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Stories about kids, guns and how to stop the violence. Precious Lives, created by 371 Productions, is a 2-year, 100-part weekly radio series about gun violence and young people in the Milwaukee area. The series applies a public health lens to each story to help listeners understand the full scope of the problem: who are the victims and the shooters; how are the weapons obtained; and what can we change about the environment that contributes to violence in Milwaukee?

#022 Precious Lives: Milwaukee Common Council Invests in Neighbors to Interrupt Violence

Michael Sears, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Martha Freeman, known to many as Momma Freeman

When you think of the word hood what comes to mind? Poverty? Drugs? Violence? For some who live in Milwaukee's Garden Homes neighborhood, it means something else.

The word has been turned it into an acronym, Helping Others Obtain Direction... H.O.O.D., as well as an initiative led by Alderman Ashanti Hamilton.

Alderman Ashanti Hamilton says if you want to make a neighborhood safe, you have to declare it. His new initiative designates several high crime, high poverty areas in Milwaukee as “safe zones.”

Martha Freeman, known to many in the neighborhood as Momma Freeman, cares and isn’t afraid to show it. She has her finger on the pulse, and the ears of her neighbors.

Momma Freeman is not a traditional peacekeeper, like a police officer or social worker, but she is key to making the neighborhood safer.

Credit Michael Sears, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Shawn Moore picked up a gun for the first time when he was 11. Now, he's a H.O.O.D. Ambassador for Garden Homes.

She helped save Shawn Moore.

"I’m almost 50 and I survived," Moore says. "I survived Milwaukee." And now,  Shawn’s doing the same for younger guys.

Alderman Hamilton plans to invest in Momma Freeman and Moore as part of the Safe Zone initiative. They are two of six H.O.O.D. ambassadors assigned to Garden Homes. They will receive deescalation, police academy and community organizing training to find out what the guy on the corner needs.

Alderman Hamilton will hold summits throughout Milwaukee this summer  in areas with the highest concentration of disparities - related to poverty, health, education and other areas. He wants to hear from residents about what they need. Find more information at PreciousLivesProject.org.

Corresponding Content:

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Milwaukee woman brings street level credibility to Safe Zone plan

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