Durham Residents Call for “Harm Free Zones”

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SpiritHouse NC launches initiative to guide community-driven solutions to reduce reliance on law enforcement.

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Infographic created by SpiritHouse with Social Impact Studios

We know that racial disparities make it impossible to have safe, healthy, sustainable communities. We believe that Durham has the strength and ability to create more equitable systems that work for all its residents.

In response to growing conflict and harm in Durham, local community group SpiritHouse NC announced its new initiative called “The Harm Free Zone Project” today.

The group is highlighting what they call “A Tale of Two Durhams” – a case of racial disparities that are harmful to Durham residents. To prove their point, they provide the following comparisons (see infographic & attachment).

“We know that these racial disparities make it impossible to have safe, healthy, sustainable communities and they are harmful to all of Durham's residents,” said Nia Wilson Executive Director of SpiritHouse. “We believe that Durham has the strength and ability to create more equitable accountability systems, that work for all its residents.”

The Harm Free Zone Project will provide tools and training to help transform harm into self-directed, accountable solutions. The group’s Project goals are to:
∙    Reduce community reliance on law enforcement for security
∙    Foster intergenerational reciprocity
∙    Facilitate community-driven strategies to address conflict and violence – in all forms
∙    Uncover and document intervention practices that already exist
∙    Push for community-driven policies that emphasize health, safety & sustainability

“ We rely on guiding principles that connect health, safety and sustainability of communities to that of fully developed individuals,” said SpiritHouse member & Harm Free Zone Facilitator Mya Hunter “Communities can work together to address fundamental inequities and see how they intersect across culture and systems here in Durham. We know it’s possible to create safe and healthy places and we want to help people make it happen.”

“While our focus is within neighborhoods and schools clearly impacted by disparities…” said Bradley Long, SpiritHouse Board Chair, “…we believe that the model we are proposing accommodates multiple groups with multiple issues and provides a base for citywide campaigns.”

SpiritHouse NC launched its campaign today to announce the Harm Free Zone Project and gather support at the grassroots level. The project has already attracted the support of nationally recognized arts & social justice organization Alternate ROOTS to provide starter funds for their effort. With an initial investment of $12,500 from Alternate ROOTS, SpiritHouse hopes to double the impact with other local and national support.

Supporters can sponsor the community activities by donating through PayPal at http://www.SpiritHouse-nc.org.

About SpiritHouse NC

Since 1999, SpiritHouse NC has work with low-wealth families and community members to uncover and uproot systemic barriers that prevent long-term self-sufficiency. More information is available at: http://www.SpiritHouse-nc.org.

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Nia Wilson