In light of this past Friday’s (July 28) misguided and tragic use of firearms– and in the name of shifting the narrative on how Rainier Beach is represented when such things occur– we asked this question at our Shifting the Narrative Community Gathering:

“How are we resolving the issues in our neighborhood in a RESTORATIVE way?”

What we heard from expert practitioners who are on the ground supporting victims of misguided firearm use was all of the ways Rainier Beach-based organizations and young people have been working with commitment, love and resolve for years to bring meaningful healing to our people. We talked about art. We talked about being good role models and leaders for the next generation. We talked about healing from trauma. We talked about how these problems were not ones that the Black and Brown folx created, but ones we have been left to fix.

We heard from wise neighborhood elders like Larry Wilmore from Fathers and Sons Together, Shantel Patu from Urban Family, and Gregory Davis from Rainier Beach Action Coalition. We heard from emerging leaders like Prince, Marisol @rainierbeachac, and Lincoln @fathersandsonstogether. We heard from noted expert practitioners like David Heppard from Freedom Project, Tom Jack from Cultured, and Deandre Charles from the Fatherhood Accountability Movement.

Something we noted was that the harm would be greater if not for the presence of the @sen_safetynet Community Safety Specialist Team @communitypassageways and @_cultured.outreach_ Critical Response Teams. The same was said about the fact that the Restorative Resolutions team had already organized this Shifting the Narrative Town Hall, which gave us an immediate opportunity to hold space for each other; space for dialogue & community healing.

Our hearts go out to everyone that was present and impacted, particularly the families who worried about their injured loved ones. Be on the lookout for the “Shifting The Narrative” campaign that will involve formal conversations with the media in order to get them to reconsider their approach when covering our neighborhood and what happens within it. Let us know if you want to join our Rapid Response citizen journalist team that will be tasked with swiftly flooding social media channels with appropriate narratives from real members of the community. We must keep working to solve these issues in a restorative way. There is no other way.