Well I know that Louisville is the home of the slugger, bourbon and a smallish horse race but I had never been there. Another edition of our Faith and Community Based Violence Reduction Program brought me to this challenging city on the Ohio. Challenging as it is still one of the most segregated cities in America with a definite east and west side that has seen a dramatic uptick in violence and homicides. Despite this, there are signs of a renaissance mostly driven by the service industry and a change agent Mayor.
I had the honor of working with Reverend Vincent James who runs an Interfaith Coalition of 256 faith centers in the Louisville area – yes this is part of the bible belt! The coalition is striving to learn from other successful practices like the 10 Point Coalition from Boston. In fact, we brought the architect of the Boston program Reverend Jeffery Brown to share his experiences with the group. Reverend Brown started his presentation reminding everyone that he was a pastor and it takes him 15 minutes to clear his throat! He completely wowed us all with his words, I will always remember his line “you have to go and meet youth at risk and youth that have taken a risk where and when they are not where you are”. Getting faith leaders out of the churches into night walks was the central theme of the Boston Coalition.
We also brought Erin Fairchild one of the best Trauma experts from Portland Oregon ostensibly to introduce the science of managing trauma to the group. Little did I know that this session would quickly turn into a very emotional self-help catharsis for those who are working on the front lines. Those of you who know the book “The Wounded Healer” by Nouwen will know what I am talking about, there are healers looking for help.
It is hard to know how useful these sessions are to places like Louisville. I wish we had been able to tape these sessions and that they could somehow or other be shown in schools as they are full of learning opportunities.