In December 2014, the Near Westside Peacemaking Project (NWSPP) graduated its first group of peacemakers. Peacemaking is a traditional Native American approach to conflict that focuses on healing and restoring relationships, rather than finding fault or deciding guilt/innocence.
Jose Delgado is one of twenty newly graduated peacemakers. He has been a resident of the Near Westside for four years. He moved here from Puerto Rico with his wife and two of theirfive daughters. In his first few years here, Jose struggled with health issues, legal troubles, and financial difficulties.
Nowadays though, things are going okay for him and his family. His two youngest daughters are doing well at Fowler High School and more of his family has come to join them in the US. He feels blessed to be in good health and have such a tightknit family.
Jose became a peacemaker because he wants “to try to help people resolve their problems using words, not fighting or firing shots.” He said the peacemaker training “was good. I learned a lot and met new people, like a [city court] judge and some guys from the parole office.” Jose is almost always accompanied by his daughter, Jayna. When she’s not in school or practicing dance at La Casita, she is by his side. She decided to participate in the peacemaker training with her father because she wants “to make a change” in her community and show people that “you don’t have to use violence to solve a problem.”
Jayna enjoyed the training because it was a “friendly environment. It was fun. We met new people.” One thing that stayed with her was something she learned from Native American expert consultant Wendy Hill, who presented a tip-of-the-iceberg analogy about how little we know a person byjust looking at them. Jayna’s takeaway from the lesson was that we “only see the superficial, we don’t know about the problems someone might be facing or what they have been through.” She hopes that through the program, she’ll get to “know people for who they really are, that is, if they open up and let us know them.”
Jose and Jayna are ready to startworking on cases and helping people from their community who are in conflict. Jose hopes “that the program continues and expands” beyond the Westside.His daughter,Jayna, hopes that through the program “fewer people are sent to jail,” and that they start to see “people making changes in their lives.”
The first floor of 601 Tully Street is the future home of the NWSPP! The peacemaking program will accept case referrals from community members, the Syracuse Housing Authority, the courts, schools, probation and parole. For more information, please contact Lisa at (917) 573-1845 or VavonesL@courtinnovation.org.