Streets of Growth CEO Diane Peters and I have just returned from a very special trip to the east coast of America. I say special because this year marks the 20th anniversary of when I first ventured out to America to share gang intervention approaches I was innovating here in east London, and to gain some inspiring insights from some of the global leading practitioners in the states.
Since this time, it has led to an international relationship that has seen me return to the east coast over a dozen times with almost every trip ‘self-funded’ by myself and three that were financially supported by The Carnegie Foundation, Sir Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, Roca, with accommodation being provided by the wonderful home of our U.S. Patron Jean Horstman who is CEO of Interise.
Out of the many organisations I visited, the core organisations I found most inspiring and impacting have turned out to be the ones that are still thriving and leading the field today. What started out with going over to the other side of the Atlantic pond has led to an international collaboration that has benefitted both the UK and indeed America.
So why are these trips so important?
Well, the reasons are numerous with the ley being, to expand one’s own knowledge and experience through gaining a ‘Glocal’ view and understanding of the world in this field. Basically meaning, global and local. It is also important to understand that such trips are not simply about going over to another country and ‘nicking’ a method and copying it here in the UK! It’s more about sharing principles rather than pinching methods.
It is a two-way interaction and transaction, which starts with building relationships of trust where you get validation of your work, they get validation in theirs, and both are able to offer open and honest constructive criticisms to inform their work - something every country can find difficulty to get in their own localities due to organisational competing etc.
When you are a ‘Glocally’ minded practitioner you learn that there really is no one organisation nor model of approach to youth gangs and disaffection, only many pieces of the puzzle that society has to keep piecing together for a better world. And it is this puzzle that gets passed from one generation of practitioners to the next, and one community to another.