Friday, August 17, 2012

Alley Pond Park Adventure Course

On August 11, 2012, Brownsville Youth Court members, in conjunction with the Greenpoint Youth Court, took a trip to the Alley Pond Park Adventure Course to participate in team building and leadership exercises. Members challenged themselves and worked together to problem solve and accomplish a shared goal. The day was filled with challenging activities that were both fun and empowering to the Youth Court members. Some of the highlights are showcased in the pictures below.

Brownsville Youth Court Members get ready for a day of excitement and adventure at Alley Pond Park Adventure Course.
 One of the activities required the group to get each member over the log, which was raised 7 feet off the ground. The members practiced trust falls and how to support each other before starting the activity. On the way up, Christal was happy and excited, but was a little nervous to come down

As 3 court members managed to get up the 40 foot pole, they ran into trouble as the fourth member attempted to join them on the platform. However, that did not stop these adventurous young people from completing the task!

Here the members are supporting one another on the tight rope. As two Greenpoint Youth Court members rely on each other to begin the activity, they receive support from fellow Brownsville Youth Court members to get to the finish.

Brownsville Youth Court members, Christal and Tynesia, try to hold on and balance each other on the tight rope. Half-way to the finish!

Brownsville Youth Court and Greenpoint Youth Court had a day full of fun and
 adventure at Alley Pond Park.

Brownsville Youth Court's Summer of Service

Over the last three months, the Brownsville Youth Court members have dedicated 115 hours of community service throughout the Brownsville community. In addition to conducting hearings on a weekly basis, the members gave extra time to give back to Brownsville. Check out their contributions to the community below.

On June 30, 2012, the Brownsville Youth Court assisted in the grand opening of a new Community Garden located on Powell Street and Livonia Avenue. The members were out in the community informing residents of the Garden’s location and all of the healthy options available at the Garden’s Farmer’s Market such as delicious homemade candies and fresh vegetables from the garden.


On July 7, 2012 The Brownsville Youth Court set up a Face Painting station and turned the young kids into characters of their choice at the Pitkin Summer Plazas. A fun day was had by all. The Pitkin Summer Plazas is annual event sponsored by The Pitkin Avenue BID, the Brownsville Partnership, and Shoppers World. Pitkin Avenue went car-free from Strauss Street to Amboy! Activities included games, fitness classes, and educational resources for the youth.


On August 7, 2012, the Brownsville Youth Court participated in the 73rd Police Precinct’s annual National Night Out Against Crime event at Betsy- Head park.  The Youth Court members interacted with Brownsville’s youth population with a ball toss game. Each young person was given two opportunities to win a gold medal. In addition, the members encouraged fellow peers to avoid violence by handing out “Peace” buttons.

Brownsville Youth Court members with police dog, Scruff McGruff.

A young man trying his best to win a goal medal!

Youth Court member, Tynesia, engaging a young person from Brownsville.


On August 8, 2012, the Groundswell Mural Project, in collaboration with the Center for Court Innovation and the Student Farm Project, worked to complete a mural on at 514 Rockaway Ave.

Youth Court member, Christal, contributing her artistic abilities to the Mural Project.


On August 10, 2012, Youth Court members visited our community service partners at the True Holy Church Food Pantry. The members packed over 200 bags of food to be handed out to local residents in need.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Brooklyn Resource Hub Opens!

Yesterday was the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new Department of Probation Resource Hub downtown in the Municipal Building at 210 Joralemon Street.  Here's Commisioner Vincent Schiraldi giving his remarks.

Like the NeON here in Brownsville and at other locations around the City, the goal of the new Resource Hubs are to transform dreary waiting rooms into informational areas, work spaces, and places to find  inspiration and help.

Deputy Commisioner Karen Armstrong started the ceremony off by sharing her own experience where she felt that the old waiting spaces sent the message that "Probation doesn't care about you, so why should clients care about Probation?" With the new spaces, she is certain that probationers will feel empowered to make positive changes.

This approach has a lot in common with the ideas about what a community court should look like and how the physical layout and furnishing of civic facilities send important messages that are part of the principles of community justice that the Center For Court Innovation seeks to promote as well.
For more on the development of the Resource Hubs and the NeONs, and a new Mayoral Initiative called "See Change" that seeks to reimagine a variety of spaces where people actually interact with City services, particulaly those accessed by at-risk New Yorkers, read this article from Metropolis Magazine.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Another Shooting, But New Approaches To Soliving The Problem Are Taking Hold

Playgrounds, basketball courts, block parties:  the spike in shootings this summer has particularly affected youth and young adults.  Last night, four teens were shot in a playground in the Brownsville area by a teen assailant who rode away on a bicycle. (The location, which is actually the nearby Ocean Hill neighborhood, was described by news reports as being in Brownsville.)  Click here, and here, for news coverage.

Fortunately, innovative approaches to this seemingly intractable problem are increasingly being used in New York.  Here, the Brownsville Community Justice Center is piloting a series of "call-ins" to utilize the theories of focused deterrence promoted by Tracy Meares and others.  On August 9th, representatives from the New York Police Department, Kings County District Attorney's Office,  US Attorney's Office, ex-offenders, and local service providers came together for our first Offender Notification Meeting. The meeting which is also called a "Call-In" convened sixteen high-risk parolees released to the Brownsville community. These parolees are also perpetrators and/or victims of gun violence.   The forum was held in a neutral, community-based location.  As described previously on this blog, the message was threefold: individuals in the room will be closely watched, further violence is unacceptable, and help is available to anyone who chooses to avail themselves of it.

In related news, see below for an excerpt from the current affairs show "Here and Now" in which Marlon Peterson, associate director of the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center, talks about their anti-gun violence efforts in an area very nearby to Brownsville. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

National Night Out Against Crime

Last night was National Night Out Against Crime, a nation-wide event that began back in 1984 to improve police community relations and neighborhood morale.  Here in Brownsville, the 73rd Precinct held a wonderful event with food, music, basketball, moon bounces, a climbing wall and lots of neighborhood organizations.  Our staff and participants from the Justice Center came out to provide information and mingle with residents.   The Mayor, Police Commissioner, Kings County District Attorney and Brooklyn Borough President were among the dignitaries in attendance; and our program members and staff enjoyed meeting them!

From top to bottom: Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Police Commisioner Raymond Kelly, Brookyln Borough President Marty Markowitz, and Captain Joseph Gulotta, commanding officer of the 73rd Precinct, with staff and members from the Brownsville Community Justice Center.