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Member Perspective: Pedro Ramos

Posted Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

Member News, Roadmap for Growth, Roadmap

Guest Commentator: Pedro Ramos, President & CEO, The Philadelphia Foundation and Co-Chair, The Chamber’s Roadmap for Growth Action Team

How important are conversations across sectors to foster community engagement?

On May 23, as part of an initiative called On the Table Philly, hundreds of small groups across the Greater Philadelphia region sat down to share a meal and talk about how we can work together to strengthen our communities. Topics ranged from neighborhood development to education, race relations to creating intergenerational community, food insecurity to the arts.

That evening I reflected on the power of the conversations I had attended and saw my own experience echoed in the photos and comments shared by hosts and guests on social media throughout the day. One host at a neighborhood library thanked her guests for developing a health awareness program for the library for this coming fall. Another group had mapped their existing connections, and then mapped out all the new ways they wanted to work together based on their discussion.

The Philadelphia Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation piloted On the Table Philly because we believe informed and engaged communities — communities with the ability to listen to each other and learn together — are essential to a healthy democracy. Not surprisingly, the Chamber was involved in On the Table as both a member of the steering committee and a table host.

Talking with people who see a different side of an issue, or see it through a different lens, helps all of us see things we may not have seen before. Stepping outside of our own comfortable echo chambers gives us the opportunity to generate solutions to community needs in richer, more unpredictable, more creative ways. And when we make the effort to convene cross-sector conversations, we amplify those impacts. We tap into a greater range of knowledge, bring more tools to the table and can tackle more ambitious projects.

One of the key goals of the Roadmap for Growth at the Chamber is to engage businesses, nonprofit organizations, and leaders together in realizing Greater Philadelphia’s potential as a dynamic, inclusive, empowering economy. The Roadmap for Growth Action Team at the Chamber has emphasized this message in programs it hosted this year in Kensington and South Philadelphia, looking at how much neighborhoods beyond Center City and cohorts of new immigrant entrepreneurs have to contribute.

Creating broad, diverse engagement around the aspirations of our communities requires sustained attention and leadership, but the effort is well worth it.

On May 23, the Chamber’s Roadmap for Growth Action Team hosted a conversation at one of hundreds of locations across the region holding similar events where community members from all ages and backgrounds came together to put real issues and solutions “on the table” and shared their commitments to helping shape our collective future.

The Philadelphia Foundation is a member of the Chamber’s Roadmap for Growth Action Team, a group of business, civic and community leaders committed to the development and execution of a pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda to lift and improve Philadelphia’s economic and civic life.

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