• Tue. Apr 20th, 2021

Pastor Ennis Tait meets for lunch with members of the community to present his Positive Force plan for community involvement. From left are Kay Smith Yount, Rev. Damon Lynch Jr., Bernadette Watson, Rev. Aaron Greenlea, Bishop Ennis Tait, Libbie Crawford, Dr. Vanessa Y. White, Dr. Pat White and Ozie Davis. Mitch Morris is not shown. Photo by Dan Yount

By Dan Yount

The Cincinnati Herald

Recently, The Positive Force (through its program Project Lifeline) hosted “Off the Cuff” Community Conversations in Avondale for residents of Carplin and Alameda Streets to openly discuss solutions to the crime on their blocks and how they will work together to take back their streets and stand against the gun violence that is plaguing their community.

“We are simply providing the members of this neighborhood a platform to discuss their concerns about their community.” said Bishop Ennis F. Tait, leader of Ennis Tait Ministries.

The Rev. Ennis Tait. Photo provided

“We are excited about community members, who are ready to lead the effort. It is a reflection of strong community-police relations,” Tait said. “We need community members to partner with us to take back our streets. Family members of victims of gun violence were present to lift their voices and champion this cause. This is the beginning of a new day and we are expecting to create a new energy in our city for this work.”

In reality, 2020 was one of the most important years in American history, Tait said. “The pandemic, while tragic, opened the way for deeper efforts to be made to transform our cities and communities.  We have been working to design a plan that will transform our city and set-in motion a collection of initiatives that will pull willing minds together to champion a new community-based movement. True transformation will require collaboration and cooperation.  Components of this movement are already being implemented.”

What Tait is referring to is the Positive Force (PF) movement, which is a grassroots comprehensive strategy he and others have been working on for some time.

According to the introduction to the plan, the strategy “is a divinely appointed, multi-sector community engagement and mobilization strategy organized to bring together civic and community leaders to help recalibrate a shared vision between the county, city, community, and churches, while redesigning a platform to merge new and existing voices of the community to present a stronger, more unified long-term revitalization plan.”

The movement incorporates more effective ways of supporting existing place-based, evidence-based initiatives, school-based programs, healthcare collaborative and community-based projects and initiatives through the power of collaboration. It presents participating communities with an option to choose from a myriad of practical approaches designed to reclaim, recover, restore, rebuild, reconnect, reengage, and revive residents while focusing on the top nine most critical issues facing Cincinnati and Hamilton County, such as:

– Poverty (Self-Sufficiency, Sustainability, Livable Wages)

• Violence (domestic and gun)

• Health disparages (COVID 19, infant mortality, depression, heart disease)

• Access to high-quality education (Preschool and K-6)

• Unemployment/underemployment (Job Readiness and Skill Development)

• Police-Community Relations (Police Reform, Collaborative Agreement and

Refresh)

• Re-entry (Returning Citizens, restorative justice)

• Trauma/Mental Illness (Intervention for Youth and Adults)

• Housing (Affordable and secure housing and Home Ownership)

Community activist Bishop Ennis Tait joins a group of protestors of gun violence on Reading Road in Avondale. Photo by Dan Yount

Tait said the initial work of the Positive Force movement is to link current initiatives being facilitated by small/large nonprofits within select communities, such as Avondale, Over-the-Rhine, East Westwood, Bond Hill, Roselawn, Price Hill and Winton Hills and help those communities leverage existing resources and bridge funding gaps.

The Positive Force movement serves as a working group to produce a source of positive energy around four existing key drivers:

• Instruct

• Support

• Repair

• Uphold

The Positive Force is currently building working groups to organize around what is known as the “12 Ps” (pastors, parents, principals, police/public service, physicians, programs, providers, philanthropist, professionals, politicians/policymakers, probation, and press) which serve as access points to the core our city’s underserved populations, specifically Black and Brown communities.

“The priority of our work is to design a pipeline for information, recommendations, and solutions that flow into a centralized think tank out of which realistic actions will flow into the four key drivers,” said Bishop Tait. The main source of information will come from the various neighborhoods and communities through conversations and dialogue with individuals in the lived experience of the focus areas, he added.

Here’s what is different, he explained: “Working with the people on the ground who are being impacted presents this movement as an inside out versus outside in grassroot strategy and puts the impetus on the community to step up and speak out.” 

Bishop Tait also shared that this was birthed from his 12 years of interacting with families in the communities that long for true, sustainable change.

The Rev. Aaron Greenlee, a community leader, said funds directed at inner city neighborhoods are not being maximized or trickling down to the lower levels. Blacks did not hold on to the unity they once had, as displayed in the West End years ago, he said.

The Rev, Damon Lynch Jr. added, “We went to sleep, and we are not woke up yet,’’ noting that a number of human service agencies today are not managed by Blacks and the Black communities are divided.

Community and education advocate Dr. Vanessa Y White stated, “It is well past time to move all of the conversation into action.  We, Black people, who are the closest to those being negatively impacted by the disparate conditions in our neighborhoods need to be leading the way.  My overarching message has been, let’s go!”

Avondale activist Ozie David added, “We are fighting all kinds of demonic forces working against us.”

That is what Pastor Tait says his Positive Force plan hopes to overcome.

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