PARC Peacemaking Initiatives

PARC utilizes a four-step, data-driven process to identify, design, and evaluate interventions:

  1. Diagnose issues
  2. Define intervention and strategy
  3. Implement strategy
  4. Share results

PARC integrates data from a variety of sources to maintain a holistic understanding of living conditions and community wellbeing. Some of the data sources include resident, student and employee input, crime statistics, real estate transactions, asset maps, and community engagement indicators. Visualizations from geocoded data help determine the highest-impact places to implement interventions.

Interventions and peacemaking activities generally fit into the following categories:

Resident and Employee Engagement | Commercial Corridor Activation | Housing | Crime Reduction | Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention | Student-Led Efforts


Resident and Employee Engagement

PARC recognizes that building and sustaining community is at the core of peacemaking and nonviolence. The hallmarks of strong communities are social connectedness and collective efficacy. PARC cultivate these attributes by addressing issues important to residents, students, and employees in the Near West Side. Each year, Marquette's Democracy Lab conducts surveys to identify community needs, concerns, and perceptions.

The monthly Neighborhood of Neighborhoods (NeON) meeting updates residents on crime, community events, and other efforts in the Near West Side. Neighborhood events such as movie nights, cleanups, and holiday celebrations occur throughout the year to build community cohesiveness. Democracy Lab also evaluates the impact of community outreach efforts to ensure traditionally underrepresented voices are included.

For employees, engagement events such as happy hours, sporting events, and cooking classes provide opportunities to network and explore social venues and public spaces in the Near West Side. Additionally, an employee discount program provides incentives to enjoy area restaurants and businesses.


Commercial Corridor Activation

PARC identifies economic development opportunities from an annual commercial corridor audit, resident and employee surveys, and property and commercial real estate data. Priorities include revitalizing vacant storefronts, providing fresh food options, and attracting new businesses.

Since 2015, more than 30 new businesses have opened in the Near West Side with several resulting from Rev-Up MKE, an annual Shark-Tank style competition. Many of the new businesses create employment opportunities and hire Near West Side residents.

PARC also works with existing businesses, notably in the creation of "Good Business Standards." This provides clear practices and standards for responsible business operators, which improves the quality of life in the Near West Side.


Housing

PARC recognizes that quality housing is both a human right and plays a significant factor in individual and community well being and safety. PARC works to support the varied needs of tenants, homeowners, and rental property owners/managers. The resident survey, residential real estate data, and landlord compact meetings help to understand and inform how to support the unique needs of each.

Since 2015, more than 50 properties have been recognized by the Good Neighbor Designation program. As a result, tenants can easily identify properties that go above and beyond minimal state and local requirements to provide quality, safe housing. The Live, Work, Play program provides employees of Near West Side businesses assistance with buying a home or renting in the neighborhood. PARC also connects property owners with resources and information on loans and financial assistance, home repair programs, and energy and weatherization programs. 

Marquette and Near West Side Partners received a HUD Choice Neighborhood Initiative (CNI) Planning Grant to create a strategy to transform the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee’s College Court development and the surrounding neighborhood. The goal is to replace distressed public and assisted housing with high-quality, mixed-income housing that is responsive to resident and neighborhood health, safety, employment, and education needs.


Crime Reduction

PARC strives for the Near West Side to be a community in which people can be successful and healthy throughout their lives; places where families and businesses thrive, children play without fear, and people are proud of their neighborhood. By focusing both on crime reduction and increasing community capacity to improve safety PARC strives to achieve a positive peace.

PARC uses a data-driven approach (based on the Cardiff Model for Violence Prevention) to identify problem places based on incidences and types of crime. Targeted interventions focus on addressing immediate issues as well as root causes, to create long-term, systemic solutions that improve the quality of life in the Near West Side.

The Community Prosecution Unit (CPU) is led by an Assistant District Attorney and collaborates with law enforcement, government agencies, and social service organizations to develop and implement interventions. Priority issues include reducing crime, preventing domestic violence, and addressing environmental factors that lead to crime.

Near West Side Ambassadors also contribute to safety initiatives by engaging with residents, landlords, and businesses. They provide insights on how to address ongoing nuisances to neighborhood vitality and report blight (graffiti, trash, potholes, and building code violations).

One accomplishment was a collaborative effort between residents, businesses, law enforcement, and legislators to close the 27th street tobacco shop that was a frequent site of violence and police calls for service.


Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention

Much of the violence in the United States occurs between individuals who know one another. Domestic and sexual violence is one of largest and most under reported types of violence. PARC organizes programs and campaigns that raise awareness of and aim to prevent domestic violence and sexual assault. Throughout the year distribute PARC distributes resources tin the community. We align efforts with Advocate Aurora Healing Center and the wider community. PARC also coordinates with law enforcement and employers to prevent domestic violence, sexual assault, and identify the signs of individuals in abusive situations and connect individuals to resources and support.  

PARC raises teal ribbon cutouts throughout the neighborhood in April for sexual assault awareness month and in October for domestic violence awareness month. Additional programs are tailored to community members and college students during these months. Activities include National Denim Day, a film screening and talk back, and Coaching Boys into Men program that trains youth sport coaches to educate young men about sexual violence and consent.


Student-Led Efforts

The Center for Peacemaking is committed to forming the next generation of peacemakers. PARC serves as a laboratory for students to discover pathways to integrate personal commitment to peace and nonviolence with their professional development while simultaneously learning pragmatic ways to address community challenges.

Marquette undergraduate and graduate students are involved in virtually all aspects of PARC as interns, research assistants, and programming assistants. Furthermore, students formed CAMPus Impact, a student organization that creates opportunities for students to become more familiar with the Near West Side. Their activities range from volunteering (neighborhood clean-ups, home builds, etc.) to socializing (visiting social and entertainment venues).

CAMPus Impact was recognized as the New Organization of the Year by the Marquette University Division of Student Affairs in April 2018. They were also announced as the inaugural winner of the International Town and Gown Association (ITGA) Intern Challenge in January 2020.