Peacemakers in a tough climate

There's not uncommonly a link between a down economy and a rise in violent crime, so the streetworkers based at the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence in Providence have their work cut out for them -- more so than usual.

Appropriately, Ed Fitzpatrick took up the streetworkers and their efforts in a column on Christmas:

In trying to broker peace, [Teny] Gross has heard the common refrain of what one side has done to the other. He has heard the grievances of the Israelis and Palestinians, the Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, the Providence Street Boyz and Oriental Rascals. He has heard them say: It has always been like this.

But for 7 years now in Providence and for 10 years before that as part of the antiviolence campaign known as the Boston Miracle, Gross has been pursuing change.

Gross, 42, of Providence, graduated with a master’s degree from Harvard Divinity School in 2001, and the new issue of Harvard Magazine contains an article about him and the institute. “My job is not pretty — it’s not sending kids to Harvard, or anything fancy,” Gross says in the magazine. “It’s about keeping kids in this city alive between the ages of 14 and 23.”

I've known Teny since we were both living in Boston, and I continue to be impressed by the streetworkers' efforts. For a profile I wrote about the group in 2003, click here.

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