Second Annual Imagination, Inquiry, and Innovation Institute Takes on Inequality


Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore shared the ways in which her office is using new ways to lower crime rates at the second annual Imagination, Inquiry, and Innovation Institute, held at The College of New Rochelle on March 29.

In a field that is often known for being rigid, DiFiore said her office is seeking "creative approaches to crime and justice." Efforts include a high-tech center that analyzes crime trends and patterns, particularly useful with multi-jurisdiction crimes.

Preventing crimes before they happen is also fertile ground for creativity and innovation, DiFiore said. When she worked in the Family Court system, she was a pioneer in focusing on helping former convicts reintegrate into society, seeking to turn them into sober, productive, law-abiding citizens. While an accepted idea now, this was once out-of-the-box thinking.

The theme of this year's conference was "Facing Inequality." Sessions included presentations on arts education for homeless people, and street children in India. Presenters also talked about inequality in the classroom, whether in instruction, or because of disabilities; the use of poetry, art, and dance can address conflicts; and using games as learning tools.

The daylong conference also featured a moving performance of "Four Little Girls: Birmingham 1963." Written by Christina M. Ham, the staged reading commemorates the 50th anniversary of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Alabama. Readings have been staged at numerous venues around the country.

The play portrays four girls who share their hopes and dreams against the background of the civil rights movement, dreams that come crashing down when they are killed by a bomb while preparing for their church's youth day service.

Urban Word NYC, which presents literary arts education and youth programs in the areas of creative writing, spoken word, college prep, literature and hip-hop, helped kick off the conference with a rousing performance.

Legendary educator Maxine Greene presented on "Wide-Awakeness and Equality," and was honored at the reception at the end of the conference.