by Tarah Hodgkinson
We have written extensively on this blog, and elsewhere about the importance of the “third place”. In Ray Oldenburg’s work The Great Good Place, Oldenburg discusses the importance of the third place: Third places are spaces other than home (first place) and work (second place) where folks can meet, gather, connect and build social cohesion. He names several types of third places including cafes, hair salons, barbershops, pubs, libraries, bookshops and more that are at the heart of any great community. These are spaces that people can spend lots of unstructured time in without having to spend much money.
In the wake of COVID-19 many of these local places are starting to disappear. Unable to keep up with the rising costs of rolling lockdowns and having to restrict the number of patrons, many of these establishments have either limited the time you can spend in them or been shuttered altogether. This has led to several issues including vacant storefronts, reducing foot traffic and eyes on the street, and increasing monopolies of these spaces by large corporations that are less interested in creating a space for their neighbours and building community cohesion.
We know that social cohesion relies on third places to bring together people together. We also know that a lack of these places, can reduce social cohesion and increase risks of crime. Never has that been a more prominent issue, than during a pandemic when we are literally more separated than ever before.
However, there are some shining rays of hope in neighbourhoods around the globe. In Brisbane, Australia for example, a small café called the Red Bowler, feels exactly like a third place. Here, the café is not only a place to grab a coffee and a bite to eat, but the staff also know the locals, regulars sit down at comfy couches near you to strike up a conversation and the owners hold weekly events including movie nights, live music, and even mobile dog washes. No one is rushed out and as a result, the community builds.
This is just one example of a commitment to create places that are neutral, inclusive and a home away from home. As we continue to emerge from the seemingly endless impact of COVID-19 on our everyday lives, it is more important than ever that we revive and support these third places. They are the neighbourhood cornerstones of connection that will help us to not only recover but thrive again as communities.
by Gregory Saville
It is always difficult to know when a good idea in one place is a good idea in another. Some things, like vaccines or mobile phones, transport easily from one culture to another. Covid vaccines from a few countries are now deployed all around the world in all countries and, thankfully, they save billions of lives for those wise enough to take them.
What about neighborhood programs in crime prevention?
Over the past year and a half myself and some of our talented SafeGrowth experts have been working in Helsingborg, Sweden to help residents and officials craft SafeGrowth to their city. It all began two years ago when I delivered a keynote address to the H22 Smart City Expo – a Swedish event to announce their 2022 world exposition of all things futuristic and technological in 21st Century cities.
The Smart City movement is the amalgam of Artificial Intelligence and high technology to all aspects in the operation of city life. My point was that you cannot have a Smart City if you do not have a Safe City.
SafeGrowth training began last year with local neighborhood Engagement Coordinators who, under the on-scene leadership of SafeGrowth expert Mateja Mihinjac, learned the model and began testing it themselves. With the help of our newest SafeGrowth star – Iman Abbas, who is based in Helsingborg – high school students conducted SafeGrowth fear and perception GPS mapping. Then, over the past few months, I worked with Iman and Mateja to train three teams of residents and city officials from the neighborhood of Drottninghög (I’m still practicing my Swedish pronunciation).
This past week the three teams delivered their plans for moving forward to dozens of officials, residents, and students attending their presentations.
What an outstanding event! I was witness to fantastic audience response. I saw broad smiles on the faces of the Drottninghög SafeGrowth graduates as they presented the success of their hard work over the past months.
CO-CREATING SAFE PLACES
Drottninghög now has a number of plans for safety and community engagement in different parts of the neighborhood – some projects involving placemaking around a community garden and others focused on building social cohesion between the immigrant population and Swedish residents.
Their project style included residents working alongside officials and experts. This is appropriate since the H22 Expo theme assigned to Drottninghög is ‘co-creation’ They produced a video describing their co-creation philosophy.
They are now embarking upon months of further planning as they begin to implement their plans. They want to expand their work to more projects in their community and now there is a discussion about expanding their work to other neighborhoods.
HELSINGBORG & THE CPTED CONFERENCE
Next week the Helsingborg SafeGrowth teams will present their preliminary work at the International CPTED Association virtual conference co-sponsored by Helsingborg. Their presentations are viewable to conference participants on Wednesday, Nov 3 at 3:45 PM Swedish time (11:45 AM Eastern Standard Time).
Next year, they will present their results to the world at the H22 Smart City Expo in Helsingborg. Well done to our Helsingborg friends. These are exciting times in Sweden!
POST SCRIPT: SINCE THIS BLOG WAS POSTED, THIS KEYNOTE PRESENTATION WAS PUBLISHED BY THE ICA HERE.
by Gregory Saville
A man walks through a public plaza on a pleasant Sunday afternoon and passes by a CCTV. Minutes later he is arrested by police on suspicion of a crime that, in fact, he did not commit. The man is African American. and, unfortunately, facial recognition software on the CCTV is vulnerable to false positives.
A predictive policing algorithm sends police patrols to the same neighborhood for the sixth week in a row to prevent crimes that have not yet occurred. Based on mathematics from earthquake prediction, this algorithm is hardly the best model for predicting human behavior and crime. It has no way to know that residents of this disenfranchised neighborhood are utterly fed up with over-policing, especially when the police don’t actually do anything except show up in their patrols cars.
I blogged on these stories earlier this year.
The stories are real and they reflect real events. Unfortunately, according to experts, predictive policing algorithms have serious problems with over-policing minority areas. The Los Angeles Police Department is the latest agency to abandon their PredPol programs (they claim it is due to Covid). Similarly, scientists specializing in evaluation have also criticized facial recognition software. They claim it cannot accurately read facial characteristics of black men!
These stories reflect the threat of introducing Artificial Intelligence into crime prevention. Thus far, at least with CPTED, things in the AI world are not going well.
THE 2021 ICA CPTED CONFERENCE
On Nov 3, I will deliver a keynote address to the 2021 International CPTED Association virtual conference, hosted by Helsingborg, Sweden, the Safer Sweden Foundation, and the International CPTED Association. It will be the first ICA conference since the last pre-COVID event a few years ago. The topic of my keynote is Artificial Intelligence, Smart Cities, and CPTED – An existential threat to the ICA.
Based on my own experience with a tech start-up company a decade ago, and an experiment with some predictive critical infrastructure CPTED software, I came upon some fascinating books on AI. One, in particular, AI 2041 by Kai-Fu Lee and Chen Quifan, describes how AI will infiltrate all aspects of urban life – health, transport, schools, entertainment, crime prevention, and safety. They tell us there will be no part of the future city without AI. This is especially the case with the Smart City movement in which scientists and planners envision a city embedded with AI.
THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE
What happens when AI systems go wrong? Artificial Intelligence is at the apex of new technologies and the implications for CPTED are significant.
AI is a potential threat of a higher order. It is a case of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice: An independent system that analyses problems and makes decisions using machine learning instructions independent from us. But when things go inevitably wrong, we end up scrambling like mad to stop the damage from unintended consequences (eg: false arrests and over-policing).
If you’re interested in this topic in more detail, come to the 2021 ICA CPTED CONFERENCE, which runs from Nov 2 – 4 as a virtual conference. The dynamic conference program has dozens of sessions on crime prevention and CPTED from around the world. My keynote runs on Nov 3 at 9:20 – 9:45 PM Central European Time (1:20 – 1:45 AM Mountain Time). A recording of the conference for registrants will be made available for later watching for those who are asleep in their time zones. POST SCRIPT; THIS PRESENTATION IS HERE.
by Mateja Mihinjac
As a CPTED professional, I experience the socio-physical environment in a more critical and analytical way than a general person. I observe features that may stimulate pro-social conduct as well as those that may offer opportunities for undesirable behaviour or even promote risk for users of those spaces. And yet, the decisions concerning the planning of public space are not straightforward.
Public benches represent one such conundrum. I’ve written previously that knee jerk reactions, such as removal of public benches, are common in an attempt to eliminate social problems such as unwanted loitering, sleeping on public benches, or vandalism.
Yet these decisions often come with the realisation that they don’t address the problem but rather displace it. They become tools of exclusion.
Can a humble public bench become a tool of inclusion?
MORE THAN A BENCH
As Kelsey I. Sagrero writes in her thesis Socializing Public Space: Benches in the Urban Setting, a bench can be more than just a bench. When planned with its function in mind, it can be a tool that attracts people and promotes social interaction in public spaces. Thus, she writes, we should make benches an intentional part of social spaces in which they are situated to promote social interaction and inclusivity of diverse groups. As such, a bench represents an important part of public social life.
One such initiative comes from the UK with strategically placed “Happy to chat” benches. The purpose of those benches is to promote conversation for their users and address the problem of loneliness and alienation, especially amongst the elderly.
In my exploration of the City of Helsingborg, Sweden, I also came across some interesting examples of benches that instantly attracted my attention.
The first was pride rainbow benches painted ahead of the 2021 Helsingborg Pride Festival. The purpose of the benches was to demonstrate that expression of diversity and inclusion are not limited to the LGBTQ community alone and are an important conversation starter in urban space.
The second was yellow friendship benches situated in different areas around the city. They attracted my attention with their happy bright yellow colour and a sign “A hello can save a life”. These benches intend to raise awareness of mental illness and suicide and to offer support through care and respect for one another through informal interpersonal conversations.
As these public benches have become places for promoting social interaction and conversations, and thus a form of third places, they have also become tools of social messaging that reflects societal struggles and sentiments and advances the conversation on important topics such as diversity, inclusion, and mental health.
It's fascinating how a humble piece of street furniture can serve such an important social role in public life.
by Tarah Hodgkinson
There are many ways a community can celebrate culture and come together, even if briefly, to share a sense of togetherness. Fireworks have the power to do this in a collective moment of joy and fun.
I had the opportunity to enjoy Riverfire this week here in Brisbane. Riverfire is a fireworks show celebrating the conclusion of the Brisbane Festival, a large, three-week art festival held annually in September across the city.
The fireworks show was fantastic. But what was even more fantastic was the way in which it brought people together.
There have been many critiques about fireworks over the years. These include concerns about air and noise pollution, animal welfare, possible injury (particularly for men), and even fires. The last one is particularly concerning in Australia that has been suffering severe bushfires for many years.
In Canada, many have also critiqued the celebration of national holidays like Canada Day, particularly this year, in the wake of the discovery of almost a thousand Indigenous children’s graves.
Many of these criticized celebrations include fireworks. All of these critiques are valid. Indeed, we need to think critically about how fireworks can be used safely and honourably. These considerations not only include where but also when fireworks are appropriate.
But after two years residing in a foreign country, separated from family and friends, and watching the horrors of an international pandemic unfold, I was ready for some fireworks.
Fireworks are meant to elicit joy and bring us together for a moment of excitement and wonder as thousands of tiny colourful sparks light up the sky. They are an effective way to celebrate culture, collective identity and social cohesion – goals we all share in our communities.
by Gregory Saville
This city was once one of my favorites. Even today, there are still great, and well-used, neighborhood parks. Nature here is spectacular with nearby rivers, lush forests, and a Pacific Ocean coast an hour or so drive. Yet, all is not well in this once spectacular city.
Portland, Oregon is applauded in urban planning for its efficient public transit, beautiful architecture, and a famous urban growth boundary that preserved farms and forests alike.
Portland was a model for America and here on SafeGrowth we have posted blogs on neighborhood innovations that show how neighborhood planning can work, such as the Intersection Repair program.
Sadly, no more. I spent a week there recently co-teaching SafeGrowth and discovered something is catastrophically wrong in Portland. I truly hope it does not portend the decline of that great city. I hope it is not a bellwether for other cities.
WHAT IS GOING ON?
As in all major cities in the U.S., crime, especially homicide, is increasing. Homicides have been increasing yearly in Portland for 5 years (the police defunding movement cannot claim full responsibility).
Homelessness has never been worse. Downtown streets are lined with boarded-up buildings, vacant properties, and addicts on seemingly every corner. It looks like the beginning of the worst years in Detroit!
How did this happen? For starters, consider 100 straight days of protests and riots in 2020. Then add racial unrest and anti-police protests. Throw in COVID shutdowns and economic strife and a persistent inability to respond effectively to street homelessness, mental illness and substance abuse. This is a perfect storm for urban decline.
Our work there has just begun and the Portlanders engaged in the SafeGrowth crime prevention work are impressive and dedicated to making things better. I’m curious to see how much help they get from other organizations. They have plenty of conceptual crime prevention tools and a system for tackling the big issues. But they are just getting started and there is much work to do.
In the meantime, there are so many critical questions to consider: How to respond to mental illness? How to tame the rash of shootings? How to provide humane and effective services to the homeless? How to reclaim downtown Portland for all Portlanders?
WHAT OF THE POLICE?
One of those critical questions involves the Portland Police.
I have worked for three decades to reform the police academy curriculum toward the 21st Century. I have co-written books on the deficiencies in police training, patrol, hiring, and supervision. I have co-written, with my colleague Gerard Cleveland, OpEds in the Denver Post newspaper describing what should be done.
As Jane Jacobs said, as necessary as police are, they cannot control crime without the intricate, almost unconscious network of voluntary social controls among people themselves (in other words, SafeGrowth). But her injunction deliberately attaches the phrase "the police - as necessary as they are." So what is happening to the necessary role of police in Portland?
THE STREET REALITY
Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell says his force now has less than 40 officers patrolling the streets each night and, according to CNN "he doesn't think that is nearly enough to deal with the increased violence. During one weekend, his department had over 1,200 calls for help.”
Is he right, I wondered? As a former police planner, I slipped back into my habit of crunching the numbers:
Of course, that only works if Portland police use single-officer patrols and not two-officer patrols (I have no clue which they use). Further, many of those 25 calls require two officers to attend (car crashes with injuries, bar fights, etc). What does that do to the bottom line?
What do we know about the geography of policing in Portland?
IS THIS ALL THAT MATTERS?
Admittedly, this back-of-the-envelope calculation is probably too conservative. But it is a best-case result and to leaders and citizens alike, it should pose an alarming question: Is there really only 1 officer available for every 14.5 square miles in Portland during busy weekends?
If so, no wonder the Portlanders I spoke to complained about a complete absence of police. After all, if Portland cops are not already on a call, then they are spread so thin it is unlikely the dispatch supervisor can afford to send them to anything but the most serious offenses.
Do Portland residents no longer have a police department able to do its job! If so, then who is responding to the drug dealing, street assaults, robberies, sexual crimes, and so forth?
Is this call-ratio/quality-of-police response all that matters? No. But it is enough to get started.
SafeGrowth can make a major impact on community engagement. And there are many reasons to reform the police. But stripping down your emergency response to almost zero? Does that really make sense? What are the alternative emergency response options? I know of attempts to create small special response units. I know the recent trend is to pair officers with social workers in cars.
But, let’s be frank. These are piecemeal answers. There are better ways to solve problems, better training methods, better leadership styles, and better ways to govern police.
Today Portland suffers. The residents, minority groups, the disenfranchised, and the police themselves, deserve better!
by Mateja Mihinjac
At its core, SafeGrowth builds on the environmental philosophy of Smart Growth urban planning, a concept that aims to restructure the way we plan cities to improve sustainability, livability, and public health.
Over the past century, the urban structure of cities has undergone some dramatic changes. With the emergence of motor vehicles, space originally intended for pedestrians became increasingly smaller and vehicle use increased, adding vast amounts of pollution into the air. It also decreased the amount of walking, which affected public health.
One strategy to transform these trends is the 15-minute city philosophy, where people have easy walking or biking access to services and amenities within 15 minutes of their residence. The concept of 15-minute cities was first laid out in the Congress for New Urbanism Smartcode, twenty years ago. More recently Mayor Anne Hidalgo adopted it as part of her re-election bid in Paris.
Unfortunately, efforts to adopt these alternative modes of transportation have not come without their own challenges, one example being the growing popularity of e-scooters that have dominated the streets of many cities since 2017.
In a very short time, the use of e-scooters has surged and many cities allowed e-scooter start-up companies to set up shop. However, while loved by some, the scooters are hated by others.
One of major drawbacks of e-scooters appears to be their major advantage – the ability to leave scooters anywhere without having to park them. This flexible use has popularised their use but also led to conflict between different traffic groups. While prohibited on main roads or bike lanes, many e-scooter riders choose to ride on sidewalks, prompting concerns for pedestrian territory being under assault.
Further, e-scooters can reach speeds of 25km/h and that has led to an increased number of injuries of both riders and passers-by. Another issue is “scooter pollution” - scooters often block the already limited sidewalk space and thus obstruct mobility for other groups of users. This has led to the introduction of parking fines for scooters in some cities while other cities have completely prohibited parking of scooters in their city core.
The result is a conflict between start-up companies that offer scooters and municipalities that think scooters should be banned from their streets. However, scooter users cannot park where such infrastructure does not yet exist. Clearly, there are unsolved implementation snags.
Are there solutions that could preserve this mode of transportation rather than simply eliminate it? 15-minute cities need alternative transport options so there must be solutions.
Industry leaders themselves acknowledge that it is time to rethink the model and build public-private partnerships that can help develop more effective and sustainable solutions.
If municipalities adopt a 15-minute philosophy, they also need to invest in redesigning urban infrastructure, such as e-scooter parking. The complete streets initiative offers one such approach that envisions wider pedestrian and bike lanes. In this case, the issue is not whether to allow e-scooters, but that sidewalks have become increasingly smaller at the expense of car lanes, which creates additional conflicts.
Others suggest that more emphasis should be on shared lanes for different types of users while increasing heightened awareness for the safety of those users.
Charging docking stations are another possible solution to the “scooters-on-the-loose” problem. Not only could they reduce the issue of loose scooters, but they would also reduce operational expenses and reduce reliance on gig economy workers (such as informal, temporary workers who hunt wayward scooters and charge them for a fee), and scooters damaged during transport.
Docking stations would also increase the availability of scooters to their users and reduce the environmental impact needed to transport scooters for charging.
Innovative technological companies have offered many ideas for these stations, which could leverage existing city utilities and infrastructure (e.g., bus stops) or become situated adjacent to bike parking corrals found in almost every street corner. Sweden has already made progress with the Street Moves project that plans a parklet with a mobility hub placed on every street by 2030.
These novel ideas offer a different way to encourage the shift to a new urban structure. They can help to better integrate e-scooters in multi-modal mobility networks where scooters don’t become a nuisance for municipalities but an alternative mode of transportation integral to the regular transport network.
by Tarah Hodgkinson
The nature of security has changed dramatically in the 21st century. This is largely due to the changing nature of harm, changes that have significant implications for policing and security. In a recent discussion with colleague and renowned criminologist Professor Clifford Shearing, we explored his leading research on 21st-century “harmscapes” and what he calls evolving securities.
What does this mean?
In the last year alone, we have seen an expansion of policing into public health related to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have seen the devastating effects of climate disasters, which threaten food and water supplies and threaten physical security and safety around the world. We are seeing cyber-attacks on banking systems that require extensive knowledge of technology. The nature of harm is changing and so is the security needed to address it.
Professor Shearing and other researchers from the Evolving Securities Initiative have been exploring case studies like these to better understand the interaction of humans and the earth and the role that will play in the future of safety and liveability. This work recognizes the importance of social ecology – a core tenant of the SafeGrowth philosophy – and how the biosphere, lithosphere, atmosphere, and humans interact to create and address these harmscapes.
Policing researchers (myself included) need to recognize the expanding role of policing and security. What does this mean for governance and safety? How does power function in these newly emerging organizations? How will we partner with practitioners in these new organizations to improve the safety and liveability of 21st-century communities?
It is no longer appropriate to see policing as something done only by police agencies. There are multiple actors and regulatory bodies that “police” these emerging harmscapes. It means the way we research and understand these evolving securities must change.
by Gregory Saville
I recently spoke to some senior administrators about Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) and how they might use it to cut crime. They knew a little about the concept, but it was clear that they had been victims of fake news. It brought to mind an old question in philosophy: What does authentic actually mean? Why should you care?
You should care because many of the ingredients that flavor a high-quality life depend on authentic products, systems, and technologies that we now take for granted. Consider food and water. Governments regulate and inspect our food/water supply and require that those who produce or ship it must follow standards of hygiene and public health.
Millions of deaths throughout history were caused by infected food or unregulated water systems that transmitted diseases like typhoid. Today, mass deaths from food or water are rare in most of the developed world and, thankfully, increasingly rare in the undeveloped world. Authentic public health matters.
It’s the same in crime prevention. Authenticity matters a great deal for your own livability.
CPTED AND AUTHENTICITY
How does one determine authentic CPTED and effective crime prevention?
Dictionaries describe authenticity as something supported by unquestionable evidence and verified and accepted as real “because of agreement with known facts or experience.”
There is a great Ted Talk by Daniel Levitin, a neuroscientist and cognitive psychologist, who describes ways to compare authentic facts from fake news. I have drawn on some tips from Dr. Levitin, and applied them to crime prevention and CPTED:
“LIES ARE TUCKED INTO THE TRUTH”
Early writing about CPTED described cutting hedges for better visibility and territorial markers to help residents control their own properties. That was 50 years ago and crime prevention science has learned much since then. CPTED has grown up. It now includes 2nd Generation CPTED to build community cohesion and pro-social activities. CPTED is no longer just surveillance, blight removal or painting murals to enhance community pride. If you want to know the latest, go to the website of the only non-profit, professional and international organization for CPTED – the International CPTED Association (ICA), or the regional affiliate chapters of the ICA.
“WEBSITES MASQUERADE UNDER MISLEADING NAMES”
When searching online for CPTED expertise or training be careful to locate names, bios and expertise of those behind the website or delivering the course. If you cannot easily find those names, bios, or expertise - in plain view - go elsewhere. Never assume because the website claims it is a “national” center or it provides “certification” that is true. Check to see if they are affiliated with the ICA. Check to see if that site is for-profit, or non-profit. Follow the money!
Does that website provide the names of a diverse group of experts with a wide variety of experience, because that is how CPTED actually works. Otherwise, you are probably dealing with a small group of for-profit consultants – usually retired police or security. Don’t misunderstand; I have no problem with for-profit consultants with policing, criminology or urban planning expertise (I am one of them!) But, they come with different qualities, experiences and reputations. As they say – caveat emptor.
“CLAIMS THAT REST ON FALSE SOURCES”
The problem in CPTED today is “authorities” who do not read the source material or the related scientific research. They make wild claims like “lighting prevents crime”. It doesn’t! With the right research and in the right context, it might help! But that’s far from a done deal. Or they offer inauthentic facts and claim “eyes on the street” cut crime. Strategies like natural surveillance or even CCTV might help in the right location, with the right pre-diagnosis. But that is not a definitive fact. Claiming otherwise is not only inauthentic, it’s wrong.
If you want authentic expertise, read historical bibliographies of the science, read the latest studies, or ask a formally certified CPTED practitioner who holds a professional certification from the ICA. Embrace authenticity.
by Gregory Saville
Twenty-five years ago I participated in an experiment. Paul Wong, Barry Davidson, and I decided to sponsor an international conference on crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED). We had no idea if it would work, a vague hope that something bigger would come out of it, but no guarantee that anything would occur.
We met in Calgary with 70 other CPTED acolytes including (among others) Stan and Sherry Carter from Florida, Tim Pascoe from the UK, Tom McKay from Peel Region in Ontario, Patricia and Paul Brantingham from Burnaby, BC, Mike Sheard and Brian Foote from Vancouver. The International CPTED Association (ICA) grew out of that conference.
This year the ICA celebrates its 25th Anniversary with hundreds of members all over the world. The current ICA President is from Chile, the Vice President from South Africa, the Executive Director is from Slovenia, the Secretary, and Treasurer from Canada and Board members from the U.S., Australia, India, Malaysia, Ecuador, Denmark, the Netherlands, Britain, Mexico, and New Zealand.
But things were not always so rosy and, like CPTED, the ICA ebbed and flowed with the political currents of the day. The ICA was born following a period of criminological research in the 1980s, some of which led to new ideas like situational crime prevention and environmental criminology, and others that led to the broken windows theory and routine activities theory.
HOT AND COLD RESEARCH
Some of that research was revolutionary: Situational crime prevention gave us practical prevention strategies; environmental criminology showed how crime clusters along pathways and urban nodes; the geography of crime described crime hotspots.
But not all new theories were helpful. Some were Mr. Potato Head theories – full of holes and bland in taste. Others were saturated with fancy euphemisms that complicated simple ideas. Yet others removed the social aspects of CPTED and replaced them with target hardening.
Then there was broken windows theory, which some consider CPTED. Broken windows transformed into zero-tolerance enforcement – a controversial police enforcement tactic for anti-social behavior. Broken windows back-fired spectacularly, especially politically. While it cut crime in New York, crime also declined by the same rate in San Diego with zero broken windows tactics. Broken windows tainted the original CPTED message. Even today, unwitting activists still claim broken windows is CPTED.
Broken windows co-creator, Professor George Kelling, once told me he could not fathom how his theory went so far off track. In my view, broken windows ended in the hands of police managers suffering institutional autism – an inability to communicate outside their profession and themselves. Distortion comes easy to those who do not read history. The same thing happened in CPTED when practitioners, falling victim to slipshod assertions, adopted target hardening and CCTV cameras and ignored the social world where crime actually happens.
THE ICA AS OCCAM’S RAZOR
Fortunately, the ICA is a practitioner-oriented organization more interested in what works than what sounds good, a kind of self-correcting organizational Occam’s Razor. In the early 2000s, it began introducing more holistic strategies, such as certification programs. ICA conferences travelled from Canada and the U.S. to Australia, the Netherlands, Chile, and Mexico.
Within a decade the ICA had online training resources and a network of experts around the world. Gerard Cleveland and myself introduced 2nd Generation CPTED at ICA conferences in 1997 and 1998, which brought social factors back into CPTED. Since 2017 the ICA has dramatically expanded with webinars, course accreditation, online masterclasses, newsletters, white papers, and new guidebooks. This past year the International Standards Organization published the first-ever CPTED ISO, which ICA members helped to create. In short, the ICA is flourishing.
AND WHAT ABOUT CPTED...?
In some places today CPTED remains mired in target hardening – a buffet of lights, locks, and cameras with hedge trimming for flavor. Poorly trained practitioners still use these methods to exclude groups, thereby promoting what is called ‘hostile architecture'. Social activists have caught on and, rather than figure out the true nature of CPTED and how hostile practices deviate, they label all CPTED as racist using the same biased reasoning that they blame on CPTED practitioners.
In truth, the ICA has a formal code of ethics opposing hostile architecture. Sadly, too many CPTED practitioners are not ICA certified, not all courses are ICA accredited and they are not required to follow the ICA code of ethics. As they say, caveat emptor (let the buyer beware).
In other places, CPTED has grown into community-planning practices called SafeGrowth. On this blog, you will find a rich history of neighborhood development, community-building with social and economic programs, and personal development through neighborhood programs like Livability Academies. Both 1st and 2nd Generation CPTED play a role in SafeGrowth, but the quality of life (what 3rd Generation CPTED called neighborhood livability) plays a bigger role.
Happy 25th birthday to the International CPTED Association!
If you want to learn more about the ICA, or attend the 25th Anniversary ICA virtual conference, Nov 2-4, 2021, check out their website.
by Tarah Hodgkinson
North Battleford (NB), a city of 14,000 in Saskatchewan, has since 2009 held the title for the “crime capital of Canada” with the highest crime severity index (CSI) in the country. This led to a flurry of media coverage trying to understand how this small community could be so dangerous.
Throughout this period, Herb Sutton and Ryan Mackrell, crime prevention advocates, residents, and SafeGrowth practitioners, were on the ground working to figure out what was happening and how to fix it. Enlisting my help, we conducted a city-wide survey of crime and victimization.
Findings showed that residents generally felt safe. Violent victimization was low, and property crime was the most common issue. Residents identified a few areas in NB that felt unsafe but generally, they liked their community.
HIGH CSI BUT LOW VICTIMIZATION?
So, what was happening in North Battleford? Why was the CSI so high if victimization was relatively low and people felt safe?
Unlike crime rates that simply divide the total number of crimes by the population and multiply by 100,000, the CSI assigns a “statistical weighting” based on the seriousness of each crime included in the numerator.
Serious crimes like assault and homicide are weighted more heavily; for example, one homicide is weighted the same as 306 assaults. Apparently, this allows for a comparison of crime seriousness across the country.
However, like crime rates, the CSI is also impacted by population size. In technical terms, the total crime severity of all crimes, divided by low population size, is going to produce a higher crime severity index. It’s simple math. Just look at the highest crime severity indices for last year. Every one of them is a small community.
What does this mean for NB? First, they were labelled as the crime capital. That meant they had to fight a national stigma. Second, they still had very little information on which problems they might actually need to address. They had run a SafeGrowth training course in their city to analyse how to create more effective safety planning. But that didn’t change the government statistical reporting problems.
A NEW STATISTICAL TOOL
Enter the crime location quotient (LQ). The location quotient addresses some of the limitations of population-based statistics. LQs do not suffer from the same issue of population size. Instead, LQs use total crime for the area rather than population figures and they produce a figure for crime specialization. For example, assaults within NB, can be compared against assaults for the province of Saskatchewan, as a whole. The LQ addresses areas that are over or under-represented for certain crime types.
This allows practitioners to better understand which types of crime might be a concern (which type of crime specialization appears in their community) and how this specialization compares to other communities.
I conducted these LQ comparisons in a recent article in the Canadian Geographer and demonstrated that in 2018, similar to other years, North Battleford did not specialize in violent crime compared to the other 14 municipalities in Saskatchewan. In fact, when examining violent crime, non-violent crime, and eight crime types, NB specialized only in mischief.
While NB has held the record for “crime capital” since 2009, when using a geographical measure of crime (LQ), North Battleford drops to 12th place for violent crime and 3rd place for non-violent crime in Saskatchewan. Furthermore, in 2018, NB is under-represented for violent crime, assault, break and enter, theft of motor vehicle, and very under-represented for sexual assault.
THE RELEVANCE OF CSI
Is the CSI an inappropriate measure for understanding crime in Canada? My study questions its relevance. While the CSI offered another way to look at crime, its limitations have serious unintended consequences. Unlike what the CSI claims, this LQ study demonstrates that NB is not particularly “dangerous.”
The labelling of a small community like NB as the “crime capital” of Canada has damaging implications for the people who live there. It stigmatizes the community and disempowers local residents. My research suggests the media characterization of NB is largely unwarranted.
Lately, the media has turned to another Canadian community – Thompson, Manitoba – and they now claim that is the new “crime capital”. To residents and policy-makers in Thompson and elsewhere in Canada: Please consider carefully the weight, and truth, of such statistical statements. Instead, we suggest it is better to spend time and resources seeking out more effective methods of local capacity-building and neighborhood resilience.
by Mateja Mihinjac
On June 1 of this year, 4265 tiny Slovenian flags appeared in the capital’s city park. The flags symbolised the number of lives lost in the preceding 12-months from the day the military jets flew over the country to celebrate the presumed “victory” over COVID. It was the day the Slovenian government declared the end of the epidemic following what the government claims were only 108 COVID-related deaths. Little were we prepared for what followed.
The sight of all those flags made me reflect with sadness on the unprecedented crisis over the past year. It also reminded me of the importance of local trust in governance – and good governance itself – to support the nation in times of crisis.
In the SafeGrowth movement, we put emphasis on building local trust and we teach problem-solving and community development with diverse teams within each neighbourhood. The goal is to promote democratic neighbourhood self-governance with the objective of creating safe, liveable, inclusive, and cohesive neighbourhoods.
Our focus is on individual neighbourhoods at a micro-scale. But this process can be difficult when there are large, macro-scale obstacles halting progress – such as poor governance and an intense distrust of those who govern.
I have blogged regarding public concerns about the Slovenian government and the misuse of powers during the crisis some months ago. While the current crisis has deepened distrust, for over a decade 80% of Slovenians have indicated low levels of trust in the national government and its legitimacy.
The OECD also reported a significant 20% drop in trust in Slovenian governance between 2006 and 2017. Conversely, in that same period, Poland, (also a post-communist country like Slovenia), has observed a 42% increase in trust. Clearly, there are things governments can do to create conditions of trust.
Low trust in Slovenia has been attributed to the perception of poor integrity, transparency, and fairness. According to OECD’s findings, the Slovenian government is much less open compared to other OECD countries, which impacts the levels of institutional trust.
When it comes to a functioning democracy, trust matters a great deal. It has been common to hear accusations that national governments have acted abusively and granted themselves special powers beyond those necessary to address the pandemic. Those accusations now have support from research that confirmed this creeping threat to democratic countries.
How do we move forward in such times?
As anthropologist Margaret Mead said, thoughtful and committed citizens are the key to progress. Others have added that organised collective action is just as paramount:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, organized citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”
I recently witnessed some bright moments of democracy prevailing. Just this past weekend an overwhelming 86% of voters rejected the new Slovenian Waters Act due to provisions that would permit construction in the areas where it could threaten natural drinking resources. The referendum – with the second-highest turnout in Slovenian history – succeeded due to extensive efforts and organised action by citizens and civic organisations.
Some issues also require democratic actions on a local neighbourhood level.
For example, very recently, in my local village, a group from the local community worked together to demand the removal of the company responsible for illegal waste storage in the neighbourhood. It demanded immediate action and the residents organised a news conference with attendance from the mayor, representatives of companies responsible for the waste, and the news networks. This collective action prompted the government to act.
The way forward is a commitment to change coupled with organised action. Those are excellent ways to address both macro and micro issues. This reaffirms our SafeGrowth philosophy that an organised approach by informed and engaged local citizens is the key to forward momentum and effective problem-solving with communities large and small.
GUEST BLOG - Lilit Houlder is an urban planner working with a consulting firm in Edmonton, Canada. She is the most recent member of the SafeGrowth team and in this blog, she describes how the City of Edmonton is crafting diversity into their City Plan at a large macro scale, just as SafeGrowth does the same at a smaller micro scale.
SafeGrowth strives to apply citizen-led visions and goals into practice. In our experience, this results in strong communities and active partnerships which in turn link neighbourhoods together and improve their resourcefulness. Neighbourhoods can then begin to address challenges on their own, using the vast repository of resources gained through the SafeGrowth process.
What might this look like within an official city plan?
Edmonton recently approved its new City Plan. The City Plan came about with a goal to create a feeling of home and give the ability for diverse groups of populations to participate in their communities, groups such as women, children, indigenous people, migrants and immigrants, and seniors.
How can such high-level concepts be realized in communities? Right now, Edmonton is working on a new zoning bylaw that aims to transform its current legacy of segregation.
The zoning bylaw describes what can or cannot happen on one’s property and it is a tool used to implement visions found within higher-level documents like the City Plan.
BIG MOVE: INCLUSION OF INDIGENOUS RESIDENTS
Edmonton is a leader when it comes to the inclusion of its indigenous residents and neighbours – the Enoch Cree Nation to the west. The key is to strengthen this relationship through initiatives that increase indigenous participation in the city’s workforce, support indigenous community-led initiatives, and many others. With Edmonton located on the Treaty Six First Nations Territory and as the home of the second-largest urban indigenous population in Canada, prioritizing diversity and inclusion is no small task.
Perhaps more symbolic than practical, Edmonton has recently approved the renaming of its 12 wards to indigenous names (in different languages).
This process was led by a committee of 17 indigenous women. Additionally, the Indigenous Art Park was opened in 2018 that permanently exhibits artwork from indigenous artists across Canada.
COMPARISON OF APPROACHES
SafeGrowth begins with big ideas – the vision and goals. These vision and goals are turned into implementation tools resulting in outcomes that can be seen on the ground. Similarly, Edmonton’s City Plan presents a long-term vision of inclusion and diversity, and the zoning bylaw regulations ensure that this vision is implemented on the ground.
The City Plan and zoning bylaw encouraged extensive public participation at various stages of the process. It is a great way to empower communities to make decisions about what’s best for them. In this case, they sought to empower women, children, indigenous people, seniors, and newcomers to Edmonton.
As with the SafeGrowth principle to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion, Edmonton’s City Plan aims to build sustainable, empowered, and interlinked communities. Mateja Mihinjac’s blog Cities of Neighbourhoods - Are We There Yet? describes how SafeGrowth links neighbourhoods through pedestrian-friendly design.
Edmonton is attempting to achieve similar goals by reaching out and representing its diverse population in decision-making. It is a work in progress that shows how large-scale city planning might adapt to the demands of a diverse society.
by Gregory Saville
Amazon is a global, corporate superstar. Arvada is a suburban city 15 miles from downtown Denver, with 120,000 people spread in dozens of residential neighborhoods. The annual Arvada budget is $250 million compared to Amazon’s $1.6 trillion. It's David and Goliath.
So you might wonder how Arvada could resist when Amazon showed up with a plan to build a 112,000 square foot distribution center - a delivery hub - onto a 36-acre undeveloped site. Amazon came with an offer of 2,000 jobs, tax revenues, and a green buffer to shield nearby housing.
Yesterday Arvada council rejected the proposal.
Triggered by a local citizen anti-development campaign, and a petition of 10,000 residents who opposed the plan, City Council voted 5-2 to reject the Amazon proposal. Why? And what does this have to do with neighborhood crime?
Did the residents oppose Amazon’s taxation history (e.g.: media stories that they don’t pay enough)? Nope, that was not a main point of contention. Were there complaints about Amazon’s global environmental record? Nope. In fact, Amazon co-founded the Climate Pledge and Global Optimism program aiming for net-zero carbon in the next 20 years, ordered 100,000 electric delivery vehicles, and spent $100 million into the Right Now Climate fund to focus on solutions to climate warming. Wow! That should impress even the naysayers.
Not so in Arvada.
One environmental group complained that the development would destroy a nearby active wildlife habitat. But it was traffic congestion that carried the day, namely, complaints about hundreds of delivery vehicles and a 1,000 vehicle parking lot.
In a car-dependent suburb, where walking takes second place to driving, vehicle congestion is the thing. It obviously was on the minds of the 5 councillors who voted it down. I’m sure 10,000 opposing petition signatures caught their attention.
HOW IS THIS CRIME RELATED?
The vote, of course, might have gone the other way. Amazon made a strong case and everyone loves to get stuff delivered promptly by Amazon – especially during this pandemic. Add to that two thousand jobs - not an insignificant number!
But traffic jams and growing congestion is a powerful motivator in the face of a weak bus system and a new, but grossly underutilized, commuter rail line to downtown Denver. In American suburbs, cars rule!
The takeaway? When it comes to changing future cities for the better, it is crucial that we understand the politics, dynamics, and economics of land acquisition and usage. All the slick 3-D renderings, public statements, comprehensive plans, zoning regulations, and design guidelines, (such as CPTED design guidelines), do not matter one iota if resident expectations are unfulfilled.
Nor does it matter to complain about racism, gentrification, or the “flat white urbanism” planning bias if new developments flail and falter at the altar of public expectations. (Not that any of those things were part of this story).
A REALISTIC WAY FORWARD
If we want to bring forth a new form of neighborhood safety planning (and in SafeGrowth, we do), we need to dive deeply into the mindset of local residents. We need to avoid NIMBY name-calling and figure how to work alongside residents from the get-go.
In SafeGrowth we use co-planning workshops, Livability Academies, and other types of intense neighborhood engagement. This must happen long before development proposals are written up in some distant office.
I’m unsure if a more exciting and beneficial outcome might have emerged from a more collaborative planning process. I suspect the answer is yes. This week in Arvada, the answer was no! David slew Goliath.
by Tarah Hodgkinson
For years we have shown the power of locally created solutions to solve entrenched crime problems, even when those problems do not have an obvious explanation. This is especially the case when neighbourhoods have the benefit of targeted research and prevention programs to use in their safety planning. This is the essence of the SafeGrowth planning method.
I spent some time a few weeks ago in Northern Queensland facilitating a conversation with local stakeholders, community agencies and police to address an increase in assaults, particularly alcohol-fuelled assaults. There didn’t seem to be an obvious explanation (increases in tourism, etc) as to why.
The first reality in understanding such problems is that any change in crime rates in the past year must be considered in light of the impact of COVID-19 on crime. Many of those impacts show up in our blogs such as de-policing in Denver, social distancing in Victoria, and exceptional event theories.
More often than not, police-reported incidents declined dramatically during the initial lockdown period and most have returned to pre-pandemic levels. However, this is subject to how officials implement lockdowns and the kind of restrictions they put in place. In the case of assaults in Northern Queensland, this increase was a part of a ten-year trend.
In recent years, different states across Australia have implemented some significant policy and legislation changes to address night-time assaults in entertainment districts. These include “lockout laws” in certain districts called Safe Night Precincts. In these locations, they reduce alcohol serving time by two hours and ban the sale of takeaway alcohol after 10:00pm and the sale of shots after midnight.
Some precincts have introduced Risk-Based Licensing (RBL) which requires establishments to pay licensing fees that reflect the venue’s propensity to create harm. This is intended to encourage venues to improve safe service practices and reduce violence on their premises.
As complaints emerged about the loss of income, legislators rolled back many of these approaches in favour of ID-scanners to ensure underage patrons were unable to enter these precincts.
Over and above the loss of income to these areas, strategies produced mixed results in terms of crime. Recent studies of the lockout laws indicate that they have yet to show a decline in alcohol-related assault.
Furthermore, they may create displacement to precincts that don’t have these requirements. In addition, some studies have found that these legislative changes also result in patrons arriving at the precinct more intoxicated and later in the evening, impacting the level of control the venue has for reducing harm. Unfortunately, RBL’s have yet to demonstrate a decline in alcohol-related harm.
So then, what works?
Unsurprisingly, research suggests that multi-stakeholder strategies are most effective in reducing alcohol-related assaults. This includes coalition building to bring together volunteers and leaders across the community. They have produced some impressive results, including:
This strategy – Community Trials to Reduce High-Risk Drinking (RHRD) – shows success in multiple sites in reducing alcohol-related assaults, sexual assaults and motor vehicle crashes.
Rather than simply implementing broad sweeping legislation, the success of RHRD is a result of clearly identifying the problem and developing a local solution with all necessary stakeholders. This is unsurprising considering the success we see with SafeGrowth strategies in neighbourhoods around the world.
When local leaders come together, discuss the problem, identify a solution and work collaboratively to implement that solution, we see amazing results. Based on these successes, community leaders in parts of Northern Queensland are starting the same process across the region.
by Mateja Mihinjac
A year ago, at the surge of the COVID pandemic in Europe, we wrote about the importance of staying socially connected at times of "social distancing" and about building personal resilience during this global traumatic event, especially that of children and youth.
During lockdowns, some children and youth sought social connection with their peers despite the imposed restrictions. Others expressed their dissatisfaction by demonstrating against school closures, damaging public property and public messaging through graffiti tagging. Yet others isolated themselves from others and confined themselves to their four walls.
A YEAR LATER…
A year into the pandemic, I have been following with sadness the news about the growing numbers of mental health issues in youth and children due to the pandemic and major disruptions to their lives during lockdowns and restrictions to their daily routines.
In France, mental health hospitalizations of youth under 15 have gone up 80% during the pandemic. In NYC suicidal children spend days waiting to be hospitalized.
In Slovenia, for the first time ever, the demand for hospital beds reserved for children and youth requiring mental health care has exceeded the capacity and now the hospital only admits children who are suicidal.
These are not isolated stories. The effects of these stressors endure and lead to neuropsychiatric challenges in adulthood as post-traumatic stress disorder.
Yet, while many adults and parents may be struggling to gain some sense of normalcy themselves, we all need to support our children and youth with the smooth transition to the lives outside of their four walls and computer screens.
What can be done?
Humans dislike sudden changes to their routines and, while very adaptable, children struggle from sudden alterations to their routines more than adults.
To help children and youth, psychologists Phillips and Ehrenreich-May suggest that home and school need to permit slow adjustment to more active and interactive lives. For children who may require more handholding during this transition, they suggest open conversations, more patience, and help with scheduling the new routines of young people.
Others emphasise school and home settings and, in the spirit of SafeGrowth, I believe we should include local neighbourhoods and neighbourhood organisations where children and youth spend most of their time. Here are some simple tips:
Even if we can’t do everything, we can all do something! It takes a village to raise a child. Why not make our villages more children and youth-friendly, especially during these difficult times? Why not use all our neighbourhood resources and organizations to help them build their personal resilience?
This is our vision for a youth-friendly SafeGrowth city in the post-COVID times.
“Just because the average has improved massively, doesn’t mean there is not severe problems of unequal distribution.”
by Gregory Saville
The above quote is from the controversial psychologist, latter-day populist, Jordan Peterson, someone to whom I seldom pay much attention. To me, his views are too politically motivated and aligned with the far right, even though he claims otherwise. He is addicted to cultural drugs that I don’t take.
Yet there I was, watching Peterson, recently returned from his traumatic medical crisis, in a long discussion with radio host Russell Brand talking about the power of community and the powerful global trend of incremental rational progress - topics I thought he discounted.
Peterson was discussing the difference between the overall average conditions versus the relative conditions around the globe. It is the difference between the average altitude of a mountain range and the peaks and valleys. Both are important.
Consider the altitude crowd: The progressive incrementalists, people like Hans Rosling, Steven Pinker, or Ronald Bailey and Marian Tupy’s landmark book Ten Global Trends Every Smart Person Should Know, argue that things in the world are getting better and the evidence is conclusive.
Then look at the peaks and valleys: We’re in the midst of a global pandemic, social unrest and riots continue in certain countries, and just two weeks ago some local kid in my neighborhood shot up a grocery store with an assault rifle and killed ten people.
Sure doesn’t look good from this altitude!
WHO IS RIGHT?
Peterson has nailed this – the incremental progress people are right and the sky is falling crowd are right. Both are happening at the same time.
Take, for example, crime rates around the world. Whether you get your stats from the World Bank, the World Development Indicators index, or the United Nations, the stats show an undeniable incremental improvement.
In spite of some alarming homicide increases in American cities this past year (discussed in a prior blog), the overall national homicide rates per 100,000 people have been plummeting in country after country.
This is true in the United States...
... in Canada
... in Australia
... and the Netherlands
Then I came upon some Canadian policy planners inviting a Dutch criminologist to Canada to describe the remarkable crime reductions in the Netherlands. If you look at the murder rate declines in both countries, you see that the rates in both countries are fairly similar, except Canada’s decline started from a higher rate than in the Netherlands. The Netherlands should be asking Canada how it was so successful!
Apparently, Canadian policy planners are paying attention to the peaks and valleys and ignoring the averages!
Or consider Mexico, in one of the world’s regions where crime rates are not declining.
Let’s not do what Mexico is doing! We are told by criminologists that Mexico’s crime problem is driven by opportunistic drug cartels taking advantage of illicit drug demand in the U.S. If so maybe we should do what some Mexican politicians suggest – de-criminalize drugs. Since the primary reason for Mexican crime is uncontrolled illicit drug demand in the U.S., decriminalizing would cut demand and thereby, cut crime.
Or is that a case of the pot calling the kettle black? Maybe Mexico should deal with its own drug cartels who create the drug supplies and not focus on the U.S. market that creates the demand? In any event, for ten U.S. states, the marijuana de-criminalization process has already been in place for years, and yet Narco crime has not subsided.
WHAT TO DO?
Ultimately, while averages – especially overall crime rates – are improving, it is difficult to see that in everyday life. It is in the valleys and peaks where we suffer every day. Gang wars, deprived neighborhoods, and crime concentrations still plague our cities and too many people suffer needless violence.
In SafeGrowth we commit to our discovery that the most powerful way to improve quality of life and prevent crime is to work within the neighborhood with local groups and to provide the capacity for community safety planning by residents. Building community capacity at the local level is, ultimately, the way forward.
GUEST BLOG - Lilit Houlder is an urban planner working with a consulting firm in Edmonton, Canada. She is the most recent member of the SafeGrowth team and in this blog she describes her observations of the urban homeless in the middle of a global pandemic – a situation far too common across the developed world.
Edmonton has the largest number of unsheltered homeless people living within a Canadian city - approximately 1,070 persons.
While there are many support services, there are not enough beds or shelter spaces. This poses a problem for Edmonton, which is a place also known as a winter city. With temperatures dropping significantly below freezing during its long winter season, the city has an emergency plan.
For temperatures below -30 Celsius, the city’s Sector Emergency Response program gets activated to provide free public transportation, essential services, security, and a place to sleep. The city encourages citizens to keep an eye out for anyone in distress during the extreme cold and contact the city response team. The program consists of 25 partner organizations that communicate with each other and share resources. Partnerships such as this strengthen the municipal capacity to address an intractable urban problem.
The city mustered money with support from provincial and federal governments to purchase and repurpose underutilized hotels and to run 24/7 shelters. All necessary supports are given in one place, and people can socially distance themselves to avoid the spread of COVID. This is similar to British Columbia’s legislation last year to use motels for the homeless, as reported in Jon Munn’s blog.
Purchasing and repurposing hotels is an initiative created by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to adopt more non-profit housing for homeless Canadians. Edmonton purchases hotels that would otherwise operate at extremely low capacities and become a financial burden on the landowners.
Some cities like Portland are creating temporary community support shelters, such as those reported by Tod Schneider. But with Edmonton’s much colder weather, another approach emerged that is showing up in cities across North America - repurposing civic facilities.
The city turned the Shaw Conference Center into a 24/7 shelter that offered space for socializing, COVID testing, treating basic medical and mental health needs, and connecting to other support services. What made this venue different is that it was large enough to provide users space for self-isolation if showing symptoms of COVID. Smaller spaces, such as local churches or community halls or community support shelters would not have had sufficient space to accommodate this unique challenge.
2ND GENERATION CPTED
Although deployed across an entire city versus a single neighbourhood, each of the municipal strategies underway in Edmonton emphasize the power of 2nd Generation CPTED principles as a way to respond to municipal social problems.
For example, connectivity tactics included linking to upper-level governments for resources and funding. Finding a civic space with enough capacity to house such a large population is, by definition, the very heart of the connectivity principle. It was the same for connections with the 25 organizations in the Sector Emergency Response program – they had the ability to bring food, health, financial support, clothing, and other resources to alleviate the suffering of people with no place to sleep.
Another example - By educating people about the needs of the homeless during the coldest time of the year, citizens across the entire city participated in watching for vulnerable people during extreme weather. Social cohesion at such a large scale in Edmonton illustrates that, when integrated into part of urban culture, citizens who are organized to work together on a common purpose can go a long way to making life safer for the most vulnerable.
by Mateja Mihinjac
A couple of weeks ago Greg Saville and I presented an online masterclass for the International CPTED Association in which we talked about the evolution of CPTED. We described the journey from the early urbanist and architectural influences in the Jacobs/Newman CPTED era through to the criminological, psychological and sociological research that informed our development of Third-Generation CPTED, a theory we introduced in 2019.
We described some of our most recent advancements to the theory and we presented four principles that inform liveable neighbourhoods – we call them the 4S of Third-Generation CPTED.
From the beginning of the CPTED movement, Florida State University’s Professor C. Ray Jeffery called for interconnections between all sorts of environments - from psychological and biological to urban and social - in order to create a truly “environmental” crime prevention.
Twenty years ago, South African researcher Chrisna Du Plessis made a similar connection between sustainable urban development, quality of life, and crime prevention. In 2014, Paul Cozens in Australia made the point that CPTED needed a much broader view of wider environments, specifically public health and urban sustainability. These authors, and others, laid the foundation for what we later developed into Third-Generation CPTED.
The story below describes how we consolidated that early work into a new, coherent theory of crime prevention.
AN INTEGRATED THEORY
One of the main characteristics of Third-Generation CPTED lies in the amalgamation of safety with neighbourhood liveability. The theory says that highly liveable neighbourhoods should offer opportunities to satisfy the basic, moderate, and also the highest-level human needs at the same time – a process that psychologist Abraham Maslow described as a hierarchy-of-human-needs.
This means that advanced neighbourhoods will have already addressed basic physiological, psychological, and social needs. When crime and safety risks emerge, that neighbourhood will have the capacity to proactively address them through collaborative local plans. In such places, residents themselves will have resources for pro-social activities, to engage in activities that satisfy what Maslow called self-actualization or access to activities that allow them to positively contribute to the lives of others beyond one’s self (Maslow describes this as self-transcendence).
When a neighbourhood has that kind of capacity, it becomes a thriving and collaborative place of joy, contentment, safety, and sustainability. For many, if not most, such neighbourhoods help children socialize and thrive, and adults gain personal fulfillment from the urban design, cultural excitement, and pro-social opportunities that flourish there. Opportunities for crime are minimized and opportunities for personal satisfaction are maximized. The key is to extend public safety and crime prevention beyond the simple focus on crime and onto the liveability and sustainability of neighbourhoods.
In Third-Generation CPTED we built neighbourhood liveability around four principles emerging directly from Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs. These principles act as the framework for this integrated theory of crime prevention and they are centred around sustainability: environmental, economic, social, and public health sustainability. We call them 4S (sustainability x 4).
THE 4S AND THE LINK TO CRIME
There is research support for the preventive mechanisms in each of these four sustainability principles. For example, public health research demonstrates how physical exercise through neighbourhood walking enhances safety from crime.
The presence of those afflicted with mental health problems in a neighbourhood has long been known to contribute to conflict and suffering. Accordingly, there are many strategies that contribute to building the mental health of a neighbourhood, such as emotional intelligence training, self-awareness and meditation training, or dealing with risk factors from early childhood personal trauma.
Similarly, environmental factors can also provide a preventive shield, such as the greening of vacant lots to decrease gun assaults or enhancing overhead tree canopies to reduce street crime.
Investment in local infrastructure enhances economic sustainability and attention to social sustainability through grassroots community-based developments enhances the quality of life for local residents and can help reduce crime.
Our proposition is that high-performing neighbourhoods designed around each of these four sustainability principles offer a more long-term solution to prevent crime and improve the quality of life.
These four sustainability principles provide a powerful new integrated model for planning safer and resilient neighbourhoods in post-pandemic, 21st Century cities.
by Tarah Hodgkinson
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to chat with folks living in one of Northern Queensland’s islands in Australia. While speaking to local Indigenous leaders and community members about safety and liveability, I was struck by one particular issue they raised: transportation.
Over the years we have posted many blogs on urban transportation and how it enhances liveability, including some creative innovations in the harshest climates. This time the story emerged from rural environments. I heard that it was often difficult for residents to find transportation to attend health care appointments, pick up groceries, visit with friends, and attend local events. Typical public transit such as buses or trains were not an option, because the population was small and very spread out.
The issue resonated for a few reasons.
First, in many of the rural communities I’ve worked with in recent years, I hear stories such as local kids unable to get to after-school activities or no access to basic health care and affordable food because they couldn’t get to their doctor or shops. In North Battleford, Canada, for example, clients of the local shelter explained that despite being able to get a ride into town for services, they were unable to find transportation home on the same day, leaving them stranded.
Second, this issue was particularly important for older individuals. When our team partnered with the huge non-profit AARP a few years ago to run a SafeGrowth Search Conference in New Orleans, we learned quickly that transportation issues restricted access to necessary services and raised issues of safety for vulnerable populations like the elderly.
Third, transportation issues also affect those living with disabilities. During my time with the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, I learned that many of our clients lacked accessible transportation, aside from a bi-weekly accessibility bus, leaving them isolated and unable to leave the house.
Often called transport poverty, the inability to access affordable and reliable transportation can result in a number of social issues. For a once-rural kid like myself, it often meant a lack of opportunities to engage in extracurriculars that offer pathways for success. Transport poverty also leaves many individuals feeling isolated and unable to engage in their community - one of the essential quality of life messages in 3rd Generation CPTED.
In some locations, informal networks emerge to create solutions to this issue. In the Australian town of Roma, Queensland, a local Indigenous elder spent most of her day driving local kids around to meetings and to school.
At the MS Society in Ontario, there was an informal network of volunteers and other support staff who offered rides and helped people get to appointments and other things they couldn’t do without the accessibility bus.
These stories are inspiring and remind us of the innovative and creative ways people come together to overcome issues in their neighbourhoods and communities. But there are more formal ways of making transportation easily accessible in order to allow people opportunities to build new networks and relationships and participate fully in their communities.
For example, Demand Responsive Transit and Flexible Integrated Transport Systems offer a flexible and shared service that allows people who live near to each other to share transportation when buses or trains are not available or physically accessible. These systems allow users to pre-book transportation, meet at their home or nearby and travel to selected locations like shopping, health and community facilities or transportation hubs.
Essentially, it is like a big taxi for people in your area, but far more affordable by using a standard low fare (public transit focused) and can be easily accessed through phone technology like apps. These kinds of programs are used in parts of Europe and Australia.
Public transportation should be affordable and accessible to everyone. It allows us to connect and engage fully in our community, while also accessing services to improve our health and quality of life. And after a year of COVID-19 – it might be more important than ever.
“I’m increasingly inclined to think that there should be some regulatory oversight, maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish. I mean with artificial intelligence we’re summoning the demon.”
— Elon Musk at MIT’s AeroAstro Centennial Symposium
by Gregory Saville
A number of years ago I partnered with my friend, brilliant computer scientist friend, Nick Bereza, and we created an automated critical infrastructure protection software called ATRIM. Later, I did a stint with a tech startup in security. Thus, I was introduced into the glitzy world of tech and software development tradeshows.
I saw firsthand an industry both exciting and volatile. Competition was fierce and missteps led to demise. Along the way, I discovered the unspoken hierarchy in the security technology world. Occupying the bottom were the junk science startups armed with a veneer of techno-gibberish. At the top was the bigboy of the high-tech playground: AI – Artificial Intelligence. At that time, security & law enforcement AI was little more than theory and conceptual White Papers.
There is an important math concept in the AI world known as the Laws of the Logarithms.
Logs are math functions used to speed up computations. One example is Moore’s Law which states that computer processing speeds double every two years. Thus, 10 units of computer memory become 20 and two years later become 40. In two decades those 10 units multiply at an exponential rate into 10,240… a thousand times higher. Logarithmic growth is the difference between narrow-AI (Apple’s “Siri” or Amazon’s “Alexi”) and deep-AI (Hal 9000 or Ava from Ex Machina)
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Sophie the Robot from Hansen Robotics was first activated on February 14, 2016, as a robotic allegory of AI. Her accomplishments as an independent, thinking machine are well documented. She sports “scripting software, a chat system, and OpenCog, an AI system designed for general reasoning”. In other words, she can chat with you on any topic, interpret ideas, and learn from one conversation to the next.
AI experts tell us that Sophie is not conscious and is still responding based on a network of algorithms. One expert calculated her level of consciousness at about at the level of a single cell protozoa – hardly the stuff of Terminator. Deep AI is at least 200 years away, or so we are told.
I hope they told the Laws of Logarithms.
AI IN LAW ENFORCEMENT
A colleague recently forwarded research on AI in Law Enforcement and it rekindled memories of those AI White Papers at the tech trade shows from not so long ago. Today they go by titles like “Artificial Intelligence and Robotics for Law Enforcement” and “Artificial Intelligence and Predictive Policing”.
They are written by groups like Interpol, the UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute, and funded by groups like the US National Science Foundation, names with considerable gravitas. They take AI in law enforcement and security seriously.
They describe new technologies, some of which echo the similar junk science and techno-gibberish I saw years ago. The technologies they describe are mostly narrow AI – voice recognition, simultaneous location and mapping software, patrol drones, and predictive policing. They barely qualify as AI. None reach Sophie’s level of sophistication. So nothing to worry about, right?
AI IN POLICING DISPATCH
Maybe…maybe not! Consider Predictive Policing. PredPol sends patrol officers to areas that it predicts will become an issue in the future. It uses weekly police calls for service to estimate where crime will happen. But calls for police service only show up in police files when residents call the police – and many minority communities will not call the police for fear or distrust. So areas of high crime, where fearful residents remain behind closed doors, never get police via PredPol since those police units will be sent elsewhere. That’s not exactly fair and equitable police services.
To make matters worse, training for Predpol officers does not include what they should do differently when they get to the predicted crime hotspot. For example, if poor lighting is creating vulnerable areas for muggers, patrol officers are not taught Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design tactics to reduce opportunities for future assaults. Thus, if they find no one at the predicted hotspot, PredPol officers simply drive on to the next call. That’s not exactly intelligent policing, artificial or otherwise.
PredPol has even been criticized for amplifying racially biased patterns of policing... and all this considers the problems from only one form of narrow AI. Can you imagine the kinds of catastrophes that might unfold if things go wrong with immeasurably more powerful deep AI within law enforcement?
A DEAL WITH THE DEVIL
Do law enforcement leaders dream that they can somehow control a sentient and fully conscious deep AI system that is immeasurably smarter than they are, linked globally to databases around the world, and capable of out-thinking and out-strategizing them?
If so, watch the Academy Award-winning film Ex Machina and see how that turns out.
Some very smart people worry about the danger of deep AI – people like Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates. And in law enforcement and security, AI is the ultimate Faustian bargain! Is it really an intellectual cache worth cashing in on?
by Gregory Saville
Metro Denver is my home. As far as cities go, it’s a pretty decent place to live. On the western edge of the city lies the panoramic Rocky mountains and to the east, the Great Plains unfurl for almost a thousand miles. Metro Denver is one of the fastest-growing tech scenes in the country and it hosts the 2nd largest aerospace industry in the country.
Yet all that means nothing if violence and crime compromise livability and street safety. So what is happening crime-wise? If we don’t know what is going on, how can we improve the quality of life?
COVID AND CRIME
The Denver Post newspaper recently used COVID and de-policing to explain crime fluctuations last year. On one hand, Denver had an explosion of homicides, from 63 in 2019 to 95 last year. On the other, certain crimes flatlined and dropped. The COVID pandemic, says the Post, did not seem to influence violent crime in the city. “Motor vehicle theft was flat before COVID, yet jumped by 37% in the 11 weeks before Floyd’s death. Larceny theft went the other direction: it was up 18% pre-COVID and then returned to 2016-19 levels.”
The Denver police Chief points to social stresses and COVID-related frustrations. "There’s a lot of negative emotion taking place out there…I think that there is some crossover into what we’re seeing in the homicide numbers. Typically, folks would resolve issues without resorting to violence."
Some researchers point away from social explanations and instead use the routine activity approach and crime opportunity theories (it’s easier to break into vacant stores shuttered by quarantine rules). They suggest the pandemic has impacted the routine activities of people and, therefore, crime patterns. The increase in murder, they suggest, is caused by more criminal guns on the street and fewer cops doing proactive stops to find them. Of course, if that were the case, violent crimes like robbery would be increasing.
Since last August the Denver robbery rate has dropped.
Further, routine activity approach suggests domestic violence and sexual crimes should go up since COVID quarantines keep more people indoors. Because domestic violence incidents emanate from behind closed doors in residential areas, more opportunities should produce increases in those crimes.
In Denver, domestic violence and sexual assault have declined 16% and 39% respectively.
Routine activity is a case of wanting to have your theory-cake and eat it too. Perhaps we should rename it “the-theory-that-really-isn't-a-theory-of-some-selected-crimes-but-not-others-in-some-cities-but-not-other-cities”.
Naw, that title doesn’t work. And that would not really be an explanatory theory but rather more of an after-the-fact travelogue of what I saw on my summer holiday.
What about de-policing, when police retreat from proactive crime prevention due to the BLM protests and racial unrest. For some reason, newspapers equate traffic stops with “proactive crime prevention”. In any case, the Denver data shows traffic stops have little impact on overall crime. The graphic in the Denver Post article actually shows the opposite – as traffic stops decrease, so too does crime. The truth is that most crime reports emerge from after-the-fact crime reporting, not from traffic stops.
The Denver Post article suggests there is a crisis of legitimacy between the public and the police and if people don’t trust the police, they won’t call them. If that is true, then crime rates should drop – which might explain Denver’s motor vehicle rates but not other increasing crime rates. And that brings us right back to cake-eating theory-making! Either de-policing increases crime, or it doesn’t. Or maybe it does for some crimes, in some circumstances, but not in others. Or maybe… oh, never mind.
Stick to the science. Theories need data and well-formulated hypotheses. The data suggest de-policing as a cause of crime blips does not work well. Neither does routine activity.
The Denver chief is probably right about social stresses from COVID cabin fever. Further, if you read this blog, you will know we've been saying for years that we must look elsewhere to explain crime blips. We need better prevention theory to rethink how we plan neighborhoods and create opportunities for healthy living that resists crime. We need more opportunities for pro-social behaviors and stronger neighborhood mediation and family support systems. We need local systems housed directly in the neighborhood where they are needed most, not centralized in city hall or police headquarters.
That falls squarely into community development and neighborhood planning more than criminology. It falls into the theory of SafeGrowth. Fortunately, some exciting new studies are recommending some new directions for researchers.
Martin Andresen and Tarah Hodgkinson’s latest study points the way for future academic theorizing. Their latest article, Environmental Criminology, Design and Victimization: What We Know, How We Have Failed, and Where We Need To Go, does a great job at throwing down the gauntlet for future researchers.
“If the focus of environmental criminology is to create specific and effective prevention strategies, these strategies need to be inclusive of all people. …For example, planning methodologies such as SafeGrowth integrate the learnings of environmental criminology with social and contextual concerns to create inclusive strategies with and by local residents that shift away from crime control for the few and toward inclusion, safety, and most importantly livability for the many."
Well done, Martin and Tarah, for pointing academic research towards a more productive future. We have much work to do.
by Gregory Saville
By popular accounts, South-Central Los Angeles is a chaotic place – a place where the community has collapsed and people live in fear. A quarter-million people suffer poverty rates over 30%. Half of the city’s murders and hundreds of gang shootings emerge from South-Central. Popular films, like South-Central and Colors paint a bleak picture.
This year alone LAPD reports 100 homicides in South-Central, a homicide rate of 40 per 100,000, eight times higher than the national average and more than any other country in the world, except El Salvador.
The fact that there is gang violence and racial conflict is not news. The more interesting questions are: If neighborhood culture has collapsed, why isn’t it so much worse? How does a family even survive in such a place? Why has it been getting better over the past few decades (notwithstanding increases in homicide this past year)?
Do conditions in South-Central simply reflect basic human behavior in our natural state? When the chips are down, do we just become beasts? If so, how does South-Central still survive?
Thomas Hobbes wrote that our natural state was self-serving and violent. At the moment of collapse, for example following a catastrophe, people revert to their natural “solitary, poor, nasty brutish and short” lives.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, on the other hand, argued the opposite – humans are basically good and, following a cultural collapse, we will end up finding ways to cohabitate. “Nothing is so gentle as man in his primitive state,” he wrote in 1754.
What does history suggest?
COLLAPSE IS NORMAL
The Golden Age of Ancient Greece lasted for centuries. That remarkable, but fatally flawed, Hellenistic society never managed to eliminate slavery or internecine conflict and they eventually gave way to the Romans. Of course, Greek city-states did not vanish and their citizens did not perish. They continued on under Roman rule until, eventually, the Roman empire collapsed.
The Romans absorbed Greek culture, technology, and engineering, advancements we still use today. In fact, we base our contemporary democracy, science, mathematics, medicine, and philosophy on some of those early Greco-Roman discoveries.
People imagine the fall of the Roman empire as some cataclysmic war or conquering marauders burning Rome as Emperor Nero watched. In fact, after the Western Roman Empire faded, the Eastern Roman Empire transformed into the Byzantine Empire in Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul). And the ancestors of the Byzantine Empire became the Ottoman Empire. Today 80 million people, the progeny of those empires, live comfortably as citizens of the modern nation of Turkey.
It’s the same all over the world. Societies emerge, thrive, and collapse, but their demise does not signal a return to permanent chaos under a violent short life. Human nature is not permanently brutish.
THE PROGRESSION OF HISTORY
Life may be brutish for a while, but history suggests Rousseau was onto something. Life doesn’t remain brutish – actually the opposite. People find a way forward.
Consider the treatise of Harvard’s Pulitzer-winning author Steven Pinker, arguably the leading American scholar today on matters of mind and culture. His widely heralded book, Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined studies the history of violence and civilization from one era to another. In each subsequent era, he discovers the persistent decline of violence through history and the emerging civilizing effect of rational thought.
Even today, when rational thought seems a distant dream, collapse from social chaos rarely lasts. Human nature, he says, is both brutish and beneficent at the same time. Rousseau and Hobbes were both right and wrong.
That brings us back to South-Central and a marvelous book by Cid Martinez, The Neighborhood Has Its Own Rules: Latinos and African-Americans in South Los Angeles. Martinez studied the social disorganization (and ultimately, re-organization) of cultural life in South-Central ten years following the infamous Rodney King riots.
FLASHBACK: If you don’t recall the 1992 LA Riots, they followed video coverage of a police beating of motorist Rodney King, and the subsequent acquittal of the officers responsible. It led to days of rioting, 63 deaths, and 2,000 injuries. Hundreds of stores burned and over 12,000 people were arrested. By all accounts, society collapsed in South Central.
Matinez spent a year living in South Central studying the culture and his conclusions echoed both our findings during our SafeGrowth programming and the conclusions of Pinker in Better Angels.
He found order within the disorder. People discovered a way to be civilized when some of those around them could not. Says one reviewer:
“Despite the many divisions that South Los Angeles residents have from each other…Martinez finds unexpected commonalities among Latin American and African-American residents. Because residents do not perceive state actors as legitimate, they turn to each other to provide social organization.”
Martinez calls this special ordering “alternative governance” and, while it is certainly not an ideal way to run a society, as elsewhere when enough people cultivate the beneficient side to human nature they can make their community function.
We retain this Rousseau-style lesson as a central philosophy of SafeGrowth programming. We call it the To/For/With principle and time and time again, we see people turn their own community back from the brink of crime.
Life isn’t always, or even mostly, brutish and short. As they always have, people find a way forward.
by Tarah Hodgkinson
We are often asked why we focus our crime prevention work so intensely on small-is-beautiful versus large scale transformation. We have learned that small scale neighbourhoods, particularly disadvantaged or high crime neighbourhoods, offer the greatest potential for creating safe, cohesive, and liveable places that show how to rebuild cities in the future.
That doesn’t mean large scale transformation isn’t possible. It just means it can be far more difficult, turbulent, and unproductive.
Consider the political, social, and cultural upheaval of the last few years in the United States. Over 400,000 people are dead due to coronavirus. Children are in cages. Domestic terrorists attacked and entered the capitol building and five people were killed. Muslims from certain countries have been banned. Rights for all kinds of groups have been reeled back.
It has been a few weeks since America inaugurated a new leader. A subdued celebration ensued in order to keep people COVID-safe and the world went wild over a pair of handmade mittens.
And, by most accounts, Americans let out a sigh of relief. Within hours, policy after racist policy was rolled back, with 17 executive actions signed in the first day and over 40 as of this week.
AS DIVIDED AS EVER
Nonetheless, America is as divided now as ever. This division is not new. Read back only a few decades and you will find the exact same sentiment.
In fact, those exact words, have been written again and again over the last century. But what does this mean for America? And how do people move forward?
We have discovered through many years of our SafeGrowth project work that progress only happens when people truly listen to each other.
There are thousands of books, articles, and critiques on the rise of “populism.” However, these accounts often ignore the original tenets of populism: real democracy for all people. Real democracy is messy. It doesn’t involve scapegoating or hatred, but a recognition of the rights of all people.
It seems obvious that Americans also need to take a hard look at themselves. There is an excellent scene in the HBO Series, The Newsroom when Jeff Daniels' news anchor character, Will McAvoy, is on a public stage and is asked: “Why is America the greatest country in the world?” He stuns the audience when he replies, “It isn’t! But it sure used to be”.
McAvoy cites a myriad of statistics on how America fails to compete with other countries on literacy, life expectancy, infant mortality, health care, economic equality, and more (all of which - while spoken by an actor in a fictional show - are true).
What this scene suggests is that the warnings of a crumbling American empire are also true, sentiments found in Niall Ferguson's book Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire and Chris Hedges’ Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope.
HOPE FOR 2021
America has always been one of the most innovative and entrepreneurial countries in the world and it can innovate again. As famed American historian, Howard Zinn suggested in his book Passionate Declarations Americans need to see themselves the way much of the world does. Self-reflection is the first step in the journey of self-improvement.
Finally, Americans need to take that reflection and get to work. This starts with the demands coming from the populists: health and education reform, economic reform, policing reform, and others.
This will require that neighbourhood residents and leaders, like the incredible people we have met in our SafeGrowth network, continue their hard work and demand better for themselves and their communities.
A new leader might mean new hope. But unlike the world of Star Wars, we can’t put that new hope on one Jedi’s shoulders or the magic of The Force. This must be done by people themselves. A new hope for America comes from the voices of all Americans being heard. And that starts with a small-is-beautiful approach in local neighbourhoods in the cities and towns all over the nation.
GUEST BLOG: Tod Schneider is an old friend and has posted blogs here on CPTED in schools. Since then we have posted many blogs on homeless issues such as homeless reduction and tactical urbanism in Portland. Here, Tod shares his latest innovative work on homeless shelters.
by Tod Schneider, Executive Director, Community Homeless Shelters
Most homeless camps have a bad rap for good reasons: they’re poorly designed, if designed at all; they’re under-funded if they’re funded at all; they’re managed by people unequipped to manage at all; and they’re sheltering primarily people who are wrestling with severe life crises.
Community Supported Shelters is different. We have an approach that works. We shelter people with few resources who would like help pulling their lives back together. Our effectiveness is reflected in the widespread support we receive from the homeless population, the advocate community, the police, and the local government.
Although NIMBY continues to be a challenge, we even have widespread support from the general public, reflected in the $350,000 in private donations we received last year. Here are the key ingredients that work for us:
Many people start out needing help with basic needs: replacing lost I.D., lost teeth, and lost dignity, making supportive friends or finding a decent meal, getting used to people looking them in the eye, or calling them by name.
Two out of three of our campers move on to better circumstances in less than a year. We started with one hut, next to a church, in a wary community. We added three camps over the next half dozen years, and support started to grow. In September 2020, the local government, having seen our effectiveness, came to us with enthusiasm, pulled out their checkbooks and funded five new camps. We’ll be sheltering 160 people in 8 camps by somewhere around Valentine’s Day.
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