Last weekend, a variety of community organizations, including the Republican, in the city of Springfield, Massachusetts sponsored a "community summit" called "City of Hope: Saving Our Youth." This summit and a preceding summit in January were organized in response to recent violence that has claimed a number of lives, particularly among young African-American men.
The summit hosted discussions of solutions to youth unemployment and violence. Organizers of the summit felt that this was a good start, but more is needed. The Republican quoted Denise Jordan, the summit's moderator as saying that
It's one thing to come up with solutions, but if we're not going to carry them out, it's not effective. We have to engage the powers that be so we can effect change.
The Rev. Talbert Swan II, Assistant Executive Director of Northern Educational Services, a non-profit organization serving Springfield and environs was quoted by the Republican as saying
Our community's biggest problem has been what to do beyond the initial response.
The issue of youth poverty and violence in Springfield is one that ought to engage the attention and support of people well beyond Springfield - throughout western and central Massachusetts and indeed throughout all of Massachusetts. Beyond the compassion that we should feel for the suffering and despair that is going on within Springfield, we should be concerned relative to our own economic self-interest. The fortunes of Springfield affect all of us living west of Worcester. The value of my property and that of my neighbors is affected by what goes on 20 miles to the west. The economic prospects of this region are surely affected, if not driven, by what happens in the neighborhoods of Springfield.
All of us in western and central Massachusetts, particularly those of us who are insulated by physical or social distance from these problems, need to support the efforts of community leaders like Denise Jordan and Talbert Swan as they address the serious problems facing Springfield and its neighborhoods.