Consider the words of Wesly Taveras, a student at Camden’s Creative Arts High:
“I’ve learned here that I don’t have to wait to be old to make a difference.”
Wesly shared this sentiment during Creative Camden Call to Collaboration’s closing session. Earlier, he moderated a breakout based on a question he posed — “How can we reunite our community?”
Wesly’s thoughtful comments made a lot of people smile. Maybe because it made them feel old, but also because they could understand how he was feeling. They don’t want to wait either, and this is why many decided to come together to build a shared vision of the future for the city.
The event, held at Rutgers University-Camden on March 16, was the first day of a two-day gathering in Camden, part of Creative New Jersey’s statewide series of community-based convenings, aimed at helping to fuel new ideas and current efforts already in action; and to foster creativity, collaboration, and inclusion by facilitating cross-sector partnerships in commerce, education, philanthropy, government, and culture.
In this Call to Collaboration, participants had the opportunity to engage in 34 breakout sessions that sparked new collaborations and strengthened partnerships. Attendees brainstormed topics that fell under the central guiding question:
“As our city evolves, how can all of us who live and work in Camden collaborate to creatively leverage our assets, ensure accountability from all, fuel economic opportunities for residents, and strengthen our neighborhoods in order to create a safer, prosperous Camden for all?”
Some of the topics discussed included job creation and training, helping youth attend and graduate college, collaboratively increasing the availability and accessibility of services for those in need, and engaging community members to be actively involved in the transformation of Camden, just to name a few.
“I love the idea of having this platform [Call to Collaboration] as a place where we can take our individual aspects, aspirations, and all our goals and put those into play and actually do something about it,” said Zulma Gonzalez-Lombardo, executive director at the Rachel & Drew Katz Foundation.
The first day of Creative Camden Call to Collaboration brought together over 140 residents, business owners, nonprofit leaders, and others intersted in shaping Camden’s future. Creative Camden community members will have the opportunity to keep the conversation going during the second day of this Call to Collaboration, which is focused on action planning, on Monday, May 8,
Creative Camden community members — and those interested in joining the conversation — will have the opportunity to keep the conversation going during the second day of this Call to Collaboration, which is focused on action planning, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, May 8 at the Camden Salvation Army Kroc Center. New community members are welcome, whether or not they participated in the March gathering.
Readers, if you or someone you know should be a part of the Creative Camden Call to Collaboration, please share this blog and registration info. We have a few spaces still available.
You can learn more about what participants experienced and discussed during the first day of the Creative Camden Call to Collaboration, as covered by SNJ Today, NJTV and the Courier-Post by clicking here, and also through the Creative Camden Facebook group.
Creative New Jersey would like to thank the Creative Camden host venues, the Camden Salvation Army Kroc Center and Rutgers University-Camden, our media partner, NJTV, and special thanks to the Sixers Youth Foundation for its help and support of the event.
If you want to become involved with the Creative Camden members, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be sure to connect you.
Diana Mendez is Creative New Jersey’s Community Organizer & Communications Specialist. She has over 10 years experience empowering communities to solve specific social issues from the non-profit, public, and private sector.
Creative New Jersey is dedicated to fostering creativity, innovation, and sustainability by empowering cross-sector partnerships in commerce, education, philanthropy, government, and culture in order to ensure dynamic communities and a thriving economy. Creative New Jersey’s leaders and partners are regular contributors to the Dodge blog.