Heights Arts to End Violence Festival Kicks Off This Weekend

If you don't know about the fantastic work of Save Our Streets Crown Heights (profiled in USA Today this week), make some time to check out their Arts to End Violence Festival in the next week. The fun kicks off on Saturday with a block party on Kingston Avenue all afternoon, and continues with pop up displays, gallery openings, and film screenings all throughout next week. All of the events are free and open to the public, and offer an opportunity to learn more about how SOS Crown Heights has reduced violent crime in our community by employing the CeaseFire model (made famous in the film "The Interrupters," which SOS and the CHCA screened last weekend). If you do get a chance to meet any of SOS's violence interrupters, thank them: they brave some of the most volatile situations on NYC's streets in an effort not just to respond to violence, but to break the cycle that perpetuates it. 

Also, as mentioned at yesterday's CHCA meeting, SOS Crown Heights and their parent organization, the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center, are putting together an internship program for local youth this summer, and they are looking for internship opportunities at a wide range of companies and institutions. If your employer could use a talented, pre-screened, pre-interviewed, and enthusiastic youth intern this summer, get in touch with them ASAP. Funding requests have gone out, so these positions need not be paid, but they would hopefully involved regular duties and responsibilities, and not just the odds-and-ends busy work that some internships can become. 

The complete release for this coming week from SOS Crown Heights:

An initiative of Save Our Streets Crown Heights (S.O.S.), Arts to End Violence is a festival and contest that brings together some of the many artistic expressions of peace in our neighborhood and beyond in order to spread the message of nonviolence. Over 40 pieces of art, submitted by young and old, professional and novice, explore topics including the cyclical nature of violence, media and stereotyping, gang culture, and ultimately a shared vision and hope for peace in our streets. The result is a collection of art that works to unravel the dangerous web that produces and perpetuates gun violence in our neighborhood.  During the Arts to End Violence festival week, and throughout the summer, this art will be displayed publicly in Crown Heights in order to stimulate conversations about nonviolence and community building and to demonstrate the creativity and the beauty that thrives in the Crown Heights neighborhoods.

Save Our Streets Crown Heights' (S.O.S.) mission is to reduce gun violence in Crown Heights. The S.O.S. outreach team de-escalates confrontations on the spot in the streets and mediates disputes among groups and individuals before they erupt in violence. When a shooting incident occurs, S.O.S. outreach workers respond immediately to reduce the likelihood of retaliatory violence and, within 72 hours, organize a street response by neighborhood residents to demonstrate their rejection of violence. Outreach workers also counsel and mentor a caseload of young men and women who are assessed to be at high risk for involvement in gun violence. S.O.S. organizes community events that bring residents, merchants, clergy, and institutional leaders together to strengthen the sense of community in Crown Heights. At the end of 2011, shootings were down 38% from the previous year in our target area. 

For more info on S.O.S. and Arts to End Violence, please call our office at 718-773-6886 or see our websites at or

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