Johannesburg (dpa) – The US Department of State recommended on Sunday that its citizens in Burundi leave the country as soon as possible after an outbreak of violence in the past days left at least 87 people dead. Armed groups operate in Burundi and gunfire and grenade attacks occur with frequency, a statement from the department…
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Recent Deaths Force Memphis To Confront Its Problems With Crime And A Lack Of Opportunities For Young People
By Courtney Anderson
MEMPHIS, TN- This southern city is renowned for its importance in American culture. It is sadly also known as one of the most violent cities in the country, with a violent crime rate that is nearly three times that of the entire state of Tennessee.
Local news reports the deaths of Memphis citizens nearly every day.
With the recent deaths of 18-year-old Myneisha Johnson, who was only a week away from graduating high school, and Memphis police officer Verdell Smith, city government officials have sworn to fight back against crime.
Memphis mayor Jim Strickland promised to create even more efforts against crime, and released his plan on June 6.
Strickland’s plans, titled “Better Memphis,” calls for more police officer patrols, improved communication between MPD, highway patrol and sheriff deputies and more close monitoring of past offenders.
“We have to do a lot more as a city government and as a community,” Strickland said in a statement on June 9. “As a city government, we need more police officers. We need coordination with the sheriff and the state.”
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The website for the Memphis Police Department has a statement about the department’s dedication to crime prevention and several examples of programs created to curtail crime.
“The Crime Prevention efforts of the Memphis Police Department seek to combine prevention, intervention, and law enforcement in a partnership effort with the community to combat crime,” the Memphis Police Department site states.
The Memphis Police Department’s website features the Community Outreach Program (also known as C.O.P), the Neighborhood Watch, “Memphis’s Night Out Against Crime” and other programs.
The MPD has also increased their presence on the often-crowded Beale Street and those who visit the famous street are charged a $10 cover fee.
And yet, crime in Memphis still seems to be on the rise.
Crime despite increased policing indicates other issues besides police presence in the city. While the MPD is experiencing a low enrollment rate and have experienced a severe cut in funding, the communities that experience the most crime still have heavy police presence. Memphis’s problems do not seem to have come from a lack of policing.
Memphis’s main issues seem to stem from an uneven distribution of the city’s money and resources.
It is no secret that the areas of Memphis that experience the most crime (the Frayser and South Memphis areas being two of the most prominent) are the ones that have the least community centers, schools and other educational resources.
Even Strickland admits that part of the problem comes from the fact that the 18-24 age group doesn’t have much to do.
“The frustrating thing for people is, they want immediate results,” Strickland said in an interview with a local news station. “Nationally, we were the worst in the country in the percent of young people, aged 18-24, who were not in school and who did not have a job. We need to create more programming for young people to have something to do when they’re not in school.”
The city of Memphis has closed several elementary, middle and high schools throughout the years. Most recently, the city closed down George Washington Carver High School, which was located in South Memphis.
Another high school, Northside High, is also supposed to be closed in 2017.
And there is the uneven number of community centers across the city.
There are 24 community centers in Memphis, but while there are nine of them in North Memphis, there are only four in South Memphis.
Not to mention the fact that the centers do not have consistent hours or programming.
The onus for protecting children and teenagers in Memphis often falls on the parents and neighborhood churches and organizations run by citizens.
“The families of these troubled youths, the churches, the communities, the non-profits. We all have to step up and do more,” Strickland stated.
Luckily, they have.
Churches in North Memphis and Frayser have worked to create summer day camps and educational after-school programs.
Major churches often hold citywide prayers and discussions about preventing crime and helping Memphis youth. And they do it on their own dimes.
While city funding for schools, city-run programs for young Memphis citizens, and the police and fire departments seem absent, funding for new corporations seems to create a paradox.
One recent example is ServiceMaster Co., which was awarded a $5.5 million grant to renovate and move into the vacant Peabody Place building in downtown Memphis.
ServiceMaster, along with the Turner Dairy Foods and TAG truck services, were granted tax breaks by the Economic Development and Growth Engine.
And then there is the Memphis Riverfront Corporation and the long-delayed Beale Street Landing.
In 2014, it was estimated that the Beale Street Landing would cost $43 million. Back then, the city council voted to provide another $600,000 to the construction and restore funds the city had previously cut.
It’s hard to square the image of a financially strapped city that can’t pay for schools and one that gives payment in lieu of taxes to major corporations. It’s a juxtaposition that may give many Memphis citizens pause.
When you look at these situations, you see a city that needs to reorder its priorities. Memphis citizens, who have been trying to follow Strickland’s “advice” to do more, need a boost from the city. There is only so much a community can do with little money and resources.
In order for the city to truly advance, the government will have to provide more support to its citizens. And the support will have to come in some form other than more police officers.
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.
Cover Photo Credit: Joel/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)Post Views: 348
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By Allyn Farach
With not a soul but her dog Elli, Sally Gardiner-Smith spent the last nine months at sea. The 19-year-old pledged to sail 3,000 miles by herself to college as a gap year, making it just before freshman orientation.
Gardiner-Smith decided that in October, she would set sail from Woolwich, Maine to Eckerd College in Saint Petersburg, Florida where she would attend college in the fall.
Traveling has been a part of Gardiner-Smith’s life ever since she was a little girl – she was born during a two-year sailing trip that her family was taking.
“Some of the earliest years of my life were spent traveling on a sailboat with my parents and sister. On two trips, which each lasted about two years, we traveled to Central America, the Caribbean and across the Atlantic to Europe,” Gardiner-Smith said on her Portland Press Herald blog.
Like any grand voyage, there were obstacles along the way. A dinghy line got caught in the propellor and caused the engine to stop. This proved to be an easy fix for Gardiner-Smith, who jumped into the water and cut the line.
Another issue arose when Gardiner-Smith’s dog, Elli, was hit by a car in Maryland and had to have a leg amputated. Gardiner-Smith was at first upset by the damage that her dog had suffered. She wrote: “… I hope that I can be like her when faced with catastrophe. There’s a lot that I cannot control and misfortune strikes everyone. It can hurt us, make us sad, and set us back. But there is never, ever, a reason to give up. Life is too full of wonders – for Elli there are places to be sniffed and belly rubs.”
Gardiner-Smith docked in Saint Petersburg in late July and is currently attending college, but is showing no signs of slowing down. She plans on taking a trip to Cuba over winter break.Post Views: 494
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By: Lungani Gumede
UMLAZI TOWNSHIP, SOUTH AFRICA: Growing up in a rural village has many advantages and some of society’s favorite stories involve a dusty footed hero making it big in the city.
One of the biggest advantages of living in a rural setting is being thrust into the natural environment early on in ones life.
The surrounding forests, fields and rivers are a playground for children and, like other children, Dumisani Msweli quickly became infatuated with this environment.
He used to live with his grandmother in rural Umbumbulu, thirty minutes away from where Kwa-Zulu Natal’s coast meets the Indian Ocean.
However, Dumisani moved to be with his mother and stepfather in Umlazi township, the third largest township in South Africa, just outside of Durban.
Umlazi was one of them.
With a population of close to 405,000 in an area that is 47.46km squared (8,500 people per square kilometre) the township is compacted and land that is supposed to fit one family, has had to accommodate four or five houses on one plot.
So any arable land would have been converted into space for dwellings.
However, Dumisani always felt love for plants and trees and never forgot his passion.
After high school, Dumisani went to University and graduated with a degree in Nutrition, but that was not his passion.
“One of my mentors advised me to follow my passion,” Dumisani said in an interview with RISE NEWS.
Which is what he did by going back to school. He received a National Diploma in Horticulture from the Durban University of Technology.
Dumisani then says he “saw a need and an opportunity in the township,” a need for work, cheap products and a cleaner environment.
This is how Ibala Organics was born.
Ibala means “backyard” or “garden” in isiZulu and Dumisani quickly realized that other amabala or “openspace” that belonged to the people in the community were the key to creating a sustainable, consistently fruitful business for the township of Umlazi.
Dumisani’s idea was to rent and buy land from inside the community, such as gardens, backyards and schoolyards and plant tropical and subtropical fruits and then sell those fruits to supermarkets and fruit processors.
By shortening and localizing his supply chain, Dumisani says there will be no need for expensive refrigeration or transportation.
The initiative will sell its fruits (pun intended) to fruit processors and supermarkets, which means that the gardens will need to provide its wares regularly and on time and the more “amabala” they have, the better.
Ibala already has a square kilometre of household backyard space that it has acquired and processed and a further 1.5 kilometre squared space from schoolyards that are being cultivated for the planting of vegetables in April.
However, Dumisani says he is always on the lookout and constantly negotiating for more spaces.
Ibala Organics aims to provide communities with a very valuable second income, without actually having to toil the land.
Dumisani hires people from the community to work with him and is adamant that he wants to give opportunities to people who just left school with the right qualifications, over eight million people are unemployed in South Africa and university-leaving degree-bearing young people are not being hired.
Besides the good that Ibala Organics will do for the economies of the communities it operates in, Dumisani says “it is our vision to plant the value of tree’s in people’s lives.”
Dumisani wants to ensure that the people who will be participating in Ibala Organics gain a love for the plants and trees that he will be planting.
Getting buy-in from the community was not a problem for Dumisani, because he started close to home – on his own street.
Once he had proven his model to those close to home, it was easier to get support from neighboring communities.
The drought that has hit South Africa has not severely impacted on Ibala’s crop of tropical and subtropical fruit, such as Mangoes,paw paw, avocado, banana, granadilla, citrus fruit and litchi and in April they hope to add vegetables to the offering.
Ibala Organics will soon be completely operational and the gardens of Umlazi will be home to trees and plants with heavy-hanging branches bearing fruit and vegetables.
Perhaps Ibala Organics and Dumisani will create a wave across the 400,000 people strong township that encourages local products and unity in the community.
A hand-in-hand initiative for the people, by the people.
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us!
Know of a story that needs to be told? Send us an email to email@example.com
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