Deborah Prothrow-Stith, a national leader in the social movement to prevent violence, spoke in our community decades ago about her Slot Machine Theory: All the cherries have to come up at the same time to win.
Several of us were inspired to identify 12 “cherries” to become a comprehensive plan to prevent violence in Kansas City: children, spouses, substance abuse, sexual abuse, bullying, racism, poverty, gun proliferation, youth gangs, anger, neighborhood needs and mass incarceration. Another strategy recommended was saturation — engaging a critical mass of people to confirm the issues and become involved in the transformation. Thus was born “Countdown to Non-Violence.”
The next step would be gathering all the community organizations that deal with these 12 factors and identifying a chairperson for each issue. Twelve banks, community foundations and corporations would fund staff required for a three-year commitment to empower residents in the most violent ZIP codes.
We envisioned a leadership role for the mayor, City Council members, Downtown Council, Civic Council, Chamber of Commerce, United Way, Local Investment Commission, the faith community, Ad Hoc Group Against Crime, KC Common Good and countless other significant organizations. Media, educational resources, the arts community, police and young people all have a part to play.
No single effort can succeed. Mobilizing everyone who cares to make a difference — at the same time — could be our solution.
Reaching Out From Within