Challenges of Scaling-up

 

Jay Rothman

President of the ARIA Group, Inc.

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003


This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

A: Great question, and in addition to them shifting rapidly, who holds them accountable? The police have a command structure, they can be held accountable. And in fact, this was a big sticking point in our negotiations. The police said, fine, we're going to change, but are they? And it was a really fair concern. What we did is we created this addendum, even while we were negotiating this main agreement, and the addendum said the community is going to be responsible for its part. We're going to have a mutual accountability. We're going to have these measurements that the youth and the community are going to be asked, and the police are going to be asked. When you stopped them, how did it go?

The ACLU was a little nervous about that, but they went along with it. The police also get to have their say about how they're treated. But more importantly than those specifics is that we committed to creating a problem-solving center, based in the community. I think it will be rooted now in the ANAACP. It will be connected there. And this institution will be forever. You know, we have 20 million dollars, so it's a lifelong institution. Five million dollars is to implement this agreement and bring in experts and a monitoring team and help with implementation and so forth. The 20 million is to build an institution that is forever. And the community will have training, it will have coaching, and it will have outreach.

So, if you're looking on the ground in Cincinnati right now, I can't say it looks real pretty. You know, the first couple years of this thing are going to be real hard. Folks are going to want to jump back to the old way, or they're going to wish they could be in this new beginning. But in fact, using a model that we talk about, that the Andrus Fund talks about, in particular a transition model, everyone's going to be in a neutral zone for a while, which is neither here nor there, and it's uncomfortable and it's confusing. The desire to move back into kind of a blaming mode is really strong. And here's where I agree so much now in hindsight with the ACLU and the Black United Front. If this doesn't end up in the court at the end, it's going to go away.

Like every other good agreement that ends up sitting on the shelf, this one needs teeth and needs to have legs that walk. For a while I was concerned that everything the community was doing was sort of geared toward this eventual legal process, and that felt to me like it was taking away from the ownership of the community. I don't think it did, and ultimately what it ensured is that these great ideas had some great legs, and the judge is there to make sure things are done. Now, as the agreement progresses, the ideal is very consistent, I think, with the conflict resolution ideas. The authority and it's role decreases as the community and it's role begins to increase. The ownership of this project and the success of it is less about enforcement and more about participation.

Q: Sure, a change of cultural norms.

A: That's right. And we need victories, you know, we need pieces of peace, we need increasing numbers of folks who say, hey this worked. So, we hope the media will stay engaged and be able to continue to tell stories about success. Because there have been plenty of stories already about the barriers and the resistance.