It is easy to feel depressed by all the bad news. It's also possible to miss some of the good things that are happening. The key to long term solutions may be to draw energy from the good to overcome the bad. It was heartening, for instance, to hear of the adoption by Action for a Better Community (a long standing force for good in Rochester) of the Cure Violence model developed in Chicago. There are programs focused on students, like Rochester Mentors and the Borinquen Dance Company. As Martin Edic mentioned, there are federal funds coming in for revitalizing the spaces cut off 50 years ago by the Inner Loop. Young entrepreneurs are staying in the area, starting companies and getting support and mentorship from established business people.
Yet, as you say, here are problems that seem intractable, and may well be if we don't come together. What's missing is a collective sense of being in this together and a leadership voice that says, "Let's declare what we are FOR and work together on building energy and support for that. " There will be plenty of opportunities to discuss what we are against.
What if City were to call for a gathering of all segments of our community into a very large scale conversation, in the form of a Future Search or a World Cafe? I imagine one to two-thousand people in the Convention Center all invited to come together to answer a few basic questions: What do we want for our community? What do we share in common with each other across all our differences? What are we willing do together to bring about a future worthy of us and our children's, children's children?
Other cities have done this (Seattle comes to mind). We can too.
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