At the inaugural Port Richmond Partnership Community Engagement Summit on April 19, leaders and change-makers from all parts of Staten Island came together to exchange ideas, meet each other, make connections, and build productive partnerships to address local needs.
From the Borough President’s Office to local artists, counseling services, business incubators, Wagner College students and faculty, homeless services, immigrant advocates, and parks organizations, the participants covered the spectrum of people making a difference in the community.
Presentations and panel discussions took place throughout the day on the campus of Wagner College.
The Port Richmond Partnership is a collaboration between Wagner College and dozens of local organizations — including schools, churches, non-profits and medical centers — in the Staten Island neighborhood of Port Richmond. The partnership is focused on improving life in the community in the areas of arts, education, health, economic development, and immigration.
At the opening panel discussion, a range of local leaders discussed such questions as, “What is the power and impact of a partnership?” “How are healthy partnerships formed and sustained?” and “What’s your vision of a healthy and positive community?”
Several of the speakers shared wisdom and memorable stories. On the topic of the power of partnerships, D.B. Lampman, co-founder and associate director of Staten Island MakerSpace, told how her new non-profit on the Stapleton waterfront has acquired access to a long-abandoned lot across the street.
To fulfill their vision of beautifying this lot that has been filled with trash and crime, MakerSpace has a partnership with another local organization working with youth who did not finish high school and are unemployed. MakerSpace provides training in industrial fabrication, digital fabrication, and other vocational skills. In turn, the trainees are creating benches, planters, and other pieces to transform the lot into a sculpture park open to the community.
Deputy Borough President Ed Burke; Dr. Ginny Mantello, health director for the Borough President’s Office; Gonzalo Mercado, executive director of the Staten Island Community Job Center; and Wagner education professors Rhoda Frumkin and Katia Gonzalez all had similar stories of success and challenge about their community work.
“This is the future right here, where we work across our differences and grow together,” concluded moderator Richard Guarasci, president of Wagner College. “This will change the politics someday.”
Watch a video of the complete opening session of the Port Richmond Partnership Community Engagement Summit: