The Confounding Life of the Woman Seeking to Heal San Francisco's Wounds


credit: Flickr

"I was determined to go out into the world to find the'medicine' to heal my community," says Lena Miller, a white woman who grew up in San Francisco's historically African-American Hunters Point neighborhood.

A school board member at the time, Miller would go on to found a number of charities based on her ideas about the role of trauma in African-American communities, the San Francisco Standard reports.

Her efforts are premised on the psychology of violent criminals, and have generated controversy amid accusations of harassment and assault by her workers, which she and her staff say is part of a bogus narrative meant to falsely villainize them.

Miller is executive director of Urban Alchemy, a fast-growing nonprofit organization at the nexus of public safety and homelessness.

Its slogan: "transforming the energy in traumatized urban spaces."

It employs former long-term offenders Miller has described as people convicted of'murder and attempted murder.' She says this makes Urban Alchemy's ex-convict workers better at interacting with people suffering the types of emotional wounds accompanying poverty, violence, or addiction.

More recently, Urban Alchemy was selected for a $2.5 million contract to replace police in responding to 911 calls relating to homelessness, the Department of Emergency Management told the Standard in a Jan...

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