Seat at the Table: A Reflection from Brandy Espinola
Proud and honest. Seat at the Table, PGCSIF’s new potluck style dinner forums, brings together educators, faith leaders, policy makers, community organizers, and entrepreneurs from across Prince George’s County to discuss the benefits and beauty of being a Prince George’s resident, as well as some of the barriers and challenges facing the County today.
On Saturday, August 12th, 2017, I had the privilege of attending the Seat at the Table hosted at the Pyramid Atlantic Art Center in Hyattsville. It was here that I was given a warm welcome by a group of thirteen individuals who all have a passion for seeing Prince George’s County grow and prosper.
Some attendees had been born and raised in Prince George’s, others, like myself, have only been living in the County for a couple of years. However, regardless of how long we had been in the County, we all took great pride in the unique geography, diverse population, and entrepreneurial spirit of Prince George’s. With all of the accomplishments in the County, we discussed the need to do a better job of telling our story. We want to find an avenue to highlight the progress and everyday successes of our community. We also agreed that as Prince George’s County residents, we all need to do a better job of looking inward first- shop, eat, and play Prince George’s.
The group went on to brainstorm strategies that would help elevate and build a stronger Prince George’s County. One central theme during the discussion was developing the County’s local economy around innovation and entrepreneurship. With so many competing priorities it is easy to lose momentum however, if we could develop a single roadmap for promoting prosperity in the County, then we can work collectively to realize that vision.
Working off of this concept of developing a roadmap for Prince George’s County, one of the attendees, Mark Lawrence, Chairman of the Prince George’s County Advisory Board, is writing a plan for transforming Prince George’s into a cutting edge innovation hub. As I understood it, this Innovation Manifesto will be shared widely later this fall with a push to garner grassroots support for focusing County efforts on innovation. Attendees were generally supportive of the idea of a new and improved Innovative Prince George’s and intrigued by the concept of a central manifesto.
As a brief interlude to our discussions, staff at the Pyramid Atlantic Art Center gave us a tour of their facilities and shared information on the various workshops, such as bookbinding and letter pressing, hosted at their center.
We concluded the evening by having a very open and honest discussion about the challenges that the County faces, as well as where we Imagine Prince George’s County in the next 10 years. While we are proud of the progress made in Prince George’s County, we must also be honest about its limitations. In the coming years it is important that we continue to support public education, combat domestic violence, and protect our natural environment. We must also make sure to build a more cohesive and inclusive community that encourages participation at all levels.
As I left the Seat at the Table forum, I was grateful for the opportunity to learn from community leaders who have been working throughout the County for years. The discussions were energizing and the chance to think through developing creative solutions was invaluable. While this was the first time I had participated in this sort of forum, it will certainly not be my last.
If you are interested in participating in the next Seat at the Table opportunity or if you are just interested in learning more, please visit innovateprincegeorges.org/seatatthetable.