November 16, 2010

No Rocket Science Required

Too often, when we’re faced with challenges, it seems we get stuck on the fact that if there was an easy solution, we’d have found it already…but since we’re still facing the challenge, clearly the only solutions must be up there in the realm of rocket science, right? 

Take Syracuse’s current situation, our string of violent acts going back to Halloween. Once we get past the shock – five blocks from my house four people were shot the other day! – and we start breaking it down, it doesn’t take too long to get to bad or non-existent parenting, poverty, abuse and neglect, the lure of gangs and drugs, bad schools, and so on as causes for the violence. These are the kind of things that didn’t start yesterday, and won’t end tomorrow; the issues are the boulder, and we are Sisyphus.  

I had a brainstorm today. It may be silly, and it may not work, but it might be worth a shot. And it's not rocket science.

I’m wondering what would happen if famous or semi-famous folks from all walks of life – elected officials like Stephanie Miner, Bill Magnarelli and John DeFrancisco; educators like Debbie Sydow and Nancy Cantor and Dan Lowengaard; businessmen like John Stage from the Dinosaur BBQ; media personalities like Matt Mulcahey, Sean Kirst, John Walsh, and Jim Reith; preachers from the local churches, and just plain folks created a whole mess of ‘stop the violence’ public service announcements? 

They could air on all of the local TV and radio stations; we could have billboards and bus cards and newspaper ads, donated or at reduced cost, and try to get the message out that violence doesn’t solve anything?

Call me crazy or idealistic or simple minded, but this wouldn’t cost millions of dollars, or take thousands of days, or require hundreds of studies, or need dozens of committees… it would take just one influential person to step up, call on their friends or call in some markers, and then it would start. School kids could get involved, and college students; parents and grandparents, and on and on.

Tonight, I reached out to one of those influential people, and asked for help for our city. I’ll keep you posted on what I hear.  Do you have any crazy ideas we can try?


  1. I would like to see the schools create student focus groups in order to get their ideas on the root causes and possible solutions to the violence issue. Where do adults fail them? Where do the guns come? What do the kids think we all could be doing to turn this situation around?

  2. This is a great suggestion MA - it might be possible to get some real answers if we go to the source. I'm going to see if I can get this into the right hands at SCSD, thanks!