By Bianca Valencia, The George Washington University
From the start of the planning committee, GW’s Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service (CCEPS) was excited to have the opportunity to partner with a strong, substantive, community-based organization like ONE DC. The collaboration between Gregory Squires (GW) and Dominic Moulden (ONE DC) in writing the social policy article entitled “Equitable Development Comes to DC” truly initiated a great start. The symposium that occurred on Thursday, March 27, 2014 brought about 120 participants.
It was wonderful to have local residents and GW academic faculty and students all come together for this event. Each of them had the opportunity to learn from one another and grow in their networks. In regards to students, it is essential that they not only learn from books, but also from people within their field of study. In this way, they learn to value the knowledge that comes from the community members’ life experiences. This creates a greater sense of pride and connection between their major and the surrounding environment.
The planning committee consisted of the executive director from CCEPS (Amy Cohen), resource organizer from ONE DC (Dominic Moulden), GW sociology, public policy, and public administration professor (Dr. Gregory Squires), adjunct professor at American University (Kalfani Ture), and two GW student event coordinators (Leah Galasso and Bianca Valencia). They each played a critical role in determining the needs of the symposium and executing those plans. Specifically, it was absolutely great to work with Kalfani because of his involved nature with equitable development. In fact, he was an intern for ONE DC, and is currently a doctoral candidate of anthropology and an approaching faculty member.
As for the student coordinators, Leah and Bianca were both able to grow and develop new skills since working on the symposium. They both quickly realized that committee meetings were starkly different from a classroom environment. They also never worked in a participatory democracy before. However, after the readjustment period, both students were able to create their own mark and coordinate with each other in order to complete various tasks. By the end, they both became more confident in not only approaches of creating a large-scale event, but also in group collaboration.
Overall, the Equitable Development Symposium was a tremendous success. The hope is to make this event annual as to increase awareness and draw more networks to create solutions to the current problem. The Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service, as well as the GW community are more than excited to continue their partnership with ONE DC.
Save the Date: 2nd Annual Equitable Development Conference - March 26, 2015. Details TBA