Summit Aims to Engage, Unify District
Published: Monday, February 13, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, February 14, 2012 02:02
University President John J. DeGioia joined about 1,800 D.C. residents to propose new ways to improve the city at Mayor Vincent Gray's first One City Summit on Saturday.
The event was designed to seek input directly from citizens rather than government officials or policymakers.
"[This is] grassroots democracy, D.C. style," Gray said in his opening remarks. "This project will be a roadmap of D.C. to truly reflect one city."
The summit was orchestrated by AmericaSpeaks, a nonprofit whose mission is to organize large-scale town halls that engage citizens in making public policy decisions.
Drawing on the idea that local residents know their neighborhoods' problems best, the summit divided participants into groups of seven or eight people and asked them to come up with a list of concerns they wanted the D.C. government to address. The groups then voted on their preferred priorities and policies.
Participants ranked improving education and creating jobs as top concerns.
Carolyn Lukensmeyer, AmericaSpeaks' president and a facilitator of the summit, said D.C. universities have an important role to play in improving the District's economy through providing educational opportunities and creating jobs. She lauded DeGioia for the commitment he showed to this goal by attending the summit.
The university has participated in previous initiatives designed to help the D.C. economy, such as Gray's "One City, One Hire" program, through which local institutions make a commitment to hire D.C. residents who have been in long-term unemployment. Georgetown, the largest private employer in the District, has hired at least one new employee through this program since signing on in the fall.
"The One City Summit gave us the opportunity to continue our dialogue with Mayor Gray and leaders throughout the city about Georgetown's commitment to strengthening our role as a contributor and partner within the District of Columbia," DeGioia wrote in a statement.