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Making Redding A Beloved City

Photo of April LaFrance by Rick Bonetti

Photo of April LaFrance by Rick Bonetti

Rocky Slaughter was correct when he posted on Facebook “…2014 is the most significant year for change in Redding I have ever seen. The Safe City Project presentation tonight was the most forward thinking, diplomatic, level headed, straight-to-the-point discussion…”

I didn’t agree with all of the 11 “solutions”, points-of-view or priorities presented at the Safe City Project on November 13, 2014, but I was encouraged by the generally positive tone and civility of both the audience and presenters and what I see as a creative, “populist initiative” to get beyond the negative, “get tough on crime” rhetoric and surly mood of the previous Town Hall meeting and the recent Redding Council election. The graphic slogans posted on Facebook on November 11-13 are inspiring.

I arrived at the Redding Civic at 6:30 PM when the Auditorium was starting to fill and a few gentle souls I talked with were already leaving, because they “did not like the ominous vibe set by the sounds of taser demonstrations and home/personal security vendor displays – at least there were no gun sales!

Encouragingly, most people in the audience raised their hand when Founder and MC April LaFrance asked if they feel very safe or relatively safe; only a very few felt personally threatened!

So is it possible that while some businesses are understandably tired of dealing with crime and the effects of alcohol/drug use near them, that the regular stream of “most wanted” photographs and emails from Redding Crime Watch plus crime reporting in the daily newspaper serves to heightens a perception of that Redding is unsafe and fearful?

Rather than just focusing on crime and making Redding safer (yes, that’s an important goal), I would prefer a broader objective of improving the well-being of all who live in Shasta County. Cycles of poverty, lack of good jobs, broken/violent households, illiteracy, poor education, etc. are systemic causes of crime.

If we scapegoat all homeless persons as criminals, not from the community and not part of “us”(those people, the “other”), we dehumanize them and ourselves and will fail to take appropriate comprehensive actions. Let’s also not loose sight of those nurturing factors that make a city lovable: social offerings, openness and aesthetics.

Redding is a great place to call home and we deter positive growth if we overemphasize problems and have low community self-esteem.

Here are the 11 “Solutions” proposed by the Safe City Project (not in order of presentation or priority):

  1. Reserve Police
  2. Neighborhood Turn Around
  3. Code enforcement & Calls for Service
  4. Sobering Center
  5. Community Court
  6. Jail Annex Renovation
  7. Work Camp
  8. Expand Successful Rehab & Mental Health Counseling
  9. Reclaiming Spaces from Illegal Encampments
  10. Homeward Bound
  11. Coordination of Churches & Charities

If you missed the Thursday evening event you can read the flow on Twitter with hashtag #SafeRedding (thanks to several excellent Record Searchlight reporters) or watch Part I and Part II of the YouTube videos uploaded by the Record Searchlight.

Take the How to pay for the Safe City Project survey online – prioritize what you believe is most important and how you think we should pay for it.

Like Rocky, I am hopeful in our citizen’s creativity and initiative and the wisdom of our newly elected public representatives.

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