Wednesday, December 21, 2011

YO S.O.S. On News 12 Brooklyn

Please check out this video from News 12 Brooklyn about the Kingston Winter Windows Project that we recently completed on Kingston Avenue in Crown Heights.  Three of the YO S.O.S. Youth Organizers spoke on camera about what the project meant to them. Plus our Program Coordinator, Marlon Peterson, spoke about the connection between beautifying the community and ending gun violence. 

We are proud to represent YO S.O.S., ourselves and our communities in saying NO TO GUN VIOLENCE AND YES TO PEACE.

We wish you and your loved ones a happy and safe holiday season. 

SPREAD PEACE!

To read more about the project from News 12 and to see the video click HERE.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Kingston Winter Windows Kicks Off In Crown Heights

The Youth Organizers of YO S.O.S will unveil their “Kingston Winter Windows” tonight. With support from the Kingston Avenue Merchants Association (KAMA) festive storefronts have been designed and decorated by individuals ages 14 – 17 in an effort to beautify the commercial district and promote peace.

The youth organizers and merchants will convene at the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center at 430 PM, where they will distribute maps for a walking tour of the storefronts. The theme of the storefronts is “Peace in Crown Heights.” Following the tour, the group will gather with friends and family to celebrate their accomplishments and enjoy seasonal treats provided by KAMA.


DATE:             Monday, December 19th 

TIME:              4:30 PM                                             

PLACE:          Crown Heights Community Mediation Center
                        256 Kingston Avenue  
Brooklyn, NY 11213-3435

Storefronts: 
  • E & S Dry Cleaners 105 Kingston Ave.
  • Arthurine's West Indian 115 Kingston Ave.
  • MS Design & Assoc. 131 Kingston Ave.
  • Crown Heights Development Corp. 254 Kingston Ave.
  • Crown Heights Community Mediation Center 256 Kingston Ave.
  • Kingston Pharmacy 1106 St. Johns Place
  • Basil 270 Kingston Ave.
Celebration: YOasis  
221 Kingston Avenue
(Third floor of Church)

Kingston Winter Windows is a co-production of the Kingston Avenue Merchants Association (KAMA) and YoSOS (Youth Organizing to Save Our Streets). KAMA, with support from the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce’s Neighborhood Entrepreneurship Project (NEP), aims to assist merchants in accessing resources to grow their businesses and support a thriving business community. YoSOS is a youth development program that aims to empower young people to become community leaders and organizers.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Check out this video and article by NYC in Focus about Youth Organizing to Save Our Streets (YO S.O.S.), Save Our Streets Crown Heights (S.O.S.) and the YO S.O.S. Program Coordinator, Marlon Peterson. Keep your eyes peeled for wonderful pictures of the Youth Organizers in action during their workshops and during the Save Our Streets Peace March!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Amy on YO S.O.S.





My experiecnes at YOSOS have helped me to grow mentally and they have opened my eyes to things that i previously knew little about. From lobbying in Washington D.C to simple neighborhood peace marches, YOSOS has taken myself and other youth organizers on a journey we will never forget. This program has made me feel that i can be something bigger than myself. I feel that my creativity, writing and simple social skills can have a bigger impact on the people around me. Though i have moved away from my YOSOS family, i fully intend on continuing everything they have taught me and spreading the word to many more people around me and possibly around the world. As well as teaching us serious organizing skills, YOSOS has also helped me to bulid a close group of friends who support me and each other in all their youth organinzing ideas. If i could do it all again, there's nothing i would change, it's all worth it  and the all the hard work pays for itself. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Youth Expression of PEACE

Save Our Streets Crown Heights is organizing a Week of Peace to celebrate the Crown Heights Community and continue to stand together in saying that shootings and killings are unacceptable. 

YO S.O.S. is mobilizing in full force! 

We are organizing a Youth anti-violence FLASH MOB as our part of the Week of Peace.

We are gathering tons of high school students from all over New York City to participate in a huge secret flash mob!

Interested?
password: yosos

for all the details!


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Welcome Patsy!



Welcome to YO S.O.S.! My name is Patsy Foley, and I am a student working towards a Master’s degree in Social Work. I am new to the Crown Heights neighborhood, and truly respect the mission of nonviolence within SOS Crown Heights and YO S.O.S.
I am eager to get involved with YO S.O.S. as I believe that our youth have the power, determination and imagination to make significant impacts on society. I grew up in Boston attending public schools. Throughout my life I witnessed intelligent and talented friends become involved in violence, drug use and eventually the criminal justice system. In a more positive light, I was also exposed to friends who were able to surround themselves with constructive programs such as Artists for Humanity and Citizen’s Schools. Many of my friends in high school were able to take on leadership roles in clubs such as Spoken Word, Amnesty International and other important cultural awareness clubs. In getting involved we were able to escape the harsh grips of violence and crime together. Throughout high school and eventually into higher education my peer group continues to remain invested in our community and the practice of nonviolence.
During my undergraduate studies, I worked at two agencies in Rhode Island. The first being a juvenile corrections facility, and the second being a school for students with severe social, emotional and behavioral challenges. At these placements I worked clinically with youth who by the tender ages of 12-18 had already experienced some of the harshest realities of life having been caught in a persistent cycle of violence. With the proper support system I truly believe that there can be progress. We can learn from and with one another to promote a safer way of life. I am dedicated to reducing violence in cities such as Crown Heights. I am truly honored to be a member of this organization and am looking forward to meeting this year’s group of change markers, organizers, and leaders.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Unity for Brower Park




On Wednesday, September 28th, S.O.S. and community members gathered together at Brower Park (right across the street from YOAsis) and created a human chain of hands encircling the park as a gesture of community, unity and care. Ife Charles, Reverend Kevin Jones, and Phil Hawkins from Friends of Brower Park spoke and Senator Eric Adams attended spoke about the importance of Brower Park to the community and as a safe space for all residents. Senator Eric Adams wrote about the event in his weekly newsletter. Residents also wrote down a few words to express what Brower Park means the community. See a few examples below.

What does Brower Park mean to me?

Enjoyment, conversation
Walking
A safe place for all
Peace, Loving Sharing
A great place with kids. We have to keep it together.
Family come together.
Kids have a place to go.
A beautiful piece of green in the midst of limestone brick and brownstone
A safe, fun, beautiful place to bring my dogs
A place where my children can play and grow up
A place to connect to the earth/ a respite from the concrete jungle
People that live near one another- coming together in one spot often
Family Unity/Fellowship

What does Brower mean to this community?

Congregation
Relaxation
Unity
A Jewel
Beauty
Life, Energy, Renewal and Vegetation
Have fun all day!
Peace, Joy, Happiness
Serenity, Community, a place to regroup with nature, human, et al.
Love, Peace, Joy Friendship

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

YO S.O.S. Updates!

Here are some updates from our facebook page about the past week in YO S.O.S. workshops


September 30th 2011-- Wow! We had a fantastic orientation with a wonderful group of new and returning Youth Organizers today. These young people are leaders already and are so excited to fine tune their skills, make powerful change in their communities and eradicate violence. What an impressive group. Power to the youth!



Monday October 3rd 2011-- ‎16 and 17 year olds meet today at 4:30. We will go over our community contract and begin our workshops on time management. Can't wait to see you today!



Wednesday Ooctober 5th 2011 -- Yesterday we had a great work shop with the 14 and 15 year olds talking about ourselves, how we spend our time and what our priorities are. Today we will begin talking about Crown Heights history and future with the 16 and 17 year olds!


Monday October 17th 2011 -- The YO S.O.S. Flash Mob went down. Check it out on youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKZvqCY1SN0

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Video from Man Up! Inc.

Please enjoy an excellent video that explores the choices and consequences of gun violence by our partner program Man Up! Inc.


For more information on Man Up! Inc. click here

Response to Violence: Today, September 8th, at 6:00 PM at the Corner of Franklin and Park

S.O.S is teaming up with the Crow Hill Community Association, Council Member Letitia James, the 77th Precinct Community Council,  and local elected officials to respond to the violence that occured throughout Crown Heights over Labor Day Weekend. The event will take place at Franklin Avenue and Park Place, where two people were shot and killed in a shooting on Monday evening. 


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Violence over Labor Day Weekend


“Please have a SAFE Labor Day weekend. Too many times we hear of negative and traumatic incidences over this weekend in Brooklyn. We've already had unacceptable violence occur in Brownsville earlier this week. We ask that you all understand that the safety of our community, particularly our youngest people, is so important to our future. This Labor Day weekend let's put the "NEIGHBOR" back into NEIGHBOR-HOOD.”

We posted this on FaceBook Friday afternoon before the Labor Day weekend fully began; therefore, it hurts that there were a record 48 shooting incidents in NYC over the weekend. In fact, there were 24 shootings in 24 HOURS! It doesn’t make sense. Rather than write a long reaction to what we all know is reprehensible violence, I prefer to ask a few questions. Answer them… react to them in whatever way you deem possible.
What were the lives of the shooting victims like?

What were and are the lives of the shooters like?
What are the name of the children that witnessed these shootings and murders?
Who or what is to blame for the violence?
What can I do to remain safe?
What can I do to bring the NEIGHBOR back into neighbor-HOOD?

STOP SHOOTING. START LIVING.

Read more about the Violence over the Labor Day weekend at:
http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/local/new_york&id=8342188


Check back with us for the S.O.S. and YO S.O.S. community repsonses to the recent events. We hope you will join us...with your reactions to the aforementioned questions.

Now Accepting Applications!



We are now accepting applications for our 2011-2012 group.

If you are 14-17 years old and are interested in becoming a youth organizer around issues of violence in your community YO S.O.S. is for you! Click here to download the application! 

Check out our photos and our facebook page to see some of the great work we did last year. 

We have tons of new trips planned for this year.  Fill out an application today!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

S.O.S. and The Interrupters Movie on the New York Times CityRoom Blog



Save our Streets Crown Heights (YO S.O.S.'s older sibling) was written up in City Room in The New York Times. The article is copied below.  You can also find it here.

Interrupting Violence, on Screen and on the Streets

By TIM STELLOH

The men in orange and white Save Our Streets T-shirts were in a good mood.
It was Friday night, and “The Interrupters,” a new documentary that depicts the front lines of urban crime in Chicago and an anti-violence program trying to stem those battles, had just premiered at the IFC Center in Manhattan.
For the men in orange and white, watching the sold-out two-hour film was like a seeing a reflection — and confirmation — of their day-to-day work lives. In some of the movie’s more dramatic scenes, a woman working for the program, called CeaseFire, inserts herself into the middle of a knife brawl and also calms a gathering mob seeking revenge for the killing of a friend.
In other words, she accomplished one of CeaseFire’s goals: to “interrupt” violence. 
The men who attended the movie interrupt such violence, too, in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, through Save Our Streets, or S.O.S., a program modeled after CeaseFire. And they, too, often find themselves in the middle of the same raw dramas that was depicted on the screen.
“We see someone else doing the work that we’re doing, and it’s just like us being up there, word for word,” said Rudy Suggs, 48, who, along with several other S.O.S. workers, gathered at a McDonald’s across the street from the theater after the movie to compare their own experiences with what they had seen.
There were plenty of similarities, the men said.

In one scene, for instance, one of the film’s main characters, Ameena Matthews, visits an area where a teenager has been shot and killed. A large group of the man’s friends have gathered on the street and appear to be planning a counterattack. In typical fashion, Ms. Matthews, a former gang member and daughter of Jeff Fort, one of Chicago’s most legendary gang leaders, bursts into the middle of the crowd and defuses the situation.

Achisimach Yisrael, 35, of S.O.S. recalled that after a 14-year-old was killed this summer in Crown Heights, more than 100 of the teenager’s friends gathered at his wake.

“Seeing him laying there — that was real life for them,” Mr. Yisrael said, adding that a large group then left the church to confront those who they believed were responsible for the teenager’s death.
“Every last one of them had every intention of retaliating and basically creating a bloodbath,” he said.
From their storefront office on Kingston Avenue, S.O.S. workers saw the throng marching by. After quickly determining where the group was going, several workers were dispatched to the intended target; another squad headed to a nearby park, where a worker persuaded the dead teenager’s friends to congregate.

With a large, volatile crowd gathered around them, four workers undertook what was perhaps their most tense, most expansive mediation to date, said Lavon Walker, who works for S.O.S: They told the group that they needed to respect the dead teenager’s mother and family; that killing someone else would not bring their friend back.

“Then we called out and said, ‘Is there anybody in the crowd who is a father?’ ” Mr. Yisrael recalled. “Do you want to remove yourself from your children?”

In the end, the crowd returned to the wake, Mr. Walker said. This was one of the 54 conflicts the group has interrupted since early last year, when the program began, said Amy Ellenbogen, S.O.S.’s director.
Another echo of the group’s work was reflected in one of the film’s most memorable characters — the lanky, alternately hilarious and explosive Flamo, a pistol-carrying, self-described drug dealer and gambler whom a CeaseFire worker is attempting to deliver from a life of crime and prison (the program often tries to help former gang members and others to turn their lives around).

Flamo eventually comes around — he describes the worker as a fly constantly buzzing in his ear — and by the end of the film, he is gainfully employed.

Flamo reminded Mr. Walker of Sledge, who had long been a powerful, but unpredictable force on the streets of Crown Heights.

“He was a loose cannon,” Mr. Walker said. “He wasn’t hearing nothing from nobody, because that was the power that he had.”

Last year, Mr. Walker undertook a task similar to the worker in the film: to show Sledge that a different kind of life was possible. After a short time, Sledge had begun volunteering for S.O.S. and is now a staff member of the group.

“To have a person like Sledge, which is our New York City Flamo, turned over and to be working with S.O.S., that’s a great testimony that the work we’re doing is effective,” Mr. Walker said.
“We’re the fly,” Mr. Suggs added. “We’re those nagging individuals.”

If you would like to be involved start here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Please join us tomorrow.

On Monday, July 25, 2011, there was another death to violence.  Unfortunately a young man was found stabbed to death in the stairwell of a building within our catchment area.

We cannot stop shootings and killings without help from the whole community. Stand with SOS Crown Heights and the clergy to send the message opposing violence! Please join us: The response is scheduled for Thursday, July 28th, 2011 at 6 p.m. in front of 1400 Albany.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

YO S.O.S./Crown Heights Community Mediation Center looking for AmeriCorps members this fall!


2010-2011 New York Juvenile Justice Corps members


The Mediation Center will be enlisting two Americorps volunteers to join the CHCMC, S.O.S., and YO S.O.S. teams beginning October 1st. Americorps is a national service program in which corps members commit to a year of service in exchange for a small monthly stipend and an education award following their year of service. Members at the Mediation Center will be part of the New York Juvenile Justice Corps, run out of the Red Hook Community Justice Center. We hope to fill the following positions:

YO S.O.S. Program Assistant (full time) - This person will help with all aspects of the Youth Organizing to Save Our Streets (YO S.O.S.) program, including: co-facilitating workshops, building relationships with potential youth employers, assisting with program events, planning a guest lecture series, and soliciting donations for tickets to family friendly events.

S.O.S. Program Assistant (full time) - This person will assist the Save Our Streets program manager with finding community resources and events, distributing public education materials, and providing assistance to those individuals at the highest risk of being involved in gun violence.

Full-time members must serve 1700 hours to finish their year of service (about 35 hours/week). Minimum-time members must serve 300 hours. To qualify for Americorps, applicants must be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma or GED, and be a U.S. citizen, national, or legal permanent resident. The ideal candidate for all positions will have a passion for nonviolence, positive youth development, and community engagement!

We expect to post full job descriptions and application instructions by the end of the month. Check back often.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Let's Clean Kingston Ave

Please join us this Friday and Saturday the 17th and 18th as we help clean Kingston!

The Mediation Center in the news!

At the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center, we are lucky to benefit from having Micah Weiss, a participant in AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps, as a member of our staff. Check out this great article in the New York Times Blog "The Local" this morning.

Also today, check out this article in the Daily News highlighting the Mediation Center's fellow Center for Court Innovation project, Bronx Community Solutions', Re-Entry Working Group, and a very special staff member, Ramon Semorile.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

S.O.S. Shooting Response Tomorrow

Last night a youth was shot and killed on Park Place near Troy Avenue. This is the second tragic shooting this week. It is critical that we work together to keep our summer safe for everyone.  Come out tomorrow, Friday, June 3rd at 6pm for a S.O.S. shooting response at Park Place and Troy Ave. Help S.O.S. continue their work to end shootings and killings in our community.

Youth Justice Board Event

Survey finds Neighborhood Grappling With "Serious Issues," Like Guns


Come to the Youth Justice Board's Youth Roundtable discussion TONIGHT to learn about how these issues affect teens in the community. The presentation is at 5 PM at the Stone Branch Library, 581 Mother Gaston Blvd in Brownsville.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Art To End The Violence


Please join us for the culminating event for the S.O.S. Multimedia Contest. The contest engaged talented youth and adult artists to create public service announcements, video and radio shorts, and posters for our public education campaign that convey the message that shooting and killing are not acceptable in Crown Heights.

At the event, winners of the contest will be announced and awarded their prizes. Additionally, S.O.S. will be awarded the coveted Martin Luther King Jr. Award from the Fellowship of Reconciliation, one of the oldest and most storied civil rights organizations.

Light refreshments will be served and entertainment will feature DJ M Dot.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Trip to Washington D.C.


The whole group at the end of a full and great day!

YO S.O.S. traveled to Washington D.C. on Tuesday May 17, 2011 to speak to various congressmen and congresswomen about issues of violence affecting our communities. The trip was a great experience for all of us.  We got the opportunity to see the historic city of D.C. and the modernized contents that lie within its almost ancient buildings. For me, visiting Washington for this purpose was an educational experience because most of us had never been there before and most of us had never gone lobbying to talk about serious issues with congress.  The fun in visiting D.C. was probably being with such funny people.  We had a lot of laughs and jokes and a really good time.

-Amy Lothian, Youth Organizer  

Amy preparing to speak with Congress.

The trip was sponsored by our community partners AFSC and NYAGV.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

PSA In A Day!

YO S.O.S. traveled to Manhattan Neighborhood Network last Tuesday to film a "PSA in a Day."  The facilitators at MNN Youth Channel led a two hour workshop on what is a PSA (public service announcement) and how to make one of our own.  We got a tour of the studios and saw what a wonderful resource MNN is for young people in New York City.  If you are interested in media and are under 25 years old, MNN might be for you! Their website says, "The Youth Channel is... an alternative to mass media, providing equal access to all young people, regardless of ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation or social status. The Youth Channel empowers young people to see themselves as participants of media and not just consumers by placing strong emphasis on media education, media production and youth media distribution. "

We had so much fun filming our PSAs and on our way home we got to pose for a picture in Columbus Circle.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Harlem Youth Court is Now Accepting Applications!

Are you interested in learning about the law?
Do you want to help other teens?
Do you like working with other teens?
Are you looking for a paid internship?
Then Harlem Youth Court is looking for YOU!

Being a Harlem Youth Court member is a very exciting experience. Members are trained in I penal code, development of sound arguments, precision questioning, and they learn how to carry out various roles of the court: jury member, jury foreperson, youth and community advocate, and judge.
What you will gain as a Youth Court Member….

  • Help other teens and give back to your community
  • Receive training in I penal code, sound arguments, and precision questioning
  • Participation can count as community service hours
  • Youth Court looks GREAT on college, scholarships, and job application
  • Learn how the judicial process work
  • Improve your public speaking skills
  • Learn how to carry out various roles of the court: jury member, jury foreperson, youth and community advocate, and judge.
Members earn stipends for serving on the youth court!

If you want to apply…
-You must be 14-18 years old by June 30, 2011. 
-If you are under 18 years old, you will need your parent or guardian’s permission to join.
-You must be able to attend hearings every Monday and Wednesday from 4:30 -7pm during the school year.

Click here for more information! 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Message From Our High School Intern - Elliot Juarez


My name is Elliot and I am a 17-year old intern from International High School of Prospect Heights. For the past few weeks, I have been spending my Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons working with YO S.O.S. at the Crown Heights Mediation Center. I have learned a lot about the program so far and am really happy to being working with them.
I think violence is a serious issue. YO S.O.S. is a program that brings young people together to help stop the shootings in the community. And along the way, the program helps students develop leadership skills that will guide their path to the professional world. As an intern, I am learning a lot of leadership skills that i will use for the benefit of my own in the future.
                I am from Sunset Park, Brooklyn – another neighborhood where a lot of violence happens. I believe that violence is not the best way to solve conflicts. I think more programs like YO S.O.S. should expand through the city. People in the community are willing to help to make a difference, but they need support.  YO S.O.S. creates an opportunity for people to spread the message of anti-violence and make an impact in their community. Together, we can make a change.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Apply for YJB

Check out this great youth program!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Support Safe Hallway Day!



The Coro Youth Ambassadors of The High School for Public Service would like to invite you to Safe Hallway Day!
  
Wingate Campus 600 Kingston Ave on Tuesday May 3, 2011
  
2:30 - 3:15pm
High School for Public Service
Conference Room
  
Youth Ambassadors will formally present their policy recommendations for creating and maintaining Safe Hallways for NYC public schools to supporting politicians and advocates.
  
3:15- 4:00pm
South Lawn of Wingate Campus
at Kingston and Winthrop
A brief public program will be attended by students and community members.  Supporting politicians and advocates will have an opportunity to speak.  all attendees will end the event with the symbolic action of forming a human chain of support across the distance from the school to the 2/5 train station at the corner of Winthrop St. and Nostrand Ave.
  
Press is Invited.
  
Kindly RSVP to Coro Exploring Leadership Director Kate Sprouse by Wednesday April 27, 2011
ksprouse@coronewyork.org 917-379-7597 ext 326

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Hi! I'm Ruby-Beth...

My name is Ruby-Beth and I am the Case Manager for Y.O. S.O.S.

I am coming to this role with excitement because I believe in the power of young people and young people's voices to make changes in their neighborhoods and in the world.  I think the idea of a youth led anti-violence movement is something that every community dealing with violence and community harm could benefit from.

I grew up in a faith-based community dedicated to non-violence and anti-violence activism. In the past I have worked one on one with youth participants acting as an advocate within organizations and their surrounding communities.  Through my work with young people I gained a deep understanding for the need for youth-driven organizations. 
One of the common conversations I have had with my neighbors with regards to the health of the neighborhood is the existence of gun violence and the presence of continued harm.  Since last spring when I moved to Crown Heights I have been struck by how deeply people love Crown Heights and their desire to continue to preserve the neighborhood as a positive center for community power and stewardship. 
I grew up in a community that taught me a lot about non-violence and how to be an active non-violent citizen even when encountering potentially violent situations.  I am from Atlanta, GA and I grew up about a 5 minute drive from the home that Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. grew up in.  I took many school field trips to his home, the Church he preached in and the streets he marched.  I learned about his philosophy of non-violence social change and how he knew that violence only breeds violence. The most important things that my teachers taught me, however, was not just about Martin Luther King Jr's philosophy.  My teachers explained that in order for a non-violent movement to work it takes so many people.  It takes people whose names are never widely known and who don't receive as much attention as Martin did.  It takes  families and communities that are determined to make a difference working together to create change. The other thing that I was told time and again was that it takes young people to build movements. 
If we truly want to eradicate gun violence in the Crown Heights community it is going to take young people coming together.  I am invested in helping young folks in the Crown Heights community shape their neighborhood into a place where they can grow up safely.

Let's go!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Introducing YO S.O.S.

"Changing the world starts with changing our fundamental state of mind"
-Daisaku Ikeda
Crown Heights is my home. From the hallways of P.S. 138 on Prospect Place and Nostrand Avenue to Brower Park to Sonatas Steel Orchestra on Sterling and Troy to the West Indian Day Parade on Eastern Parkway, Crown Heights is my home. I am a true product of this neighborhood. I have received academic accolades in one vein and handcuffs in the other. I have seen Crown Heights grow from the crack-filled, crime-riddled days of the 1980’s to the gentrifying neighborhood it is becoming. Throughout it all, however, there has remained one constant; crime. As someone that has been on both sides of the crime spectrum as a youth, I have experienced the pain both as the victim and perpetrator of how violence feels. I have experienced the indifference and apathy that many of us feel towards violence in our community. Furthermore, as someone that has spent many years working with young people in Brooklyn, I know of their ability to influence our neighborhood for the good and the bad.

Realizing the enormous potential of our young people, I now represent this community as the Program Coordinator for a new youth development program called Youth Organizing to Save Our Streets (YO S.O.S.). YO S.O.S. has been created to give young people the power to change the way we view violence in our neighborhoods. As we see it, in order to reduce violence, we have to first change how we view violence. Our youth initiative will provide after school programming that will give interactive life skills training and leadership development while empowering Youth to be leaders and organizers around issues of nonviolence. These youth organizers will provide the cultural shift necessary to change how we view violence in our community. As an added incentive to participation in this afterschool movement, we will provide paid summer employment opportunities for all completed program participants.

We invite you to join on this youth-led campaign of nonviolence, and we ask you to keep in mind the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Only when we realize that we are all affected by violence will we be able to change our fundamental state of mind. Only then will we be able to change the one constant in this, my home, Crown Heights.
Power to the Youth!

Marlon Peterson
YO S.O.S. Program Coordinator