Some may remember that Meet Me at the Bell Tower was originally supposed to be a one time event on November 18, 2011. We never would have guessed that 3 years, and nearly 200 rallies later, we are still gathering trying to emphasize that we can stop violence if we lead with our example. It has been a sounding board for community to share their experiences, have their voices heard and connect with like minded individuals who are ready and willing to take action. MM@BT has also become a place where other community initiatives can be born and supported. Some of the exciting #BellTowerFamily initiatives include
- NEON – North End Opportunity Network – youth group in the St John’s neighbourhood
- All Good in the Hood Winnipeg – a round dance non-violence initiative inspired by a motivational speaker, acted out by our community in over ten inner city parks weekly in the summer of 2014.
- Fearless R2W – a child and family services parent focused grassroots initiative. It is aimed at building the political literacy of parents and their advocates when dealing with CFS and meets bi-weekly.
- 100 Basketballs – a new initiative aimed at gathering 100 (or more) basketballs, shorts and basketball shoes for young people in the North End, concluding in a tournament and family fun day where the gear will be distributed. More info coming soon.
We have also had the opportunity to connect with many individuals over the last 3 years that have helped us brain storm ways we can be safer in our community
- Drag the Red – if the authorities won’t drag the red river, the communtiy must come forward and do it ourselves.
- North End Ambassadors – helped us make a safety plan and also currently patrol the streets in the community
- Bear Clan Patrol – recently reformed will also be helping to monitor streets starting in the dufferin area
- SAFE Workers of Tomorrow – Assisted in informing us about Worker’s right and also about different types of ways to be safe from hazards in the work place and community
- Unions and Labour Groups – have assisted in various ways from talking about current events in the city, to helping us talka bout ways of preventing bullying and harassment
- Winnipeg Police Service – have assisted in arson-prevention forums as well as our recent Street Proof planning sessions
The last and most important folks to mention are the youth of Bell Tower. There is a core group of young ladies and occasionally young men who have sounded their voices and the Bell Tower has reacted accordingly. We have learned the importance of listening to our youth and so, if you take anything away from our story, please take away the fact that we try always to make space for the voices and ideas of our children and youth.
Tonight, another unexpected twist to our non-violence movement comes to life. Bell Tower Book Club. This evening from 8-9pm, bring a book, or book recommendation and be ready for a conversation about how these books can help us respond to ignorance with intelligence.
There’s a reason we start our rallies by asking the kids to hang the banner of HOPE.