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Monday, March 28, 2011

JSLP Exposes Youth to the Discipline of Martial Arts

By Saudi Encarnacion, Clinical Coordinator

On Saturday, March 12, 2011 the Juvenile Service Learning Program youth were ready to begin their community service day. The Juvenile Service Learning Program is a Family Court/Alternative to Placement program for youth on probation who are mandated to complete 60 hours of community service. The purpose of this program is to incorporate service learning into traditional community service, encouraging youth to meaningfully reflect on, and grow from, the experience.

As the group was preparing for community service, one young man asked, “what we gonna do today?  Hearing that we were going to be guests at the Martial Arts Center the responses were a mix of indifference, apprehension, excitement and curiosity.

Upon arriving to the Martial Arts Center, the group received VIP treatment from Master J. Sanchez who readily gave us his undivided attention. The group participated in introductory martial arts activities including cardio exercise, boxing, kick boxing, Judo and Tae Kwon Do. Master Sanchez followed the fitness activities with a discourse on the significance of Martial Arts as a holistic practice that emphasizes mind/body connection health. He expressed that the purpose of Martial Arts is to acquire confidence, discipline, patience and perseverance. Most importantly, he emphasized that the core of Martial Arts is to actually refrain from physical aggression, as that indicates that the individual has gained the upmost restraint and power. Through out the morning, youth were respectfully engaged in the fitness activities and offered constructive and insightful comments on Master Sanchez’s talk.

As our fitness session ended, there was not a doubt in my mind that all the participants greatly enjoy the mornings’ activities. The smiles and vigor among all the participants and the enthusiastic comments expressing the desire to visit the Martial Arts Center once again was confirmation of the benefits of working on the mind and body. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Bronx Borough President's Office Celebrates Women's History Month

By Melissa Novock, STARS Case Manager

On Wednesday, March 16, 2001 Saudi Encarnacion, Clinical Coordinator and myself, Melissa M. Novock , Case Manager for STARS, attended a spirit filled Breakfast Forum entitled "Our History Is Our Strength" to celebrate Women's History Month.  The forum was presented by Bronx Borough President, Ruben Diaz Jr. and First Lady, Hilda Diaz.  Ms. Aurelia Greene, Deputy Borough President,  led the forum as mistress of ceremonies. 

The event commemorated the work of three honorees, women driven by passion to make a difference in the lives of Bronx residents and ultimately contribute to the success of the Bronx.  Ms. Hilda Diaz kicked off the event in sharing her personal story of success. Success for her included, dedication to her family and remaining persistent and vigilant in obtaining her career goals. 
The honorees were, Aramina Vega Ferrer, Ph.D., Honorable Laura G. Douglas, Administrative Justice, Civil Division Bronx Supreme Court and Majora Carter, founder of the Sustainable South Bronx.

Each honoree's story was an example of strength, courage and working hard to make a difference in one's community.  Whether it is the education system, the legal system or the community, one thing is for sure, with the talents and wisdom of the honorees, along with all of the other inspirational women at the forum, the Bronx will continue to be upheld and grow via their strength and commitment.

We, at Bronx Community Solutions, hope to inspire our female clients in a similar way, by empowering clients to create goals, and inspiring them to achieve those goals one step at a time. The method is to create an understanding that every healthy action or choice can allow them to connect to their goals. 

New Video Released by the Center for Court Innovation

The Center for Court Innovation has just released Testing New Ideas: Evidence, Innovation and Community Courts, a short film about community justice that we recently produced in partnership with the Bureau of Justice Assistance at the U.S. Department of Justice.

The video tells the story of community courts, from the first such project in Midtown Manhattan to more recent adaptations of the model in Dallas, San Francisco, and other cities across the country. The film, which includes interviews with New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Portland District Attorney Michael Schrunk, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr., and others, is designed to introduce new audiences to the core elements of the community court model and how it might be used to address low-level crime and bolster public trust in justice. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Two Youth Perspectives on the State of the Borough

On February 24, 2011 Bronx Community Solutions attended the State of the Borough Address.
Here are the perspectives of two Youth Justice Corps Members, Michael Patterson and Sean Myers.

Michael Patterson

My name is Michael Patterson. I am 21 and I am currently a resident in the Bronx. I see poverty, gang activities and drug abuse every day. Sometimes it makes me ashamed to say that In am from this Borough. But I want to thank the Borough President, Ruben Diaz Jr. for changing my own perception of the Bronx.

It was an honor to be in the audience listening to the Borough President’s brilliant ideas to rebuild the cracks and pieces in the Bronx. I agree with a lot of the things he stated. Two key ideas that sparked my interest was the repairing of the Kingsbridge Armory and decreasing gang and gun activity.

I think turning that Kingsbridge Armory into a Center will be a great idea. It’s the right destination to place it and it will also create more job opportunities for the unemployed. I pass Kingsbridge everyday and every time I see the Armory building I say to myself "That place should be a mall". But hearing the Borough President ideas and his reasons why he wouldn’t make it into a mall really enlightened me. Putting a mall there will increase the unemployment rate in the city because if a mall was placed there then Fordham road is in HOT WATER which is only one stop away from the Armory. The only thing that I question about this idea is, where will everyone park if that building becomes a Center?

I also agree with the statement "gang violence will not be tolerated". I would like to know more about how the Borough President is planning on tackling this issue. Gun violence is spreading like a disease. I feel like this is an issue that will take a lot of time before being solved. Gangs are increasing in members and more drugs are being sold. I don’t know how complicated it is to solve this problem but I know it isn’t easy.

I was very glad that I attended this assembly. I’ve learned a lot of things about my Borough, from the bad to the good. I thank Ruben Diaz Jr. for his work and dedication. I also thank him for everything he has done and brought to the Bronx. Before I attended this assembly I never was so quick to say that I am from the Bronx. But people like Ruben Diaz Jr make people like me proud to say that I am from the BX.

Sean Glenn Myers

The staff of Bronx Community Solutions was invited to the State of the Borough Address by Ruben Diaz, The Bronx Borough President. I had a wonderful experience hearing  the motivational speech and being able to see the pioneers of the Bronx.   The Bronx Borough President is committed to change so that one day the Bronx will be a better place. I wasn't to fond of the video that was developed as a response to American Idol's slander, but I see their hearts are in the right place .  But for future reference: if you want to break the  stereotype of the Bronx, you have to look at the Bronx in a different light.  So no rap anthems!!!

The Borough President touched on a lot of subjects, like the public and private housing problem with tenants and landlords, the educational problems of over filled classes, underachievement on regional and national exams, and the constant gun violence in the Bronx.  Throughout the presentations one subject really caught my attention.  It  was the state funding  of  green development This project is an environmental  community-wide and regional  approach which integrates the following elements:  environmental responsiveness,; resource efficiency, and community building.

The Program was described in a way that sounds like it will be an effective method to change of the health and pollution in the Bronx. The question is, will it be affordable for Bronx's residents?  Green Development quoted ''Many developers fear that following a green agenda will delay project schedules and raise costs.  The reality, however, is that well-executed green development projects…perform extremely well financially. In fact, even though many of the leading-edge developers … have strong environmental backgrounds and ideals, the financial rewards of green development are now bringing mainstream developers into the fold at an increasing pace. It is possible --indeed it is the norm--to do well financially by doing the right thing environmentally. For example, project costs can be reduced, buyers or renters will spend less to operate green buildings, and developers can differentiate themselves from the crowd--getting a big marketing boost.”

It is my experience however, that improved real estate comes at a price, which brings up the next question:  will the people of the Bronx be able to afford living in new green developments? For example, the development on Fox Avenue has rents ranging up to $3,000 for a 2 bedroom.  Which low income family will be able to afford it, and which voucher or program would you need to be eligible? I'm very excited that The Bronx is revolutionizing to become eco-friendly  but at what cost ?

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Community Collaboration Addresses Hot Spot

By TK Singleton

When residents and officers of the West Farms Area were faced with  the recurring issue of prostitution, the community worked with the 48th Precinct to address the issue through the criminal justice system, including working with Bronx Community Solution's alternatives to prostitution program that screes women engaged in prostitution for histories of sexual assault and domestic violence. 
Recently, the was a New York Times article about this area. It brought to light how prostitution affected the community at large (both parents and children). The article spoke about a particular area that was occupied by the women and had an absentee landlord. This space was directly accross the street from a school.
Within days of this article, many organizations came together and worked on how we could address this issue in an aggressive and innovative way. The Mayor’s Office Community Affairs Unit and The Forty-Eight Precinct called a meeting with Bronx Community Solutions, Sanitation, Environmental Protection Agency and DCAS. In this meeting we worked on both long term and short term strategies to address this issue.
Together we all worked on cleaning and fencing the area. Enclosing that area means there is no place for business! The fence has been up for a little over two months now, at the last Precinct Council meeting no one spoke about prostitution. Prior to this initiative, prostitution would be the first thing the community would mention, now it seems a distant memory.