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Shall we choose to walk down another street? Interview on Radio Humberside about ‘anti-social behaviour’

I was invited to take part in a discussion about anti-social behaviour on Radio Humberside. Here’s the audio:

Some context to the discussion is that EMU came into being BECAUSE of ASB – the summer of 2017 was particularly disruptive with the start of County Lines gangs and the sense of an abandoned neighbourhood; but we didn’t rush out and get surveillance cameras set up everywhere or expect the police to save us or for lawmakers to enact more and more repressive and punitive laws. Rather we sat down together to work out what had brought our neighbourhood to this.

And, surprise! We found that poverty played a very important part and that poverty is not a lack of character, it’s a lack of cash – but it’s also about not having access to the benefits of civilisation – which is why we now have projects in mutual aid, community arts and community education.

With a lot of help from friends at the council we have also bought three houses and aim to buy 100 over time so that we can become sustainable over a generation as an ethical community landlord. We also helped get East Marsh Construction under way and they are employing local people doing the refurbishment work that needs doing. We’re also working with our MP and with Create Streets to really change the architecture of our neighbourhood to make it more people-friendly and to start to green the neglected East Marsh.

If people feel valued, if they have nice homes, nice streets, job opportunities, educational opportunities, health care – all of the benefits of our civilisation, I would argue they are less likely to be disengaged from society and disrupt the social peace.

There’s a poem by Portia Nelson (below) that sums up what I think we keep doing with our focus on doing the same old things that are clearly not working because we keep on having this discussion and talking about… doing the same old things!

What do you think? Keep trying the old ways or let’s try something new and kind by engaging people in our communities so that everybody can flourish?

Fall In

There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk: An Autobiography in Five Short Chapters
By Portia Nelson

Chapter One
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost …. I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter Two
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend that I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in this same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter Three
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit … but, my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter Four
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter Five
I walk down another street.