Project Overview & Phase 1

     On August 10, 2016, Mayor John Hamilton introduced a new City initiative to address growing community concerns about downtown safety and civility issues, because “our public spaces must be and must feel safe.” He observed that as “we come together as community members, we will encounter neighbors from all walks of life and must ensure that we are able to do so in a way that is safe and expresses the value that each of us brings to our community.” He announced the City had undertaken to study and make recommendations to address issues of aggressive panhandling and other unwelcome behaviors. Underlying these behavioral issues are problems of homelessness, substance abuse, and mental health.  The Mayor asked the Community Justice and Mediation Center (CJAM) to develop a public dialogue process as part of this initiative. CJAM is a non-partisan nonprofit organization that has provided community mediation services and training for over 20 years in Bloomington and Monroe County.  Click here for an overview summary of the project.

  Phase 1 - Definning the Dynamics
     In the first stage of the process, the project Steering Committee met with a total of 112 participants from seven stakeholder groups (homeless persons and panhandlers, organizations that provide services to them, business owners, patrons and public who frequent downtown, neighborhood and advocacy organizations, government agencies, and the justice system).  CJAM identified these seven groups to get differing perspectives, viewpoints, and experiences related to downtown safety, civility, and justice. CJAM did not define the issues for the participants, but asked participants to identify and frame the behaviors, dynamics, and issues as they see them. 

We ask that you answer the three questions CJAM posed to the focus group members:

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* 1. What has been your experience? (What do you see happening? What are your concerns?)

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* 2. What is not working?

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* 3. What is working well?