The writer of the following example said that he tended to use 20 words to express an idea when only 10 were needed, and asked me to look for redundant phrases.
Workshop 1: Empowerment and ColonizationMy revision uses 271 words instead of 383:
Due to a longstanding and overtly acknowledged breakdown in communications between community members and local service organizations, the workshop series addressed establishing more consistent communication between residents and members of their representative service agencies. Community residents and members of over 100 service agencies working in the area were invited to the initial meetings. These initial workshops were conducted in three-day training sessions, five total, throughout the first six months of the intervention, and focused on the general principles of the empowerment model. The key attending representatives were people who had witnessed the LA riots firsthand, such as the police and residents of Avalon Gardens, located at the center of the heaviest riot activity.
Establishing communication was not an easy matter given that the character of the housing project had been built to defend against a hostile outside world and that the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers who attended the workshop were the representatives of that hostility. Other attending local service providers served as more neutral, but often incapable or apathetic, representatives of the outside world. The community practitioners found themselves serving as the mediators of conflict resolution between these groups that became manifest around the expression of long-term trauma during the workshops.
The LAPD officers were attending as a part of the ìcommunity policeî mandate that was developed by the local government. The idea of community police is an example of a potentially effective but externally imposed solution to problems in the community. The authorities, targeting the fierce historical tension manifested in the riots, recognized that the gulf between LAPD officers and the people whom they served had widened as a result of the riots. Community policing seemed to be the answer to this problem. Many approaches to community empowerment have the potential to be felt as intrusions and impositions, rather than as genuine forms of empowerment and collaboration (Rappaport, 1981). Cultural studies thinkers refer to this imposition of the values of one group onto another as colonization (Fanon, 1967; Virilio & Lotringer, 1997). Within the Avalon Gardens community, each of the suggested intervention solutions, empowerment training, education, and community policing, were likely to repeat the very crisis that this community had reacted to in the first place: the residents had little sense of ownership of their community or their own lives.
Workshop 1: Empowerment and Colonization
In response to a long-standing, openly acknowledged schism in the community, the workshops focused on establishing consistent communication between residents and service agencies. Representatives from over 100 agencies serving the area were invited to the initial meetings. The workshops consisted of 5 three-day training sessions during the first 6 months of the intervention; the primary goal was to establish the general principles of the empowerment model. Key attendees had been firsthand witnesses of the riots, including police officers and residents of Avalon Gardens, where the worst violence occurred.
Establishing communication was difficult. Residents viewed their housing project as a protective shield against a hostile outside world, whose representatives included the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers attending the workshop. Other service providers were frequently viewed as being more neutral, but incapable or apathetic regarding neighborhood issues. The practitioners served as mediators among groups that were long-term participants in community trauma.
The attending LAPD officers were part of a local “community police” mandate. The community police concept is an example of a potentially effective but externally imposed solution to the widening gulf between police and the people they serve. As Rappaport (1981) notes, many approaches to community empowerment are viewed as intrusions and impositions rather than genuine efforts toward collaboration. In cultural studies, the imposition of values on a group is referred to as colonization (Fanon, 1967; Virilio & Lotringer, 1997). It was important for the practitioners to acknowledge that each of the suggested interventions in the Avalon Gardens situation (empowerment training, education, or community policing) had the potential to decrease rather than enhance the residents’ sense of ownership of their community.
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