When I took over the Minneapolis 1st Platoon as Platoon Leader last summer, our future was uncertain, but my vision was not.
Shortly before I took over as the Minneapolis Platoon Leader there was a police involved shooting of a man named Philando Castile, a St. Paul resident. His death became national news when his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, live streamed the aftermath on Facebook, and it was watched by thousands of people within 24 hours. His murder sparked protests throughout the Twin Cities, and finally forced many in my home to confront the very real fact that while we are progressive in many ways, Minnesota is segregated and a very difficult place for many minorities to live.
I choose to focus my anger, confusion and frustration with a system that was once again failing so many of its citizens, on positive engagement for the future. I wanted to focus on the long term, how to be a part of the healing of the community in any way I could. I had the privilege to be able to choose how I approached the aftermath of the death of Philando, and I never forgot that. Continue reading “In this Turbulent Time, This Is as Grassroots as I Can Get”
With our second Mass Deployment just a week away, we wanted to check in with some of our troops based in Atlanta. Just like last year’s Operation Motown Muster, this year’s Operation Westside Surge is built from the bottom up, based on the needs from within the community and local nonprofits. The work that 75+ veterans will be accomplishing is going to give the work already being done a big boost, and help set the service platoon on the path to even greater impact in the Westside.
Perhaps the people most apt to describe what a program like Operation Westside Surge represents someone like Kimia Flournoy. She is a Westside resident, Atlanta 1st Service Platoon member, and current Mission Continues Fellow. As an Atlanta resident, Kimia feels a strong connection to Operation Westside Surge.
“When I first moved to Atlanta, I was in the Westside. I stayed in that area for a couple years, and now I know the in’s and out’s, I know the kids, I know what can be done. Mission Continues is saying, ‘we’re coming to help you do what you’re already doing, but we’re going to give you a boost up, and help you have more pride in your community.’ Once Westside Surge leaves, we will continue to make our community better — I hope we can keep the momentum up.”Continue reading “Operation Westside Surge: Listening to the Voices in Atlanta”