NCOC Featured Discussion

From Gun Violence to Civic Health

A “Whole of City” approach to creating Chicago’s future

August 2, 2010
“From Gun Violence to Civic Health: A Whole of City Approach to Creating Chicago’s Future,” a report produced in partnership between the McCormick Foundation and the U.S. Army School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS), outlines an innovative approach to decreasing gun violence in Chicago’s streets. The material and research involved in the creation of this report came from two workshops the organizations sponsored in 2008.

Gun violence in Chicago is an increasingly severe issue that is directly correlated with the gang activity seen in the city. In 2007, the number of murders in Chicago exceeded 500, a five-year high for the city. A large majority of those murders were by gunfire.

The McCormick Foundation and SAMS “Whole of City” approach combats gun violence holistically by incorporating a multitude of institutions involved and affected by the vast issue of gun violence, addressing the many factors that both create and result from gun violence. They have called this approach the “Whole of City” approach, drawing its connection with the “Whole of Nation” approach the United States is employing in its war strategies overseas.

The report presents the multifaceted nature of the issue. A combination of public and private sector institutions evaluated the issue of gun violence in a variety of lights, and created a framework for solutions. The individuals who contributed to the issue identification ranged from gun violence experts to former gang members. They concluded that while some programs are effective, none identify and assess the root causes of gun violence, such as poverty, housing, healthcare, and familial disintegration. An effective solution requires an increased level of collaboration and coordination.

The report presents three major recommendations in its mission to reduce gun violence: to adopt the “Whole of City” approach in Chicago; ensure safety and security; and build/reinforce long-term civic health. It states that leaders involved must mobilize and combine to create a single leadership, “a single voice and a single conscience.” Youth must be presented with avenues of refuge and shelter, protecting them from influences and appeal of gangs. Finally, a common strategy for evaluation must be employed to ensure progress is being made.

The “Whole of City” approach is an innovative model that takes into consideration the abundance of issues and causes that create the complex problem of gun violence; it is a model that assesses and affects every level of society: from the individual, to the organizational, to the societal.
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