By Eric Ortiz, Wedge resident and president of the Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association

Community leaders are worried about public safety as the weather warms up. In 2022, there have already been 150 carjackings and over 1,200 auto thefts in Minneapolis, which is a slight increase from 2021 numbers.

But now is not the time to lose faith in our neighbors and our community. We can start with the block we live on. Is it peaceful? If not, how can we make it peaceful?

Are the basic needs being met for everyone on our block? If not, how can we ensure the basic needs are met for everyone on our block?

Is there crime on our block? Is there violence? If yes, why? What are the reasons for the crime and violence? Once we determine the root problems, we can come up with root solutions. It won't be easy. But enough with the Band-Aid fixes. We need to get rid of the charity/scarcity mindset and build solidarity.

Humans have the capability to care for each other. We can be better human beings. We just have to appeal to our "greater good" human instincts (e.g., compassion, kindness, kinship) instead of our basest animal ones. We can start by providing mutual aid for whoever needs it.

We, the people, must help each other. Ordinary people can do extraordinary things when we work together. We need to do the survival work ourselves, block by block, community by community.

As Dean Spade writes in "Mutual Aid," a handbook for building solidarity during times of crisis, "mutual aid is the radical act of caring for each other while working to change the world." This is what we need right now.

We need to stand up for peace. We need to promote peace. We need to take actions that create peace.

Every step we take, every breath we make, has to be for peace.

The Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association is working on a peace plan. It is called the Unity, Peace and Prosperity Plan, or UPPP. We have assembled a team of collaborative partners to co-create the UPPP program with the community in Minneapolis, specifically Black, Indigenous and People of Color youth. Initial partners include the Minnesota Peacebuilding Leadership Institute, Restorative Justice Community Action, Manu Lewis Consulting, 846s, Minnesota Zen Meditation Center, Soo Visual Arts Center and Strong Mind Strong Body Foundation.

Our goal is to empower youth with the tools and restorative practices they need to resolve conflicts, reduce violence, and be successful in life. Once they have these tools, they can have a peacebuilding roadmap to be positive contributors in their communities and bring unity, peace and prosperity to their blocks in their neighborhoods.

Instead of thinking about everything we need to survive the apocalypse, we can get on a new path. We can help communities thrive and restore our humanity. That starts by making peace. Block by block.

Let's not squander this opportunity.

If you are interested in learning more about the Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association (LHENA) Unity, Peace and Prosperity Plan (UPPP) or getting involved, let us know.