Dinner and Dialogue, Jared Solomon
Philly Set Go launched "Dinner and Dialogue” with the purpose of bringing millennials together with elected officials and community leaders in various neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia. These dinners have been a wonderful exchange of relationships and ideas for a better Philadelphia for all Philadelphians.
Our second “Dinner and Dialogue” was held recently with PA State Representative Jared Solomon, who represents the 202nd Legislative District. A handful of his volunteers and constituents, and residents of varying ages, joined us for dinner at the Country Club Diner (author’s note: the milkshakes were delicious).
Numerous themes emerged from the conversation.
1. Philadelphia is large. Legislators should be more connected with the various communities they claim to represent.
Philadelphia is 141.7 square miles, and it is about 12 miles from City Hall to the Country Club Diner. The size of the city creates a challenge of how to deliver city services to all residents, from the Southwest to the Northeast. For Rep. Solomon’s constituents, one challenge they identified is that, while they were all in Rep. Solomon’s legislative district, they were divided among four Philadelphia City Council members. As a consequence, there may be a lack of clarity about which Councilmember may be able to address a particular problem. Rep. Solomon’s guests also conveyed a concern about the lack of city resources invested in their area, from the police presence to parking concerns, from investment in business districts to litter/trash removal.
2. Constituents are focused on quality-of-life issues and building their community.
Before Rep. Solomon ran for and won his seat, he started the program “Take Back Your Neighborhood”, an initiative to empower residents to revitalize their communities. This focus continues. His constituents continue to organize neighborhood clean-ups, support neighborhood watch activities, stress the importance of saying “hi” and getting to know their neighbors, and organize a street festival called “Northeast Day.” Further, residents at the table recalled a time when many community members had left the Northeast neighborhoods - there were fewer families, less jobs available, and the real estate values dropped. But now there seems to be a resurgence of young, diverse people moving back to the neighborhoods. Neighbors recognize the need to care for and nurture their communities, and Rep. Solomon is a dedicated partner in bringing to life ideas to benefit the residents of his district.
3. Diversity as a key to economic success.
The Northeast has changed over the last twenty years or so, but Rep. Solomon and his constituents viewed the relatively new diversity as an opportunity. In particular, they indicated that there are many small businesses as a result of the arrival of new residents and immigrants to the area. They believe that there is potential to start and grow new businesses, but there needs to be a coordinated effort between elected officials and residents to help businesses find the resources they need to plant their roots and thrive.
Our first “Dinner and Dialogue” was held with PA State Representative Jordan Harris. Missed that recap? You can find it here.
Are you in a neighborhood that could use some Dinner & Dialogue? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.