In 2016, Providence, RI could boast about the positive turn away from gang related homicides when that number dropped to zero. According to , this model could be the goal the city of Chicago could strive for in lowering the violence in the Austin community. In the discussion titled “The New Architecture of Violence Reduction in Chicago,” the group of panelists of community leaders, outreach directors and a representative from the Chicago Police Department, explained the positive outcomes of having more community activism and involvement in lowering and eliminating violence. While 2016 saw the worst year of gun violence in the city, Ric Estrada, CEO of Metropolitan Family Services, indicated that joining efforts between the police, outreach groups and the community remains vital to serve the neighborhoods and address gang violence. All of the panelists shared their visions and philosophy of turning Chicago towards a positive model of rebuilding the relationships between the community and the outreach workers who are taking a best practices approach from Los Angeles. As a final note, Ernest Cato III, 15th district commander of the Chicago Police Department, stated communities must be partnered to make a positive change in their neighborhoods.
The 26th Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Distinguished Lecture was delivered by Kelly Clements, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees. Clements opened her lecture with an extended narrative concerning a refugee from Venezuela named Sujit who faced a lack of services, food insecurity, theft, gangs, and constant exhortation before seeking a better future in Colombia, where she and her family moved to escape these issues. Currently, 70 million people are displaced around the world due to a combination of political turmoil, wars, and environmental crisis, but Clement uncovered many of the myths around refugees’ struggles and the international community’s goal of inclusion. Broken into four main components, Clement described how social inclusion, labor considerations plus education, financial support and digital documentation can assist refugees in finding support, security, and a new beginning for their futures. While Syria has the highest number of refugees seeking a new life, Libya has the worst procedures for addressing the refugee responses, detaining families and individuals in centers only to move them to another center rather than assist with permanent relocation. When one attendee addressed the call to action and asked what we could do for the refugees, Clement simply noted that becoming engaged by contributing to a person, a local church, or a community group working with refugees was an action to take or forwarding the view of refugees’ personal narratives as a human issue – not just a numbers game – are steps in the right direction.