Grow Dat recently hosted a Youth Anti-Violence Summit on the farm in response to the shooting on Mother’s Day which deeply touched our Grow Dat community.
It was a day of reflection, sharing, and an attempt to envision a world different than the one we inhabit today. Filmmaker John Richie screened a section of his film Shellshocked and answered questions. Youth wrote letters to someone in their lives that had been touched by gun violence, and then shared their letters with another crew member.
Crew members were invited to create two kinds of trees: an unhealthy tree that maps systems of violence in New Orleans and beyond; and a healthy tree that maps systems of individual and community-wide success, peace and happiness. Youth were encouraged to identify the roots of both trees, brainstorm what sustains the roots and helps the trees grow (the trunk), and what sort of leaves or fruit are produced by each foundation. As leaves fall from the trees and touch the earth, they become the soil that nourishes the roots, creating a system that is reinforced and recirculated over time.
William Mupo from the Health Department at the Mayor’s Office shared the city’s plan to address violence, and listened to youth recommendations on what they think the city should do.
Grow Dat youth answer the question: What can the City do to improve New Orleans?
- Create more job opportunities.
- Make the physical environment nicer.
- Identify people involved in crimes and provide them with resources to change.
- Improve the NOPD.
- Intervene to try to stop retaliation killings.
- Create preventative solutions to violence: counseling, medical care, etc.
- Create a safe community place for teens and children.
- Create new teen activities in the city.
- More funding for after school programs.
- More things like Grow Dat.
- Rebuild the movie theater and malls in the East.
- More parks.
- Improve the school system.
- Raise age range for park ball.
- Build new, safe, and fun communities in the East.
- Improve public school buildings and resources.
- Stop selling guns (so people are unable to get them).