Thursday, April 8, 2021

Third-Generation CPTED in post-pandemic cities

What will cities look like and how will neighbourhoods function in the 21st Century?


by Mateja Mihinjac

A couple of weeks ago Greg Saville and I presented an online masterclass for the International CPTED Association in which we talked about the evolution of CPTED. We described the journey from the early urbanist and architectural influences in the Jacobs/Newman CPTED era through to the criminological, psychological and sociological research that informed our development of Third-Generation CPTED, a theory we introduced in 2019. 

We described some of our most recent advancements to the theory and we presented four principles that inform liveable neighbourhoods – we call them the 4S of Third-Generation CPTED.

From the beginning of the CPTED movement, Florida State University’s Professor C. Ray Jeffery called for interconnections between all sorts of environments - from psychological and biological to urban and social - in order to create a truly “environmental” crime prevention. 

Twenty years ago, South African researcher Chrisna Du Plessis made a similar connection between sustainable urban development, quality of life, and crime prevention. In 2014, Paul Cozens in Australia made the point that CPTED needed a much broader view of wider environments, specifically public health and urban sustainability. These authors, and others, laid the foundation for what we later developed into Third-Generation CPTED.

The story below describes how we consolidated that early work into a new, coherent theory of crime prevention. 

Hanging gardens and building greenery contribute to environmental sustainability
- photo by bobarc, Creative Commons

AN INTEGRATED THEORY

One of the main characteristics of Third-Generation CPTED lies in the amalgamation of safety with neighbourhood liveability. The theory says that highly liveable neighbourhoods should offer opportunities to satisfy the basic, moderate, and also the highest-level human needs at the same time – a process that psychologist Abraham Maslow described as a hierarchy-of-human-needs. 

This means that advanced neighbourhoods will have already addressed basic physiological, psychological, and social needs. When crime and safety risks emerge, that neighbourhood will have the capacity to proactively address them through collaborative local plans. In such places, residents themselves will have resources for pro-social activities, to engage in activities that satisfy what Maslow called self-actualization or access to activities that allow them to positively contribute to the lives of others beyond one’s self (Maslow describes this as self-transcendence). 


Maslow's hierarchy and neighbourhood liveability


When a neighbourhood has that kind of capacity, it becomes a thriving and collaborative place of joy, contentment, safety, and sustainability. For many, if not most, such neighbourhoods help children socialize and thrive, and adults gain personal fulfillment from the urban design, cultural excitement, and pro-social opportunities that flourish there. Opportunities for crime are minimized and opportunities for personal satisfaction are maximized. The key is to extend public safety and crime prevention beyond the simple focus on crime and onto the liveability and sustainability of neighbourhoods. 

 

Future cities must learn from, not repeat, ancient cities. Third-Generation CPTED
helps us use new discoveries in neighbourhood liveability


In Third-Generation CPTED we built neighbourhood liveability around four principles emerging directly from Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs. These principles act as the framework for this integrated theory of crime prevention and they are centred around sustainability: environmental, economic, social, and public health sustainability. We call them 4S (sustainability x 4).


THE 4S AND THE LINK TO CRIME 

There is research support for the preventive mechanisms in each of these four sustainability principles. For example, public health research demonstrates how physical exercise through neighbourhood walking enhances safety from crime.

The presence of those afflicted with mental health problems in a neighbourhood has long been known to contribute to conflict and suffering. Accordingly, there are many strategies that contribute to building the mental health of a neighbourhood, such as emotional intelligence training, self-awareness and meditation training, or dealing with risk factors from early childhood personal trauma.

Third-Generation CPTED employs 4S


Similarly, environmental factors can also provide a preventive shield, such as the greening of vacant lots to decrease gun assaults or enhancing overhead tree canopies to reduce street crime.


Autumn in the Bornste Hamlet, Germany. Tree canopies in urban areas need maintenance but provide beauty and connection to nature - photo by Deitmar Rabish, Creative Commons 


Investment in local infrastructure enhances economic sustainability and attention to social sustainability through grassroots community-based developments enhances the quality of life for local residents and can help reduce crime. 

Our proposition is that high-performing neighbourhoods designed around each of these four sustainability principles offer a more long-term solution to prevent crime and improve the quality of life. 

These four sustainability principles provide a powerful new integrated model for planning safer and resilient neighbourhoods in post-pandemic, 21st Century cities.


Friday, March 26, 2021

Social life without a car


Queensland, Australia - rural environments have unique transport challenges  

by Tarah Hodgkinson

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to chat with folks living in one of Northern Queensland’s islands in Australia. While speaking to local Indigenous leaders and community members about safety and liveability, I was struck by one particular issue they raised: transportation. 

Over the years we have posted many blogs on urban transportation and how it enhances liveability, including some creative innovations in the harshest climates. This time the story emerged from rural environments. I heard that it was often difficult for residents to find transportation to attend health care appointments, pick up groceries, visit with friends, and attend local events. Typical public transit such as buses or trains were not an option, because the population was small and very spread out. 

Rail lines in the town of Roma, Australia 


The issue resonated for a few reasons. 

First, in many of the rural communities I’ve worked with in recent years, I hear stories such as local kids unable to get to after-school activities or no access to basic health care and affordable food because they couldn’t get to their doctor or shops. In North Battleford, Canada, for example, clients of the local shelter explained that despite being able to get a ride into town for services, they were unable to find transportation home on the same day, leaving them stranded. 

Second, this issue was particularly important for older individuals. When our team partnered with the huge non-profit AARP a few years ago to run a SafeGrowth Search Conference in New Orleans, we learned quickly that transportation issues restricted access to necessary services and raised issues of safety for vulnerable populations like the elderly. 

Third, transportation issues also affect those living with disabilities. During my time with the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, I learned that many of our clients lacked accessible transportation, aside from a bi-weekly accessibility bus, leaving them isolated and unable to leave the house. 


TRANSPORT POVERTY

Often called transport poverty, the inability to access affordable and reliable transportation can result in a number of social issues. For a once-rural kid like myself, it often meant a lack of opportunities to engage in extracurriculars that offer pathways for success. Transport poverty also leaves many individuals feeling isolated and unable to engage in their community - one of the essential quality of life messages in 3rd Generation CPTED.

In some locations, informal networks emerge to create solutions to this issue. In the Australian town of Roma, Queensland, a local Indigenous elder spent most of her day driving local kids around to meetings and to school. 

At the MS Society in Ontario, there was an informal network of volunteers and other support staff who offered rides and helped people get to appointments and other things they couldn’t do without the accessibility bus. 

These stories are inspiring and remind us of the innovative and creative ways people come together to overcome issues in their neighbourhoods and communities. But there are more formal ways of making transportation easily accessible in order to allow people opportunities to build new networks and relationships and participate fully in their communities. 

Decent sidewalks and bike lanes make a big difference


For example, Demand Responsive Transit and Flexible Integrated Transport Systems offer a flexible and shared service that allows people who live near to each other to share transportation when buses or trains are not available or physically accessible. These systems allow users to pre-book transportation, meet at their home or nearby and travel to selected locations like shopping, health and community facilities or transportation hubs. 

Essentially, it is like a big taxi for people in your area, but far more affordable by using a standard low fare (public transit focused) and can be easily accessed through phone technology like apps. These kinds of programs are used in parts of Europe and Australia. 



Public transportation should be affordable and accessible to everyone. It allows us to connect and engage fully in our community, while also accessing services to improve our health and quality of life. And after a year of COVID-19 – it might be more important than ever. 


Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Summoning the demon - AI in law enforcement

1955 IBM Supercomputer - 24,000 lbs, vacuum tubes, and state-of-the-art.
Today it fits into your pocket - photo Creative Commons

 “I’m increasingly inclined to think that there should be some regulatory oversight, maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish. I mean with artificial intelligence we’re summoning the demon.” 
— Elon Musk at MIT’s AeroAstro Centennial Symposium


by Gregory Saville

A number of years ago I partnered with my friend, brilliant computer scientist friend, Nick Bereza, and we created an automated critical infrastructure protection software called ATRIM. Later, I did a stint with a tech startup in security. Thus, I was introduced into the glitzy world of tech and software development tradeshows. 

I saw firsthand an industry both exciting and volatile. Competition was fierce and missteps led to demise. Along the way, I discovered the unspoken hierarchy in the security technology world. Occupying the bottom were the junk science startups armed with a veneer of techno-gibberish. At the top was the bigboy of the high-tech playground: AI – Artificial Intelligence. At that time, security & law enforcement AI was little more than theory and conceptual White Papers. 

No longer. 

Hal 9000 AI computer - 2001: A Space Odyssey
- photo Creative Commons


There is an important math concept in the AI world known as the Laws of the Logarithms.

Logs are math functions used to speed up computations. One example is Moore’s Law which states that computer processing speeds double every two years. Thus, 10 units of computer memory become 20 and two years later become 40. In two decades those 10 units multiply at an exponential rate into 10,240… a thousand times higher. Logarithmic growth is the difference between narrow-AI (Apple’s “Siri” or Amazon’s “Alexi”) and deep-AI (Hal 9000 or Ava from Ex Machina) 


WHY DOES IT MATTER?

Sophie the Robot from Hansen Robotics was first activated on February 14, 2016, as a robotic allegory of AI. Her accomplishments as an independent, thinking machine are well documented. She sports “scripting software, a chat system, and OpenCog, an AI system designed for general reasoning”. In other words, she can chat with you on any topic, interpret ideas, and learn from one conversation to the next. 



AI experts tell us that Sophie is not conscious and is still responding based on a network of algorithms. One expert calculated her level of consciousness at about at the level of a single cell protozoa – hardly the stuff of Terminator. Deep AI is at least 200 years away, or so we are told.

I hope they told the Laws of Logarithms.

Cosmologist and theoretical physicist, Professor Stephen Hawking.
One of  the smartest people in the world warned us about AI
- photo courtesy of NASA

AI IN LAW ENFORCEMENT 

A colleague recently forwarded research on AI in Law Enforcement and it rekindled memories of those AI White Papers at the tech trade shows from not so long ago. Today they go by titles like “Artificial Intelligence and Robotics for Law Enforcement” and “Artificial Intelligence and Predictive Policing”

They are written by groups like Interpol, the UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute, and funded by groups like the US National Science Foundation, names with considerable gravitas. They take AI in law enforcement and security seriously. 

They describe new technologies, some of which echo the similar junk science and techno-gibberish I saw years ago. The technologies they describe are mostly narrow AI – voice recognition, simultaneous location and mapping software, patrol drones, and predictive policing. They barely qualify as AI. None reach Sophie’s level of sophistication. So nothing to worry about, right?


AI IN POLICING DISPATCH

Maybe…maybe not! Consider Predictive Policing. PredPol sends patrol officers to areas that it predicts will become an issue in the future. It uses weekly police calls for service to estimate where crime will happen. But calls for police service only show up in police files when residents call the police – and many minority communities will not call the police for fear or distrust. So areas of high crime, where fearful residents remain behind closed doors, never get police via PredPol since those police units will be sent elsewhere. That’s not exactly fair and equitable police services. 

To make matters worse, training for Predpol officers does not include what they should do differently when they get to the predicted crime hotspot. For example, if poor lighting is creating vulnerable areas for muggers, patrol officers are not taught Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design tactics to reduce opportunities for future assaults. Thus, if they find no one at the predicted hotspot, PredPol officers simply drive on to the next call. That’s not exactly intelligent policing, artificial or otherwise.

PredPol has even been criticized for amplifying racially biased patterns of policing... and all this considers the problems from only one form of narrow AI. Can you imagine the kinds of catastrophes that might unfold if things go wrong with immeasurably more powerful deep AI within law enforcement? 


A DEAL WITH THE DEVIL

Do law enforcement leaders dream that they can somehow control a sentient and fully conscious deep AI system that is immeasurably smarter than they are, linked globally to databases around the world, and capable of out-thinking and out-strategizing them? 

If so, watch the Academy Award-winning film Ex Machina and see how that turns out.

Some very smart people worry about the danger of deep AI – people like Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates. And in law enforcement and security, AI is the ultimate Faustian bargain! Is it really an intellectual cache worth cashing in on?


Friday, March 5, 2021

De-policing, COVID and crime - Rebuilding a great city

Denver skyline and Rocky Mountains
- photo Sheila Sund, Creative Commons

by Gregory Saville

Metro Denver is my home. As far as cities go, it’s a pretty decent place to live. On the western edge of the city lies the panoramic Rocky mountains and to the east, the Great Plains unfurl for almost a thousand miles. Metro Denver is one of the fastest-growing tech scenes in the country and it hosts the 2nd largest aerospace industry in the country. 

Yet all that means nothing if violence and crime compromise livability and street safety. So what is happening crime-wise? If we don’t know what is going on, how can we improve the quality of life?

COVID AND CRIME

The Denver Post newspaper recently used COVID and de-policing to explain crime fluctuations last year. On one hand, Denver had an explosion of homicides, from 63 in 2019 to 95 last year. On the other, certain crimes flatlined and dropped. The COVID pandemic, says the Post, did not seem to influence violent crime in the city. “Motor vehicle theft was flat before COVID, yet jumped by 37% in the 11 weeks before Floyd’s death. Larceny theft went the other direction: it was up 18% pre-COVID and then returned to 2016-19 levels.”

The Denver police Chief points to social stresses and COVID-related frustrations. "There’s a lot of negative emotion taking place out there…I think that there is some crossover into what we’re seeing in the homicide numbers. Typically, folks would resolve issues without resorting to violence."

Colorado State Capitol building in downtown Denver

Some researchers point away from social explanations and instead use the routine activity approach and crime opportunity theories (it’s easier to break into vacant stores shuttered by quarantine rules). They suggest the pandemic has impacted the routine activities of people and, therefore, crime patterns. The increase in murder, they suggest, is caused by more criminal guns on the street and fewer cops doing proactive stops to find them. Of course, if that were the case, violent crimes like robbery would be increasing. 

They aren’t. 

Since last August the Denver robbery rate has dropped.

Further, routine activity approach suggests domestic violence and sexual crimes should go up since COVID quarantines keep more people indoors. Because domestic violence incidents emanate from behind closed doors in residential areas, more opportunities should produce increases in those crimes. 

They don’t. 

In Denver, domestic violence and sexual assault have declined 16% and 39% respectively.

Routine activity is a case of wanting to have your theory-cake and eat it too. Perhaps we should rename it “the-theory-that-really-isn't-a-theory-of-some-selected-crimes-but-not-others-in-some-cities-but-not-other-cities”. 

Naw, that title doesn’t work. And that would not really be an explanatory theory but rather more of an after-the-fact travelogue of what I saw on my summer holiday. 

Post-modern downtown architecture

DE-POLICING

What about de-policing, when police retreat from proactive crime prevention due to the BLM protests and racial unrest. For some reason, newspapers equate traffic stops with “proactive crime prevention”. In any case, the Denver data shows traffic stops have little impact on overall crime. The graphic in the Denver Post article actually shows the opposite – as traffic stops decrease, so too does crime. The truth is that most crime reports emerge from after-the-fact crime reporting, not from traffic stops. 

The Denver Post article suggests there is a crisis of legitimacy between the public and the police and if people don’t trust the police, they won’t call them. If that is true, then crime rates should drop – which might explain Denver’s motor vehicle rates but not other increasing crime rates. And that brings us right back to cake-eating theory-making! Either de-policing increases crime, or it doesn’t. Or maybe it does for some crimes, in some circumstances, but not in others. Or maybe… oh, never mind.

Stick to the science. Theories need data and well-formulated hypotheses. The data suggest de-policing as a cause of crime blips does not work well. Neither does routine activity.

Higher density, transit-oriented design hub
development in Arvada, west of Denver


LOOKING ELSEWHERE

The Denver chief is probably right about social stresses from COVID cabin fever. Further, if you read this blog, you will know we've been saying for years that we must look elsewhere to explain crime blips. We need better prevention theory to rethink how we plan neighborhoods and create opportunities for healthy living that resists crime. We need more opportunities for pro-social behaviors and stronger neighborhood mediation and family support systems. We need local systems housed directly in the neighborhood where they are needed most, not centralized in city hall or police headquarters.

That falls squarely into community development and neighborhood planning more than criminology. It falls into the theory of SafeGrowth. Fortunately, some exciting new studies are recommending some new directions for researchers.

Urban green spaces between downtown towers

Martin Andresen and Tarah Hodgkinson’s latest study points the way for future academic theorizing. Their latest article, Environmental Criminology, Design and Victimization: What We Know, How We Have Failed, and Where We Need To Go, does a great job at throwing down the gauntlet for future researchers.

“If the focus of environmental criminology is to create specific and effective prevention strategies, these strategies need to be inclusive of all people. …For example, planning methodologies such as SafeGrowth integrate the learnings of environmental criminology with social and contextual concerns to create inclusive strategies with and by local residents that shift away from crime control for the few and toward inclusion, safety, and most importantly livability for the many."

Well done, Martin and Tarah, for pointing academic research towards a more productive future. We have much work to do.


Monday, February 15, 2021

From collapse to renewal - Building community in a time of chaos


The Neighborhood Has Its Own Rules by Cid Martinez

by Gregory Saville


By popular accounts, South-Central Los Angeles is a chaotic place – a place where the community has collapsed and people live in fear. A quarter-million people suffer poverty rates over 30%. Half of the city’s murders and hundreds of gang shootings emerge from South-Central. Popular films, like South-Central and Colors paint a bleak picture.

This year alone LAPD reports 100 homicides in South-Central, a homicide rate of 40 per 100,000, eight times higher than the national average and more than any other country in the world, except El Salvador.

The fact that there is gang violence and racial conflict is not news. The more interesting questions are: If neighborhood culture has collapsed, why isn’t it so much worse? How does a family even survive in such a place? Why has it been getting better over the past few decades (notwithstanding increases in homicide this past year)?

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Enlightenment philosopher,
anti-slavery activist, and humanitarian 
- Maurice de La Tour's painting of Rousseau, 1753 

Do conditions in South-Central simply reflect basic human behavior in our natural state? When the chips are down, do we just become beasts? If so, how does South-Central still survive?

Thomas Hobbes wrote that our natural state was self-serving and violent. At the moment of collapse, for example following a catastrophe, people revert to their natural “solitary, poor, nasty brutish and short” lives. 

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, on the other hand, argued the opposite – humans are basically good and, following a cultural collapse, we will end up finding ways to cohabitate. “Nothing is so gentle as man in his primitive state,” he wrote in 1754.

What does history suggest?


COLLAPSE IS NORMAL

The Golden Age of Ancient Greece lasted for centuries. That remarkable, but fatally flawed, Hellenistic society never managed to eliminate slavery or internecine conflict and they eventually gave way to the Romans. Of course, Greek city-states did not vanish and their citizens did not perish. They continued on under Roman rule until, eventually, the Roman empire collapsed. 

The Romans absorbed Greek culture, technology, and engineering, advancements we still use today. In fact, we base our contemporary democracy, science, mathematics, medicine, and philosophy on some of those early Greco-Roman discoveries.

The Acropolis in Greece
- photo by Aaron Logan, Creative Commons


People imagine the fall of the Roman empire as some cataclysmic war or conquering marauders burning Rome as Emperor Nero watched. In fact, after the Western Roman Empire faded, the Eastern Roman Empire transformed into the Byzantine Empire in Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul). And the ancestors of the Byzantine Empire became the Ottoman Empire. Today 80 million people, the progeny of those empires, live comfortably as citizens of the modern nation of Turkey.

It’s the same all over the world. Societies emerge, thrive, and collapse, but their demise does not signal a return to permanent chaos under a violent short life. Human nature is not permanently brutish.


THE PROGRESSION OF HISTORY 

Life may be brutish for a while, but history suggests Rousseau was onto something. Life doesn’t remain brutish – actually the opposite. People find a way forward. 

Consider the treatise of Harvard’s Pulitzer-winning author Steven Pinker, arguably the leading American scholar today on matters of mind and culture. His widely heralded book, Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined studies the history of violence and civilization from one era to another. In each subsequent era, he discovers the persistent decline of violence through history and the emerging civilizing effect of rational thought. 

Even today, when rational thought seems a distant dream, collapse from social chaos rarely lasts. Human nature, he says, is both brutish and beneficent at the same time. Rousseau and Hobbes were both right and wrong. 

South-central Los Angeles
- photo by Alfred Twu, Creative Commons

SOUTH-CENTRAL

That brings us back to South-Central and a marvellous book by Cid Martinez,  The Neighborhood Has Its Own Rules: Latinos and African-Americans in South Los Angeles. Martinez studied the social disorganization (and ultimately, re-organization) of cultural life in South-Central ten years following the infamous Rodney King riots. 

FLASHBACK: If you don’t recall the 1992 LA Riots, they followed video coverage of a police beating of motorist Rodney King, and the subsequent acquittal of the officers responsible. It led to days of rioting, 63 deaths, and 2,000 injuries. Hundreds of stores burned and over 12,000 people were arrested. By all accounts, society collapsed in South Central.

1992 Rodney King riots, Los Angeles
- photo by Rodney Bonilla, Creative Commons


Matinez spent a year living in South Central studying the culture and his conclusions echoed both our findings during our SafeGrowth programming and the conclusions of Pinker in Better Angels. 

He found order within the disorder. People discovered a way to be civilized when some of those around them could not. Says one reviewer: 

“Despite the many divisions that South Los Angeles residents have from each other…Martinez finds unexpected commonalities among Latin American and African-American residents. Because residents do not perceive state actors as legitimate, they turn to each other to provide social organization.” 

Martinez calls this special ordering “alternative governance” and, while it is certainly not an ideal way to run a society, as elsewhere when enough people cultivate the beneficient side to human nature they can make their community function. 

We retain this Rousseau-style lesson as a central philosophy of SafeGrowth programming. We call it the To/For/With principle and time and time again, we see people turn their own community back from the brink of crime. 

Life isn’t always, or even mostly, brutish and short. As they always have, people find a way forward.


Monday, February 8, 2021

A New Hope - America 2021

 

Post-election sentiments in America

by Tarah Hodgkinson

We are often asked why we focus our crime prevention work so intensely on small-is-beautiful versus large scale transformation. We have learned that small scale neighbourhoods, particularly disadvantaged or high crime neighbourhoods, offer the greatest potential for creating safe, cohesive, and liveable places that show how to rebuild cities in the future. 

That doesn’t mean large scale transformation isn’t possible. It just means it can be far more difficult, turbulent, and unproductive.

Consider the political, social, and cultural upheaval of the last few years in the United States. Over 400,000 people are dead due to coronavirus. Children are in cages. Domestic terrorists attacked and entered the capitol building and five people were killed. Muslims from certain countries have been banned. Rights for all kinds of groups have been reeled back. 

It has been a few weeks since America inaugurated a new leader. A subdued celebration ensued in order to keep people COVID-safe and the world went wild over a pair of handmade mittens.  

And, by most accounts, Americans let out a sigh of relief. Within hours, policy after racist policy was rolled back, with 17 executive actions signed in the first day and over 40 as of this week.


AS DIVIDED AS EVER

Nonetheless, America is as divided now as ever. This division is not new. Read back only a few decades and you will find the exact same sentiment. 

In fact, those exact words, have been written again and again over the last century. But what does this mean for America? And how do people move forward? 

We have discovered through many years of our SafeGrowth project work that progress only happens when people truly listen to each other. 

Police, residents, property owners, experts of all political stripes
collaborating in a recent SafeGrowth program


There are thousands of books, articles, and critiques on the rise of “populism.” However, these accounts often ignore the original tenets of populism: real democracy for all people. Real democracy is messy. It doesn’t involve scapegoating or hatred, but a recognition of the rights of all people. 

It seems obvious that Americans also need to take a hard look at themselves. There is an excellent scene in the HBO Series, The Newsroom when Jeff Daniels' news anchor character, Will McAvoy, is on a public stage and is asked: “Why is America the greatest country in the world?” He stuns the audience when he replies, “It isn’t! But it sure used to be”

McAvoy cites a myriad of statistics on how America fails to compete with other countries on literacy, life expectancy, infant mortality, health care, economic equality, and more (all of which - while spoken by an actor in a fictional show - are true). 


Finding solutions and common ground through small teams,
real-life problems, diverse groups and SafeGrowth skills. 

What this scene suggests is that the warnings of a crumbling American empire are also true, sentiments found in Niall Ferguson's book Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire and Chris Hedges’ Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope. 


HOPE FOR 2021

America has always been one of the most innovative and entrepreneurial countries in the world and it can innovate again. As famed American historian, Howard Zinn suggested in his book Passionate Declarations Americans need to see themselves the way much of the world does. Self-reflection is the first step in the journey of self-improvement. 

Finally, Americans need to take that reflection and get to work. This starts with the demands coming from the populists: health and education reform, economic reform, policing reform, and others. 

This will require that neighbourhood residents and leaders, like the incredible people we have met in our SafeGrowth network, continue their hard work and demand better for themselves and their communities. 

A new leader might mean new hope. But unlike the world of Star Wars, we can’t put that new hope on one Jedi’s shoulders or the magic of The Force. This must be done by people themselves. A new hope for America comes from the voices of all Americans being heard. And that starts with a small-is-beautiful approach in local neighbourhoods in the cities and towns all over the nation.