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14 August 2010

State of The Re:Union - Milwaukee, WI: City of Vision

Listening to NPR today, I caught bits and pieces of the show State of The Re:Union.  This episode was all about Milwaukee, detailing several different approaches to community building.  I found it very interesting, and full of examples of what I would call effective social change.  The first segment was about a nurse who opened an assisted living center in inner-city Milwaukee.  She takes her own approach to caring for seniors, and even goes so far as to refuse federal funding because the restrictions they would place on her wouldn't benefit the people she cares for.  The second segment is about the urban farming movement in the city.  The third segment has a good example of John Law's methods assemblages - a project called "restorative justice" in which community members, law enforcement agents, and formerly incarcerated people come together to talk and share their stories.  I found this quote particularly interesting:
"The concept of restorative justice takes the view that we do not live in separate spaces from each other that the people committing the crimes, the victims, police officers, and ordinary citizens are all in this together, and the only way to start to solve the collective problems is to talk about the harm that's been done."
It's not a cure all, for sure.  What comes out eventually is that the community really needs jobs, but it provides a beginning for understanding and the possibility for moving forward.  The show ends with a visit to a night-time soccer game with immigrants from all over the world, and this quote:
"Remember, things fall apart.  It's our job to bring them back together."  

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