In 2021, Peace in Our Cities funded nine violence reduction and prevention projects in eight member cities through the Peace Incentive Fund, a grant made possible by co-facilitating partner, the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice. In January 2022, Peace in Our Cities virtually hosted representatives from the cities of Guadalajara and Escobedo to share reflections with the network on their city-specific projects and insights into their strategies for future prevention efforts.
Strengthening neighborhood identity in Guadalajara
Santa Cecilia is a neighborhood in Guadalajara with 8,754 inhabitants, generally characterized by high rates of crime, violence, and immigration. The city of Guadalajara uses a 10-point evaluation system to measure levels of social integration and vulnerability to violence and crime across their neighborhoods, with higher scores indicating low levels of vulnerability and high levels of integration. Santa Cecilia received scores of 2.76 points for indicators related to vulnerability and 2.84 points for indicators related to social integration; these scores demonstrate high levels of risk for violence and crime and low levels of social integration. As a recipient of the Peace Incentive Fund, the city of Guadalajara partnered with the Council for the Promotion of Innovation and Design, a civil society organization, to change this narrative.
Working together, the city and their CSO partners brought police, teenagers, and adults together in a neutral space to undergo a series of cultural activities designed to transform mindsets, build trust in institutions, increase resident safety in public places, and strengthen community cohesion. The project, Creative Neighborhoods, Peaceful Neighborhoods, co-created a methodological strategy to enhance social cohesion while transforming the community center into a space for community building.
The Council for the Promotion of Innovation and Design led workshops where citizens co-designed activities that promoted a sense of community and a culture of non-violence to build social cohesion. The project increased resident ownership of city spaces and promoted a shared community identity. Because both residents and law enforcement co-developed activities, participants better acknowledged one another’s presence and engaged in dialogue that promoted healthy relationships. Law enforcement and community members, including youth, women, and children, were asked to envision the neighborhood and to visualize the future of their community in the next five to ten years, focusing on the first steps that could be taken to get there.
In addition to law enforcement officers, approximately fifty children, seventy youth, and fifteen women participated in the project. The initiatives included activities that brought the community together, such as a podcast led by youth and police officers, chess tournaments, a musical band composed of police officers and neighborhood residents, rap workshops, painting, and open movie showings. One community resident highlighted how art and culture are fundamental pillars of the community and that the project promoted cultural development in one of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods. Meanwhile, another participant expressed appreciation for the involvement of police in the community activities because it provided a calm and peaceful interaction.
Providing Temporary Shelter for Women in Escobedo
In Escobedo, local authorities are working to provide women who have been victims of domestic violence with autonomy and decision-making powers through programs that cater to their needs and ensure their dignity. Amongst these projects is the Temporary Shelter for Women, which focuses on providing women and their children with dignified housing and the services needed to recover from violence and seek their own financial independence. This project builds on prior initiatives and services provided by the city of Escobedo to reduce violence against women.
The Peace Incentive Fund supported a pilot project, Temporary Shelter for Women, which operates using a multi-sectoral approach that provides housing, counseling and psychological treatment, gradual economic support, safety, and protection to women affected by any type of interpersonal or societal violence with an overarching goal of ensuring their economic independence.
One of the key goals of the Peace Incentive Fund is to assist cities in building projects that can be scaled up and continued within the city. The city of Escobedo is taking this a step further, working within the legal system to ensure that the project does not close when current funding ends or after the election of a new Mayor. Working together with different sectors of the government, the city has successfully created a binding, legal agreement that requires the government and private developers to support the project for an additional two years. This is coupled with the city’s efforts to build relationships with private developers in Escobedo, through which they have secured strong relationships with contracting companies and private donors who have provided additional financial support to both the renovated homes and the vocational training.
Both of these projects are working to support violence reduction efforts in the communities of Peace in Our Cities members. The project in Guadalajara strengthened community identity through activities that brought together different groups, promoted dialogue between youth and law enforcement officers, and generated a sense of belonging in the community. Meanwhile, the project in Escobedo seeks to provide women with a life free of violence by providing them with psychological and multidisciplinary support as necessary to ensure their economic and social freedom. To learn more about the Peace Incentive Fund click here.