The traumatic events of the past three months have left us shaken and heartbroken at Loyola Marymount University’s Center for Urban Resilience.
The COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with the subsequent economic collapse and the killings of African Americans at the hands of police, forces us to acknowledge the institutional injustices that undermine the foundation of American society. In this country we are blessed to live in an extraordinary experiment in democracy whose future is only secure if its foundation is stable and built upon the stones of durable ideas. No amount of economic success can cover up the inequalities that fester in the halls of America, nor make up for noble platitudes of justice and equality that are never acted upon. We’ve had 400 years of this negligence.
The Jesuit mission of our university does not permit us to look away or turn our backs, to close our doors and work only in the narrow domain of academic scholarship. Instead, we must use the power of knowledge and the resources of our 100-year-old university to reach out to our neighbors while simultaneously empowering all members of our community to be ambassadors of a more positive future – one where prejudice transforms into tolerance, empathy, and a love for all; a future where we will ultimately transcend tolerance and reach the goal of real kinship.
At the Center for Urban Resilience we are committed to using our expertise in restorative justice, social resilience, and ecosystem services to develop inclusive and sustainable communities where all are welcome. We regreen schoolyards and underserved neighborhoods, empower social communities to nurture interpersonal relationships to resolve their conflicts through restorative conferences, and help build healing bonds between people and domestic animals. Through education, research, and collaboration, we believe these efforts can help restore our communities while simultaneously strengthening – and reconnecting with – the very foundations of our democracy.
We hope you will join CURes by partnering with us on projects, and by adding your passion and energy to the changes we are trying to make in the world. Whether you are fellow faculty, students, staff or members of the larger universal family, we have opportunities for you to participate in transformative programs mentioned above. Get involved with the Southern California Restorative Practices Consortium. Join us in collaboration with members of underserved communities to develop, design and implement tree planting and garden projects. Participate in our domestic animal research projects that seek to improve the lives of people and animals.
There has never been a more important time to combine our Jesuit ideals with social and ecological resilience. By doing so, we will strengthen our world’s ability to weather our current storms – and those that are sure to come – while ensuring that we emerge from these dark days even stronger and more committed to a world where all are truly equal.