I want to celebrate the success of the city’s Holistic Emergency Alternative Response Team program going through the city council. This was an example of the incredible success community support can achieve when we follow the lead of the community members most affected by a problem and support their proposed solution. The Heart program sits with the city manager waiting for approval and implementation of the final phase.

As a member of Showing Up for Racial Justice Boston, I had the chance to be a contributor to and supporter of the Heart program and the incredible leadership of The Black Response Cambridge. It was impressive to see how our community can come together to work towards a safer Cambridge for all and to choose alternatives to our current police and prison system.

Thanks to Cambridge Day for reporting on Heart Passing and including the nuances of the council’s coordination and process with the current city manager June). This coverage missed the opportunity to identify how this program could support us all! She chose to focus this program on fear of increasing violence rather than the immense opportunity to invest in communities, provide differentiated services, and train people within communities to care for one another.

I am a passionate advocate of mental health care, community support, and relationship building, and I have benefited from these services in my life. I am excited to see how Heart brings these services and more to our community. These services will serve those in need during a crisis and will build education, relationships, and investment in the community on a wider scale. For example, Heart will provide conflict resolution through transformative justice practices, as well as aftercare support and nonviolent public responses if incidents occur. Heart will also offer community-based skills training, a resource database from other service providers; and mutual service to provide access to food, material goods, community, and more.

I am excited to see the Cambridge that we can build together – a Cambridge that is better and stronger for all of us, that puts our most affected community members at the center, and that listens deeply to their voices. Ruth Wilson Gilmore, director of the Center for Place, Culture and Politics and prison abolitionist and prison scholar, says, “Abolition is about presence, not absence. It’s about building life-affirming institutions. ”The Heart program is an affirmation of the life and community that we are building together.

Please take the time to speak to loved ones about Heart and a future without police and surveillance that would allow us to build and sustain a community. I am very supportive and delighted to have the Heart program in my community and hope you are too.

Ellie Carver, Reed Street


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