RISE—which stands for Reimagining Intimacy through Social Engagement—works to ensure community-based gun violence prevention efforts have more tools and resources to prevent and respond to intimate partner violence. Gun violence and intimate partner violence are often viewed as separate problems requiring different responses, but neighborhoods impacted by high rates of gun violence also have the highest levels of reported domestic violence incidents. Access to a gun makes it five times more likely that a partner experiencing abuse will be killed.
The RISE Project is part of New York City’s anti-violence Crisis Management System and is run in partnership with the Mayor’s Office to Prevent Gun Violence. On this episode of In Practice, three members of the RISE team—Hailey Nolasco, director, Al-Tabar Hudgins, uptown coordinator, and Karolin Betances, downtown coordinator—talk to Rob Wolf about the origins of the initiative, how it differs from a more conventional law enforcement approach, and how they engage people in conversations about the important but hard-to-talk-about topic of intimate partner violence.
The following is a transcript of the podcast:
HAILEY NOLASCO: You'll see that community violence and even thinking about gun violence has dramatically gone down, but when we're looking at intimate partner violence, domestic violence, those numbers have remained stagnant. They have not enjoyed these significant reductions the same way other forms of violence have, which means that the interventions that currently exist although well-intentioned, shouldn't be the only solutions.
ROB WOLF: Hello. I'm Rob Wolf and this is In Practice, the podcast from the Center for Court Innovation, where we talk to the people who are rethinking how our civil and criminal legal systems work and contributing fresh ideas that are making our communities safer and stronger. Today I'm privileged to be joined by some of my colleagues at the Center for Court Innovation who are doing incredible groundbreaking work in communities around New York to address the twin epidemics of gun violence and intimate partner violence.
Gun violence and intimate partner violence are often viewed as separate problems requiring different responses, but neighborhoods impacted by high rates of gun violence also have some of the highest levels of reported domestic violence incidents. Access to a gun makes it five times more likely that a partner experiencing abuse will be killed. My guests today are with RISE, which stands for Reimagining Intimacy through Social Engagement, and they work to ensure community-based gun violence prevention efforts have more tools and resources to prevent and respond to intimate partner violence.
Hailey Nolasco is the director of RISE. Al-Tabar Hudgins is RISE's uptown coordinator, and Karolin Betances is RISE's downtown coordinator. I just really want to thank you guys so much for joining me today. We're talking over Skype and I'm looking forward to having a great conversation about your work.
HAILEY NOLASCO: Great thank you so much for having us. We're happy to be on this call.
AL-TABAR HUDGINS: Yeah, definitely. Thank you. I appreciate that.
WOLF: Hailey, let me start with you. Maybe you can just give an introduction to RISE. What's the idea behind RISE and how did it come about?
NOLASCO: I'll take you all back a few years. RISE is a very innovative project and I'm super excited and I'm elated to be directing this project. I have a team of super capable, super amazing, intelligent people that are really working on the ground to really reimagine how communities are really responding to intimate partner violence. I'm super proud to be leading this effort with them, but they're all leaders in their own rights. I know that you're all going to hear some amazing insight from two of my amazing team members, both Karolin and Al-Tabar.
Just to bring us before we even got here a few years ago, I have just come back to the Center for Court Innovation. I'm very happy to be back. I had recently just came back from working at the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice, specifically in the office to prevent gun violence. Prior to that, I was at the Center for Court Innovation where I was actually working under a federal grant. It was a Byrne federal grant where we were actually working on a hyper-local project in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, where we were really looking to assess the intersections of gun violence and domestic violence.
This is kind of where the idea of RISE initially had started a few years back, but it was more in a hyper-local sense where we were looking at two niche developments and really trying to assess how does intimate partner violence intersect with gun violence in these spaces. It was a very interesting project. We were able to survey over 300 community members. We had stakeholder meetings. We actually had a group of individuals of stakeholders that would meet on a monthly basis to really give us a lot of feedback about what are the issues that they're seeing on the ground, community perception around this issue, and it really helped us to inform the planning process of what we were hoping to create back then.
Unfortunately, because a lot of changes in the federal government, we were not able to get funding for the specific project at that time, but when I did take on a role at the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice, we were actually able to work in partnership with CCI to revisit looking at the intersections of gun violence and domestic violence from a more macro level, city-wide level, which was super amazing. We were able to really think about this in seeing that... well, when we were working, initially we were doing this in Bedford-Stuyvesant in partnership with S.O.S Bed-Stuy in Bedford-Stuyvesant and now we could actually look at this with intentionality around the city with all of our Crisis Management System partners and see how we can support them and just amplifying the work that they're already doing to respond to and prevent intimate partner violence.
That's where we pretty much started this work, just getting a little bit of background. We're happy that we were able to bring it on the macro side, still working in conjunction with all of the partners from before. We're happy to be able to elevate this and amplify this project.
WOLF: You just mentioned S.O.S. and the Crisis Management System, and those are both programs related to preventing gun violence and responding to gun violence. As you've said, Hailey, your work revolves around the intersection of gun violence and intimate partner violence. I wonder if really any of you could answer this question. What's the connection between gun violence and intimate partner violence?
NOLASCO: When we were thinking about really assessing this intersection was like, all right, since we're kind of coming out of the gun violence realm in this conversation, we're talking about like, if we really want to be intentional about saying, hey, we're trying to really eradicate gun violence in our communities, right? We can't say that we're being intentional about doing that if we're turning a blind eye to one of the issues that definitely have a huge correlation with gun violence, that being IPV, intimate partner violence.
We really wanted to find ways to incorporate that because we could think about so many different ways and I'm sure Al-Tabar and Karolin we'll talk about it where gun violence and intimate partner violence intersect very often. We definitely wanted to be able to equip all of our partners with the tools and resources to really help them with that work, but also have ourselves as supportive service to also be able to provide crisis intervention support when incidents like that do occur.
HUDGINS: I feel like the intersections exist at so many levels, right? And it's so great that we're working with the CMS system to acknowledge these intersections and to bridge the gap, right? Because the first intersection is the intersection of the fact that it's the same systemic issues that lead to gun violence, that leads to intimate partner violence. How do we work to address the systemic issues in a way that addresses both community issues.
The second way I think about it is that, when there's a house where family violence is happening inside the house or intimate partner violence is happening inside the house, that the young person in that house is more likely to take part in community violence, so what we talk about is gun violence. I think those are the ways we're like, we kind of... like the lofty way we kind of have to think about it to see it, but I think the most simple way we see the intersection is that so many gun violence incidences are connected to intimate partner violence in the sense of like it's rooted in intimate partner violence.
There was intimate partner violence incident that on some level became connected to a gun. Like you said the presence of a gun in a household increases the likelihood of homicide in that relationship 500% or even like what happens if the partner violence happens in a household and one of the part of the relationship has a family member or friend that is involved with community violence and they tell them about the incident, right? A lot of times that incident of gun violence gets reported as only gun violence, but there's never a full look amount of like what happened, what were some of the factors that led to that moment happening? And so many times intimate partner violence is one of the original factors, and it just gets left out of the conversation.
WOLF: Al-Tabar you said that there are also some underlying factors, the same kind of underlying factors that might fuel gun violence, also fuel intimate partner violence. What kinds of factors are you talking about?
HUDGINS: I think... When we think about lack of resources and convenience, right? Lack of economic resources, but most importantly, I think the lack of social, emotional learning, right? And these conversations about like, how do we deal with emotion, right? What does accountability look like? Who has the system told us is in power and who is disempowered or disenfranchised and what are we doing in our own communities to like replicate those systems that tell us who is in power, who's not in power, as well as having conversations about like what health relationship should not look like. Also having conversations about like, who do systems tell us is important, who do system tells that is okay to hurt? And how do we undo that?
WOLF: Let's talk a little bit more about the Cure Violence sites and the Crisis Management System so people can get an understanding of that because you work so closely with them. You both take a public health approach to addressing violence. What does taking a public health approach mean? Maybe Karolin, maybe you want to tackle that question.
KAROLIN BETANCES: Yeah. The Cure Violence approach, which is a public health approach is the same routes when it comes to disease control. They attack and interrupt conflicts. They identify and treat high-risk individuals and they change social norms. Those are like the three things that they go by. As a wraparound service for the Crisis Management System, we take the same approach, right? We work in the same catchment areas that the Cure Violence sites do since those are also the same areas that the high levels of intimate partner violence are at, right? We're attempting to be working with people who cause harm, the harm doers, and helping them become accountable and we try to educate community on healthy answers to resolve conflicts.
That's really what the public health approach is and a lot of what RISEs doing is also based on like in community. That's what we talk about when you're dealing with a public health approach.
WOLF: Does that mean that you're offering specific services or does it mean that you are making home visits? Like what does it actually look like when you are trying to interrupt the pattern of violence or something that gets started before it steamrolls or turns into something worse?
NOLASCO: What I would say here, Rob, is that... just taking a little step back when we're referring to the Crisis Management System, we support them in many ways to the way that I was saying before that we're really working to transform how we're responding to intimate partner violence. We actually take from the Cure Violence model a lot in the work that we do when we're trying to really do the shifting community norms piece.
When we're talking about gun violence, right? It's just like they're disrupting the norms, that gun violence is normal. It's something that I hear in my community very often. When an incident of gun violence has occurred, they have this event that's called a shooting response. They usually do this within 72 hours of the incident occurring to disrupt the community to... they'll usually get on like bull horns or like on stereo speakers and just like go into a community and say, hey, a shooting just happened. This is not normal. Let's show you a different way.
What we take, we actually try to take the silencing out of domestic violence, intimate partner violence where we're like intimate partner violence is not an issue that should remain silent. This is something we should all be talking about in our communities. We should be talking about how we should have healthier relationships, how we should support one another and also how can we hold people accountable in a healthy way? Another main portion of our work is really working with people who are causing that harm in their relationships as well.
We take from the Cure Violence piece about the social norms piece and then we also bring that idea that RISE has where it's just like, we're really working with people that are causing this harm. Also very similar to the Cure Violence model where they bring credible messengers. People who have lived experiences may have once been that shooter or may have once been that person that was formally incarcerated, may have once been that person that was in a gang or also may just be that person that's just well-respected in their communities.
Although the Credible Messengers and Cure Violence projects do have violence interrupters that really go out and actually mediate conflicts that can escalate to gun violence, our coordinators are not actually like interrupters in a sense, but they do go out there to really try to disrupt that norm and saying that, "Hey, we're really talking about how do we make our communities safer and more resilient from the IPV lens." We'll host community events. We'll just go out into communities and do popups. We'll host conversations.
I would say our intervention will come in since we're not on handedly interrupting an incident of IPV, is that the actual Crisis Management System site will alert us of an event of someone needing support that has IPV related support that has come to them, and then we would then connect them with our coordinator or our coordinator would have just been connected since they're already at the sites or supporting those sites and remain in contact pretty often with them throughout the week and throughout the days, then we will create an assessment of like, once we've created the connection, we then meet with the person to understand what their needs are. Their immediate needs, build a safety plan, whether it's the person that's causing the harm or the person that is also being harmed as well, because we're not going to turn away supports to them either.
That's pretty much what we'll do in that space. Like how can we connect them if it's emergency planning, if it's transitional services to another home, even if it is touching base with some of the more historical traditional ways of dealing with IPV, but also letting them know that there's different ways that we could support them as well. That's pretty much what our supports look like in a nutshell when it comes to like the assistance and support with the Crisis Management System citywide.
WOLF: Thank you for explaining that, Hailey. Let me ask you, you're having conversations with people about a really difficult subject, intimate partner violence. I wonder how you engage people. I could see someone in crisis coming to you if they don't feel safe and they... I think, I imagine they'd be more willing if they're feeling, in that crisis moment to have a conversation, but the people who are perpetrating the violence, I would think aren't used to talking about that.
I guess I would think it's hard to have a conversation about that. How do you create safe spaces for people to share? How do you get conversations like that going?
NOLASCO: Well, I definitely would say that this is definitely... this is a difficult topic. It's hard to get, and I don't want to say it's buy-in, but it's very hard to get buy-in to like, hey, we're doing a community survey. Would you like to talk about intimate partner violence? You usually go like, what? What's going on here, but you'd be surprised that community has been really open to wanting to even take the survey and even talk about it and they'll even allude to a situation that they have seen or witnessed. People, it's just like they want to talk about it. They just need the spaces to be able to be comfortable to bring it up, or just have somebody initiate the conversation.
I'll even allude to Al-Tabar, because he's actually been... he's going to be starting up some more gender-based workshops, but he's also been hosting a lot of workshops that were with men or even with youth.
HUDGINS: Hailey, I think what you said hits the truth on the head, which is the fact that like even though those conversations are difficult, what I've kind of realized about difficult conversations that people are having is that these are conversations that people want to have, right? I know the way the question was framed was like, how do you get people who cause harm to be comfortable having these conversations?
I think that if we come into a space, like, hey, here to talk about people causing harm and you're a harm causer, and we want it to... it's like, okay, I'm turned off. I don't want to be involved in this conversation. I don't like what I'm being called. However, the conversations that we bring into spaces undeviating. It might look like a workshop or it might look like a piece in paint, or it might look like a movie screening where we have a conversation about the relationship themes that come from that movie. It can look a bunch of different ways.
However, these conversations that we're having are more based in having these conversation about what are healthy relationship norms, what is unhealthy relationship? What does an abuse relationship look like? How do we tell the difference again, back to the idea of like who system says okay to harm, right? Like these conversations about like, what ideas do you believe about the roles of women and relationships? What I did to believe about the roles of men in relationships. When we say the roles of men and women, who are we leaving out?
We might be leaving the LGBTQIA+ community might be left out in a conversation that looks so heteronormative. How do we change this conversation that we're having about men and women's role in relationship to include everybody? Right? It's so many things that we have to address in a conversation to bring people to the point of maybe having the buy-in and the comfort with us to say, oh, as you talk about a decent relationship, or as you talk about unhealthy relationships, one thing that was said by Al-Tabar or Karolin or Nat or Hailey or Ryan, because there's so many members of the team. I want to make sure I say everybody's name right. Or even Hailey or Julie, right?
That thing you said resonates with me and that was something I did and maybe I want to talk about it now because I'm comfortable with you because you came to this space with this honest conversation, not about, hey, you're a bad person, you're a harm doer, about, hey, these are these norms. These are these norms we have not doing this, because he's known to put on his by system. Let's unpack them. As these things come up to you and they feel personal for you, then let's talk one-on-one because if we talk on one-on-one then we have a space that have a conflict that's more tailored to you as opposed to tailored to the general community.
I think for me, the most important thing we do to make sure that space is kept is two things. We open every space with like group agreements, which is like such a... it comes up as like such a like... that's such a small thing to do, but it's so important because unless people know that this is a safe space and if you do need a moment to step away from this conversation, because something in this conversation has impacted you personally. You have the space to, and you know that everybody in this space is going to respect you and we're going to make sure that the people in the space respect you and that leads to the second thing I think is so important, is that we do our best to make sure that we're educated and the systems that play a part in intimate partner violence, the conditions that create intimate partner violence, what the dynamics of abuse relationship and an unhealthy relation look like.
Because as statements may come up in a space that are honestly offensive to a person who may have experienced one of these things, we know that we have the tools at our disposal to address the space and let the people in the space know that that's out of line with what we believe and we want to make sure everybody in the space knows that the beliefs are rise around intimate partner violence and the understanding of what intimate partner violence looks like will be things that allow people to be safe in this conversation, whether you've experienced harm or this might have caused harm.
NOLASCO: I would also say to that piece of working with people that are causing harm, or at least engaging that demographic in the community members, also working with our Crisis Management System partners has proven to really be helpful in that space as well, because they already have the credibility within their communities. They already have the footprint. In working with them and having that connection helps us get the community to warm up to us and know that we're here in a genuine space because we're already connected to an organization that they already have established some trust with, and oftentimes we're working with the same population, whether it's causing harm in a sense of related to gun violence, or maybe somebody is already connected to their programs that already perpetuating harm in different aspects of their lives.
In that space, they may already be working with them. They may already have an outreach worker, but that outreach worker may say, you know what? You're also exhibiting harm in your relationships. You may want to reach out to Karolin, Al-Tabar, Hailey or one of my other coordinators and really connecting with them to see how we can also give them supplemental support as well, and just letting them know that we're here to support you. We sense judgment. We're coming from a holistic space and from community in general, we just start off with the forefront, just letting community members know that their voice is really required for meaningful public safety solutions.
We can't just helicopter into community and just say, we know all of the solutions, we know how to fix the issues, because that would be so far from the truth. We definitely value their input and want to always have continuous conversations with members throughout the communities, throughout the city and to really gauge their feedback on what they need and how do they perceive this issue.
WOLF: I know you guys are trying to promote and support healthy relationship norms. Hailey, before the interview you had mentioned to me that you engage in a kind of myth busting. I wonder if you can give some examples of what kinds of myths you've encountered as you are trying to talk about what makes for a healthy relationship.
NOLASCO: Karolin, do you want to give some examples?
BETANCES: I was actually going to pass it off to Al-Tabar because we recently did a poster in billboard campaign, which we will find over in New York City soon, but Al-Tabar had a catchy one where he was saying we can have healthy relationships in life, not just in movies. I don't know, Al-Tabar, do you want to further explain on that, because I love that quote. I'm like about to get on the T-shirt. It's one of my favorite quotes right now. I don't know if you want to go into that.
HUDGINS: So many times when I've been present in these conversations with community about like what a healthy relationship looks like, a lot of times there's this perception that when... we're talking about healthy relationships, we're talking about a perfect relationship. The conversation might look like, well, perfect relationship don't exist. These things only exist in Disney. These are only like the movie relationships, right? And no real relationship looks like that.
It's so important that the conversation that we have with community around health relationship norms, and especially like busting the myths is that healthy relationships are imperfect relationships, right? Like healthy relationships are relationships that go through ups and downs. They have turmoil, right? There may be moments where there's a lapse in communication. There may be moments where the trust waivers, right? There may be moments where all these things happen but as a team, we're both working to make sure that we're existing in a healthy space in this relationship, right?
If the trust is waving because of something I did, I know that it's my time to step up and so the road to rebuild is trust in my partner, right? As the communication lapse, we both know, okay, when did I stop listening to you? When did you stop listening to me? How can we go back to the state of us both listening to each other, right? Because it's unrealistic to think that there's never going to be a time in relationship when there's an issue, right? When we talk about healthy relationships, that one myth that's so important that we bust, is the myth that healthy means perfect and healthy just means always working to be helpful.
WOLF: Yeah. Relationships are hard. You are very community-based. You are working in the community and listening to the community and engaging with people on the ground, where they're at. That's a very different response than I think what people think of as the traditional response to domestic violence and intimate partner violence. The more traditional response that I think people think about is the justice system response. Calling 911, the police coming, going to court, orders of protection. How does that fit with your work, presumably in very dangerous situations there's room for those kinds of responses, but you're expanding the toolkit it seems to me. You're offering additional resources and ways of dealing with this.
Could you talk about that, the relationship between RISE and what we think of as the more traditional response?
NOLASCO: It's an interesting relationship because there's well-intentioned agencies, programs that are out there. They're doing great work within the limitations of what they are able to do, but oftentimes... and I'll say like this one, we're looking at overall community violence, right? And we're looking at it over the span of the past decade. You'll see that community violence and even thinking about gun violence has dramatically gone down. Although now with the pandemic everything has happened around COVID, we have seen some spikes, but generally when we're looking across this past decade, you'd see that there's been significant decreases that have been celebrated.
It's weird to say the word celebrated because as long as there's one person being harmed, there's still work to do. Each number is associated with a person, but when we're looking at intimate partner violence, domestic violence, those numbers have remained stagnant. They have not enjoyed these significant reductions the same way other forms of violence have, which means that the interventions that currently exist, although well intentioned shouldn't be the only solutions, right?
I'm sure there are spaces where they have been helpful but for the most part, when we talk to people throughout the community, which all of my members of my team and myself had been doing, they either don't know about the resources that are available outside of calling 911, or they have already gone to a lot of these agencies that work towards ameliorating the effects of intimate partner violence, but have had negative interactions with government or these other organizations, whether it's, they may not have capacity or they feel like they're being treated like another number, or they're being further traumatized through all these different avenues, right?
Where there's this like now I've put in an order of protection since now I have children. Now, ACS is involved and I always say that the more touch points you have with government, the worst off you are, right? I definitely want other members of my team to really jump in on this part also, but definitely just saying that with us and how we go about it is that we try to just let community members know that there's more out there because oftentimes the solution is not... they don't want to leave their relationships. They want to just find a better way, but definitely... Karolin, would you like to also touch point on this?
BETANCES: Yeah. There's some noise in the background, I do apologize. I don't know what they're doing upstairs, but like Hailey said, I like to think that RISE is taking more of a transformative approach. A lot of the time what's being offered to people is very limited and not always options that they want, which Hailey did a little bit. People want to stop the violence from having their relations or leave the relations of safety, not to have the other person punish or potentially harm.
We also can't throw away the people who causes the harm. We shouldn't have to either, and people are either removed from the community or punishment when harm happens, which what we should be doing instead, and what RISE is aiming to do, is to guide them in the path to accountability, adjust the harm that was done, understand why it happened and what conditions allowed it to happen in the first place.
WOLF: Let me ask you how you all got involved with this work, because it seems to me like incredibly important, but also very challenging work. What drew you to this work? Maybe each of you could give your answer to that question.
HUDGINS: If I'm being honest, I got RISE's work completely by accident. I had been working at a job. A job that keeps money flowing in, right? Through me I was at the job just taking a super leadership role in a way that I shouldn't have taken a leadership role. I was telling my coworkers like, hey man, is this your dream? If it's not your dream, then what do we... we all need to follow... like let's all follow our dream and leave, right? Like just talking that way, and a supervisor came and was like, oh, you should go. I ended up getting fired from that job.
It's almost like this beautiful happenstance. I ran into somebody out Muskego. I want to make sure, I always say her name when I speak about like opportunity that was given to me. I ran into Muskego and she connected me to the Mayor's Office to Prevent Gun Violence and they were doing like a youth program or a peer leadership program at the time. I became a part of that and it was specifically about gun violence and young people being the voice of how we address gun violence in our communities. Through that I was able to be connected to the office of NGBV, they changed their name, so I want to make sure I said it correctly.
Through that I was able to be connected to the office to end gender-based violence. In that role I was hired there as a peer educator, which was kind of the same work, right? Like young people, having conversations with young people about the... and now the work with specifically partner violence about intimate partner violence and about like these norms and what are your rights in a relationship? And what is a healthy relationship and how do you navigate that? And what do you do when you feel like these rights you have in relationship had been taken away from you by a partner. How do we navigate technology and our relationships safely? What does consent look like?
That's such an important conversation to have with young people because just like messaging around relationship they're getting consent conversations just like, as it comes to them, as opposed to like being active, engaged, in conflicts about consent, right? And these are the conflicts that they want to have. We're doing that work. Again, it's just like this continual connection. I ended up in a space where I was connected to CCI and now the guy that was open to me was this job that collaborates the two areas I've been working in, basically since I was 20 years old.
I think I was 24 at this point, when last I was working at CCI. 25, 26. I've been doing it for like... just working in both of those areas for a while. This job now allows me to work in a space where we're having conversations that address both of these things. We're working in both areas of this issue. We're actually addressing the intersection in a way that the work I was doing was going wasn't so much less than the section before it's so dope to be a part of this.
The work I'm doing now is more of intervention, but it still allows me to do the prevention work because I really am like somebody who just loves to do the conversation or prevention work, but it also allows me the interventional work as well. I ended up here by accident of the universe. However, I'm so happy that that actually happened because I love doing this work and it's so important to me.
WOLF: That's a great story. It's like by chance, a certain randomness and then you fall into something you really love and you develop the specialty. That's great. Karolin, how about you? How did you get involved?
BETANCES: Yeah, I was just mentioning this to someone else earlier, but I feel like violence, experiencing violence is part of like every New York City person's origin story. Like it's somewhere in their story. They have experienced whether firsthand or like just seeing it, they've experienced violence, right? If I experience violence in my neighborhood, I'm sure that other people experience it too because we're living in similar neighborhoods.
I grew up in public housing, so this was something that I saw often too, but what I don't talk about is the support and love that's also coming from these communities and that's important. Love has strengthened my resolve to bring back healthier alternatives to resolve conflicts back to my community and to get to the root on why these things are happening in the first place. I actually started off interning at CCI with Hailey, which is fine because I never expected us to be back where we're at, where she's my supervisor. I'm like working for her, funny 360, but I actually started interning with her on the best anti-law on this project, which is what... this was modeled after.
I interned with her and then I moved on to working at S.O.S., which is one the… one of the New York state's first anti-gun violence project and it's also part of the Crisis Management System right now. I was at S.O.S. I was a case manager and then I moved on to being a community liaison. When this project came back up, I was like, it makes sense for me to join it because I was interning and I was doing the work with Hailey. I was on the ground with Hailey so I'm just like, it just makes sense for me to join it and what better way to bring back these healthy alternatives to my neighborhood if I'm learning them myself and I can just bring back the information.
WOLF: And Hailey, how about you?
NOLASCO: Just hearing Al-Tabar and Karolin speak about the reasons why they're in this work just make me feel... again, it makes me feel so full of joy around, and just also reminding me that I really do have this great team that's really deeply invested into this work and have all had like their own experiences with why they want to be that change that they seek throughout their community. I just wanted to like shout them out really quickly for just sharing their stories.
For me, what brings me to this work is that... so I've come from the Cure Violence world. Prior to working at the Center for Court Innovation, I had worked at another Cure Violence program that's been doing a lot of work throughout Brooklyn, but had really started there footing with the CMS system in East Flatbush, and that was under Gangsta's Making Astronomical Community Changes, G-MACC for short. They also have another site in Fort Greene right now as well, where they're really supporting more women houses, Ingersoll and Farragut.
I really started my footing with the Crisis Management System, Cure Violence world around 2014, 2015, because myself, I was interested and attracted to the work because when I was younger, when we're thinking about youth I was that young person that had a lot of adverse at risk behaviors when I was younger having been gang involved and having been involved in just experiencing gun and gang violence from a different lens. That's what brought me in to being interested in wanting to support the Crisis Management System work, but what also makes this specific project near and dear to my heart is because although I... and I just always like to be transparent in what I say.
I always have like a weird... It's important for us to support survivors and have a survivor based lens but even though I've experienced intimate partner violence myself, I'm just still weird with the... I'm a survivor. I'm just weird with that piece and that's also maybe... might be a part of my healing as well, but that's what brings me to this work and this is why I'm very invested in really looking at the intersections of gun violence and intimate partner violence because I've experienced them both. That's why I'm so interested and deeply invested in the work that I do together with my team.
HUDGINS: I also wondered like to Hailey's like what she was saying about like having a great team. When I was doing peer leadership work at those gun violence, Hailey was one of the leaders there. She was somebody who was a part of the team that had took us on. I would always see Hailey and say hello to Hailey and Hailey will be a part of things we did. It was always so dope to see people who look like me in these types of positions of power, but as I've come into CCI, this is when I got to hear like Hailey's story more and hearing Hailey's story even makes it like more dope about my connection to her when I was younger.
Like wow, not only was she somebody who looked like me and now there were people who looked like me making these decisions, but these are people who look like me, who came from communities that looked like the community I came from in a real way, and like really had these types of experiences. Every time Hailey tells her story, I'm just like, wow, like this is so dope, the way that all these connections happen.
NOLASCO: Thank you for that Al-Tabar, and you just seen like our team, when we look at the team, we reflect the community because we're credible in our own. Where it's just like the members of my community are comprised in... obviously this is very intentional, but are comprised of black and brown people that have had experiences whether they've lived in public housing or been affected by gun violence, intimate partner violence, or do you know, just have been in these spaces and they understand they're from these... they're not working on this project from a theoretical lens. They're really like living it on an everyday basis. Like, oh, actually, what happened to my block the other day, like yeah, this is real.
My team really comes with this background of knowledge that... it's just so interesting that now we're just being able to work on addressing these issues from this non-traditional very innovative new project. I'm just happy to have all of us together and also just happy to be here to speak about the project and where we're seeing this going.
WOLF: Well, it's amazing listening to you guys because you're doing fascinating work and it's really clear you guys know what you're talking about, both from your own experience and the work that you've been doing for so many years, and then what you've been doing here just within RISE, what you've been learning. I wanted to ask you just to kind of wrap up, the program is relatively new and so I wonder what lies ahead. I know you're still been in some respects putting things into place. Going forward, what do you see in the future as far as where you want the program to go and what you're planning?
BETANCES: So RISE has been taking a community approach to interrupt the violence and my hope is that when the quarantine is over we can continue doing that, but also focusing on working with people causing harm and helping them be on that path to accountability that we were talking about, that we've been talking about a lot and going back to the basics, right? What is a good apology, talk about communication skills. What are the small steps that people could take and what are the large steps they could take?
Really focusing on getting to the root of these issues. We'll do in the community work that we're doing, but just making it... just expanding our reach really. That's really what my hope is once the quarantine is over. Of course, we don't know when that's going to happen, but hopefully sooner than later.
NOLASCO: Yeah. Definitely, especially that our project is so community-based. Now that we're working virtually, we have to understand that not everyone is privileged. I think when we were... and I'm just saying we, not just our project but like the city in general, like sometimes we take for granted a lot of the privileges that we may have, or just like, okay, we'll just go virtually on Zoom or we'll do this, or we'll do that, but understanding that a lot of the communities that we're serving, the demographics that we work with on a daily basis, that many of us are a part of, may not have access to working internet that's like good enough to go on Zoom or maybe somebody might feel intimidated by having to use the internet and things like that.
For us, it's just, we can't wait for the pandemic to... just for this all to just be a part of the past so that we can really get back to... and I give up. We have been out in community now, as we've been phasing phase one and phase two. We've been coming back out in community, but we worry about the winter season that's coming up and how we're still going to be able to keep our feet on the ground and really reaching out to individuals that need the support, but what I really see us going and it's just, again, increasing our intentionality where it's just like, okay, we're really working on changing the social norms and we really wanted to work with people who are causing harm. Where else can we insert ourselves? Where else can we really be working with these individuals that really need to have self-reflection from someone that's not forcing them to be talking to us because we're not a mandated project.
That's also what makes us, and we should've mentioned this earlier that we're working with people from harm and what makes us different from other projects is that we're not working from a mandated space. We're not court mandated or anything like that. Really trying to find those avenues of where we can reach out to individuals. I really see this project not only working in community, but working in different communities, meaning like jails and seeing how we can really insert ourselves to people that maybe fighting a case right now, or maybe doing some time with a DV related, IPV related issue or case. I really see us going into that round. I'm very, very optimistic and seeing what that I can look like and very interested to see where that'll take us.
BETANCES: I just wanted to add on to what Hailey was saying, but I think this is what we were kind of were talking about before, but I also would like for us to eventually become one of those models that people do use, right? We talk about the traditional models that people have been using with domestic violence and intimate partner violence and how that have been working, right? Because IPV has remained stagnant.
What would it look like for RISE to become one of those model, for RISE to become a sustainable approach to intimate partner violence. I'm just like really interested in us growing. I think Al-Tabar was talking about this too earlier, about us growing nationwide... what was that Al-Tabar, you was mentioning?
HUDGINS: Oh, yeah. I was saying that... to the point of being a Cure Violence wraparound service, right? The same way that the Cure Violence model has spread. The possibility of us spreading with the Cure Violence model in a way that all Cure Violence programs, not only in New York but in Chicago and all other places they exist, having this type of wraparound service that allows this gap that exists, which is serving that space in between, that intersect is upon the violence and gun violence has failed not only in our communities but nationally, internationally.
WOLF: Well, I know one way you guys get the word out, is through Instagram. You do a lot of live things on Instagram. Maybe you want to share how people can find out more about you through your Instagram and maybe some other places too if you have other social feeds.
BETANCES: We are on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. You can find us by... we're at the RISE Project New York City. RISE Project NYC really, RISE Project NYC. Our Twitter name is the same and you'll find us at the RISE Project in Facebook. Yeah. Our social media is one of the ways that we do try to reach out to people and we're posting content about what is a healthy relationship like, what is intimate partner violence, especially since it's Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
We're posting content about what is IPV, what are the signs to IPV? How to identify. How do you hold yourself accountable if you're causing harm in a relationship? We're also doing lives with people which we do it every Thursday at 7:00 PM, so catch us this Thursday but we do lives where everyone what people were doing like interviews with other organizations doing the work, and also people who are experiencing things. Experiencing what violence in the neighborhoods, talking to real people about real things, real conversations.
WOLF: Great. Well, I just want to thank you all three of you for joining me today on In Practice. It's really been interesting to hear you guys, and you guys are doing incredibly important work and I'm proud to work at the Center for Court Innovation with all of you. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast.
NOLASCO: Thank you for having us. I'll also say that if anyone is interested in receiving our newsletter, we do have a text line. If you text RISE to 55444 you'd directly be connected to our mailing lists. We definitely encourage everyone to text us so you can be in the loop of what services we're able to provide, resources and just general community events.
HUDGINS: I don't know if I missed this part if you already said it, but also on the Instagram RISE Project, MRC that Karoline had mentioned, we go live every Thursday at 7:00 PM now. I just want to make sure whichever is right.
BETANCES: At 7:00 PM.
HUDGINS: Yeah, that'd be Thursday 7:00 PM. Sometimes it will be two RISE members having a conversation. Other times it will be us inviting a community partner into having this conversation, maybe even a community member to be involved in the conversation with us. Again, if you are looking to have that in the moment interaction with RISE, we are live on Instagram, Instagram RISE project NYC every Thursday at 7:00.
WOLF: Fantastic. Thank you so much, guys. I've been speaking to Hailey Nolasco who's the director of RISE, and Al-Tabar Hudgins who's the uptown coordinator, and Karolin Betances is the downtown coordinator of RISE. I'm Rob Wolf with the Center for Court Innovation and this is our In Practice podcast.
Don't forget to subscribe on your favorite podcasting app. You can learn more about the Center for Court Innovation at our website, www.courtinnovation.org. Thanks so much for listening.