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Public Safety / 2013



Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Women Against Gun Violence

Statistics show that youth who witness or are directly affected by gun violence have an increased risk of perpetrating violence. Our project, SLAM GUN VIOLENCE, gives youth an opportunity to express their grief, fear, and isolation through the creative process of slam poetry instead of through more violence.

What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?

Women Against Gun Violence has been around since 1993 working to prevent gun violence in Los Angeles City and County. We have done this work through storytelling. Our Speakers Bureau members, gun violence survivors themselves, share their stories with students throughout Los Angeles Unified School District so that youth can see the actual tragedy of gun violence. Our Speakers Bureau members also share their stories with policymakers to encourage change in our gun regulations. We were included in Vice President Biden’s meetings in January 2013 where our Speakers Bureau format was considered part of a national solution.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

We are hopeful that Nikki Blak, the recipient of the 2005 World Stage/UCLA Literary Scholarship, will be our Artistic Director. Nikki has been a member of the 2006 Los Angeles, 2007 Hollywood, and 2008 San Diego Slam Teams. In 2010, she earned the title of Los Angeles Grand Slam Champion and was a member of the LA Slam Team, which she also co-slam mastered and coached. Last year, she revisited her role as co-slam master, coach, and member of the 2011 LA and member of the 2011 LA Slam team.

We are also in discussions with Santa Monica Sam, a rapper who has rapped about gun violence, to oversee the production of performances.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?

We will have several methods of evaluation.

  1. Number of youth at beginning of project compared to number of youth at end of project
  2. Number of youth in the program who are categorized as high-risk who are able to avoid direct gun violence during the year of the program.
  3. Number of youth involved in program who see improvement in grades and attendance at school
  4. Number of youth in the program who refer others to the program

How will your project benefit Los Angeles?

At risk youth who are survivors of gun violence – either shot themselves or lost someone to gun violence – will be given an opportunity to channel their anger and grief into a medium, Slam Poetry, instead of channeling their anger into more violence. At the same time, Los Angeles will benefit from the artistic contributions of its youth and can become a national model for gun violence intervention.

What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?

Youth would be participating in the cultural experience of Slam Poetry and the continuing program of SLAM GUN VIOLENCE instead of resorting to gun violence to express their feelings of anger and isolation. Youth would be staying in school, improving their grades, encouraging others to do the same. Gun violence would continue to decrease. And SLAM GUN VIOLENCE would become a national model!