Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

First Fridays for Teens: Richmond's response to teen violence problems

Montgomery County is looking to pass a curfew law on teens because of a recent particularly violent gang incident in Silver Spring, which took hours and many police to contain.

See "Montgomery curfew controversy: How much is this about location?" from the Post, although I also mentioned in a previous entry a particularly good editorial from the Baltimore Sun, What Baltimore can teach Rockville about fighting crime: City's experience with a teen curfew (and its limited effectiveness) can inform Montgomery County's effort to reduce violent juvenile crime."

And in DC, which has a curfew law, there have been ongoing problems at Gallery Place and/or on the subway system, which has resulted in various responses by police and merchants. See "Fights, teens among challenges as D.C.'s Gallery Place entertainment area matures," Gallery Place youths say crackdown on rowdy teens affecting all," and Mosquito noise device at Gallery Place aims to annoy potential troublemakers" from the Post.

Part of the problem with organizing programs and activities for teens is that by definition developmentally, many are looking for unstructured and things to do that have limited adult supervision.

A couple months ago at a First Friday event in Richmond there were some problems at a particular event that drew many teens, some said that the police picked a fight more or less. See "Changes to First Fridays Announced After Skirmish" from the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

My initial reaction to the responses at Gallery Place was that a teen ambassador/teen ranger program should be created (they have Teen Bike Ambassadors in Minneapolis to promote biking, and somewhere, I think in Ohio, I once read about a parks and recreation program for teens that was developed and delivered by teen "rangers"), although this becomes a definite management issue, and such programs won't be able to eliminate every and all problems.

The other day another initiative was announced, a First Friday event specifically for teens, see "First Fridays Event for Teens Introduced, at CenterStage" from the RTD.

From the article:

The City of Richmond has joined with sponsors for “RVA Presents the Lounge at CenterStage,” which will feature live performances by the youth, for the youth. The event is a First Fridays for Teens.

The event will give the teens, who have been flooding First Fridays Art Walk, their own place to showcase art and express themselves. July's event brought a record attendance, with thousands of young adults present.

“The Lounge is not intended to limit our youth’s ability to mingle with other art enthusiasts, but it encourages them to expand their experience downtown and offers an alternative positive means of doing this," said Chief Norwood. The event will “Provide an outlet for teens to express themselves,” Tesha W. Davis
Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities Health Marketing and Public Relations Manager, said.

I think that's a pretty good approach. We'll see how it works out.

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