At the 2011 Equal Partners In Change Summit on Friday, Mayor Michael Nutter spoke about the responsibility a community must take to build economic and social opportunities for the future.
Looking forward, he said, his priorities are for the city to be safer, smarter, more sustainable and for transparency in government. They were values that Epic, a group that works to reduce barriers to positive growth, focuses on as well. Community-based organizations do what the government can’t always do, Nutter said, such as build the state of the art Salvation Army Kroc Community Center, where the event took place.
This was the first time Epic hosted an economic summit. The event joined government officials, community organizations and other groups to offer solutions on how to help communities focus on economic development opportunities, said Michael Rice, the community engagement specialist for Epic.
To draw the meeting into focus on the future, Nutter spoke about learning from his past.
He grew up thinking his parents were strict for not allowing him to go to parties or hang out with certain people. But he can look back and appreciate what his parents’ rules did for him.
“Well, I’m here today because they said no,” he said. “Then I learned the value of yes, and I appreciated it.”
Nutter encouraged parents to take this kind of involvement in their children’s lives. He said that going through their computer and cell phone is necessary, something he picked up from his mother. When he had a job as a child, he bought a jacket. His mother asked him where it came from and let him know that the house and his room belonged to her, so she had every right to know what was coming into it.
He also spoke of the value of summer programs and internships to keep children busy and engaged.
The summit featured 10 different initiatives.
Breakout groups discussed poverty and social environment, healthy homes, positive youth development, and arts and music. Also Epic coordinators gave presentations about child safety and specific challenges that they want to help Philadelphia face down.
“This is not a moment,” Rice said. “It’s a movement.”
He asked the audience to talk to others about what happened at the summit after they left for home and work, to show the importance of standing up and participating.
Jordan A. Harris, executive director for the City of Philadelphia Youth Commission, was asked to speak as part of the Plenary Session, where community strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats were assessed.
He thinks the summit is important because it’s impossible for just one group to have an impact on children. It needs to be a collective effort, he said.
Being an involved community member, Edi Chapman, president elect of the Madrugadores Rotary Club, was interested in the summit. She didn’t know it was going on, and it was only because of a medical appointment at the center that day that she was there.
Chapman, a Germantown resident, dislikes when people say it’s too late for some young people because the system didn’t help them reach their full potential. Instead, she thinks they should have the opportunity to engage in different activities.
She was particularly drawn to a morning session she attended about arts and music, where she learned about programs that are working on re-instituting music programs for children outside of school. Programs like this are important, she said, because they introduce young people to things they may have seen before but never had the opportunity to learn.
“Watching Martha Stewart is lovely,” she said, by way of example. “But Martha isn’t going to your neighborhood. There should be a place where you can do all this stuff.”