Today was a full and busy day. I started the day going to the gym, and then came back to FAU just after 9. I taught my class and again it was a great session – one that the students really enjoyed because we were focusing on the Crips and Bloods in Los Angeles – looking at hw they emerged from the backdrop of the the racial oppression and segregation suffered by African Americans in LA since the turn of the last century. We looked at the way in which the original black ‘clubs’ and the work of the Black Panthers at the time of the civil rights movement of the 1960s were eventually crushed and out of the void left behind emerged the Crips and Bloods. They loved the film ‘Crips and Bloods – Made in America’ and wanted to see more of it. I then shared my research with them from Homeboy Industries and we practiced a mindfulness meditation together – since this is an intervention that is used in Homeboy Industries. we also looked at other interventions that Homeboy Industries uses including group therapy, healing circles and the basic focus on community building, love and tenderness – following the principles promoted by Father Greg Boyle.
I left class and there was a torrential storm – I got completely soaked as I crossed campus to the breezeway to buy lunch and the woman in the shop was so concerned about me she gave me a towel to dry off and let me borrow her umbrella – so kind! I then drove up to West Palm Beach, and the drive up there was not easy with rain pounding off the highway. The drivers are not used to that kind of rain and were all driving cautiously — they should see it in Scotland, this was just like a normal day in Glasgow!
I visited the Youth Empowerment Centre in WPB, where I met and interviewed the Director of the Neighbourhood Accountability Board and the Director of the Juvenile Justice Department in the city. I also got to meet a young juvenile who was visiting the complex with his dad and who has been part of the interventions that are put in place to prevent juveniles from going into the criminal justice system. I learned a lot about these interventions, many of which have a big focus on restorative justice and are helping young kids to stay out of the system. In many ways it reminded me of our own Whole System Approach in Scotland, but this was the first time I had come across this in the USA – it seems to be an innovative set of interventions based around strong partnership work between the police, the juvenile justice department and various other partners and designed to prevent the long-term consequences of juveniles picking up felonies.
I left the initiative inspired once more. I received a text on the way out from my sister Lyn to say that she and my mum had landed in Orlando – so, at last, part of my family will be with me tomorrow …