Summit seeks to use nature as salve for violence
By Lisa DeNeal Post-Tribune correspondent May 18, 2013 4:32PM
If you go
What: Stop the Violence: Let Nature Nurture Family Summit
Where: Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education, 20 N. Lake St.
When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 15
Learn more: For more information or to participate, contact Cassandra Cannon, 939-0074, or Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Ranger Kip Walton, (219) 395-1858.
Updated: June 20, 2013 4:42PM
GARY — With a purpose to prevent criminal activities before they start, Gary resident Cassandra Cannon and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Ranger Kip Walton are collaborating on a family summit during the center’s Family Day events.
Cannon, active in anti-violence activities in Gary and Chicago, said this summit is an alternative to the all-too-familiar candlelight vigils, marches and rallies that happen after the crime’s been committed. “We are taking action that will intervene with possible criminal acts or even thoughts of doing them by bringing positive messages and activities to the community. One way to do that is to make use of our parks and the Douglas Center,” Cannon said. Adding that many in the city, including the youth, do not realize that the Douglas Center is right in the middle of the city. “I’ve done research, specifically scientific research, and I’ve learned that a person’s quality of life and well-being enhances around nature,” Cannon continued. “When you get people involved in activities surrounding nature, the mindset is different.”
Walton said the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and the Douglas Center provides hiking trails, workshops, helping the rangers feed the animals and more. “We offer this on a regular basis, but this will be a part of the family summit. And we’re already having an open house for families to visit, so this summit will be just as informative,” he said.
Cannon said area speakers will include Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, representatives from area organizations and a family who lost a loved one to violence. Information booths on anti-violence and crime prevention measures will be available throughout the Douglas Center. Walton said families are encouraged to bring picnic lunches to enjoy outdoors. Food will also be sold during the summit.
“We want the community to understand that when crime happens it does not just affect the victims; it affects the criminal responsible, law enforcement, neighbors and neighborhoods and more. If we get people to see and understand that, I think we can succeed in decreasing criminal activities in our community,” Cannon said.