Read more about the lessons that Memphis and Shelby County have learned through collaborative work to prevent violence.
When Operation: Safe Community was first developed and implemented, there was a belief that the board of directors and a couple of key individuals would be able to implement the plan. In reality they found, within the first two years, that an additional layer of strategy leaders were needed to help implement each of the strategies. For each strategy, one or two strategy leaders were identified. These strategy leaders help to ensure there is open communication between what is being done at the ground level and the board of directors. Once strategy leaders were established there was an effort to ensure that they sat on the board, which helped to expand the board’s representation.
- Recognize that all members will not be equally engaged
The Memphis Shelby Crime Commission (Crime Commission) realized that engaging a large number of stakeholders can be difficult. For the work around the Memphis Youth Violence Prevention Plan, they have 75 stakeholders involved. In working with such a large group, they found it was important to recognize that everyone many not be involved at the same level and have the same level of commitment.
- Share data and accomplishments to help sustain and engage partners
The Crime Commission engages and sustains the large number of stakeholders they work with by sharing data with the community and partners. This illustrates the work that is being done and the accomplishments that are being made, helps to foster pride for those involved in the effort, and enhances community awareness and engagement.
- Break the large group into smaller targeted teams
To implement the strategies within Operation: Safe Community, strategic teams were developed with relevant partners. These teams work on one specific strategy and are led by one or two strategy leaders. Their work is then shared with the larger group through the oversight of the board of directors. Breaking the large group into targeted teams helps them to get things accomplished and maintain engagement.
Conducting an inventory of the community allows you to identify and understand what resources the community has, what coalitions and collaboratives currently exist, and what activities are currently available. There is often a wealth of resources that already exist that can be used to support your effort; the challenge is bringing those various resources at various levels together based on your need and purpose. While conducting an inventory of the community assets is important, it must be an ongoing process. Conducting an inventory once is not sufficient, due to leadership turnover and program changes. Having a deliberate effort to keep information current allows you to engage people quickly when changes occur.
While coordinating and collaborating across the different initiatives can be beneficial, it can be difficult for the public and stakeholders to understand and parse out the different initiatives. It is therefore imperative for those working with the different plans to have a clear explanation of the plans, how they work together, and how they are unique. The quantity of information and timing can also cause challenges. In the spring of 2011, both the Youth Violence Prevention Plan (released April 4, 2011) and DCI plan (released May 1, 2011) were released. Having both plans released in a short period of time seemed to cause information overload.