By Hafeezat Bishi
LNPWI has a goal to reach as much of the North Philadelphia population as possible. Table Talks are informal conversations LNPWI has been organizing to gain real time insight into the communities. Bringing people from the area to discuss needs they would like addressed allows us to be authentic with our work. Table Talks are an opportunity for LNPWI to converse and connect with residents, employers, leaders within the community, and more to address issues and goals surrounding the workforce development of the North Philadelphian community.
Table Talks are designed to be as accessible as possible. Claire Pope, a program specialist for LNPWI states that “we make sure to consider physical accessibility of the spaces that we host Table Talks.” Her colleague Shayleen Kennedy, also a program specialist for LNPWI, goes on to say that this includes “ensur[ing] that [table talks] are located near public transit, and take place after traditional work hours” hopefully resulting in more attendees. Disability accessibility as well as dietary restrictions are also addressed. It is, overall, a safe space for community members and participants.
Topics addressed in past Table Talks include: living wage, community presence in change efforts, improved community outreach, and more. Upcoming Table Talks will be geared towards the English Language Learning (or ELL) community. LNPWI is partnering with the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians and other organizations that have a history of serving these residents. North Philadelphia has an array of languages that are spoken—from Spanish and Arabic to French and Vietnamese, so it is vital to be inclusive to all people as possible.
As Kennedy also stated, “In the words of Nina Simone, ‘If you are not at the table you are probably on the menu.’” These Table Talks are designed to provide that seat. LNPWI’s goal is to aid the communities served and to do that their perspectives on topics need to be known. Not only that, but it is the hope that Table Talks empower residents and ensure them that their voices are heard. “People with lived experience are better experts on the issues of unemployment, poverty, discrimination and other systemic injustices, than any professional or academic could ever be,” Pope says.
If you live within the area LNPWI serves and want to participate in an upcoming ELL Table Talk, please email email@example.com.