Thousands of District residents participated in the One City Summit that took place on Sat., Feb. 11 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Northwest and most indications are that it was a success.
"I think this is just great," Miles Steele, a resident of Ward 7's Hillcrest neighborhood said. "This is just what this city needs."
But Henry French, a resident of Tenelytown in Ward 3, was not as upbeat about the event. He came to the summit because "there are a lot of things going on in the city."
"I spend a lot of time in community meetings," French said. "What I came to hear were solutions to the city's problems."
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray convened the summit, using the model of the Citizen Summits held during the administration of D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams in the last decade. Gray, 69, said that the summit is in line with his slogan of Washington as "One City."
"If we are to ever be one city, we must not idly sit by and be content to let the next chapter in the District's history simply write itself," Gray, 69, said. "We must forge our future together to develop a diverse economy accessible to all, to grow the pie for everyone, to ensure everyone does their fair share, and to ensure everyone has a chance to succeed. At today's summit, we began an important civic dialogue about how we can go about making the dream of One City a reality."
Carolyn Lukensmeyer, founder and president of America Speaks, said that Gray's concept is close to the previous summits. She said the first Citizens Summit was in 1999 with next one taking place in 2000. It focused on youth issues while the summit in 2001 dealt with the city's budget.
The mayoral administration of Adrian Fenty, from 2007-2011, did not hold citizens summits because he did not feel they were necessary. Lukensmeyer, a resident of Northwest, said that people noticed when they stopped under Fenty.
"I was often asked on the street about the citizens summits," she said. "The people wanted them to continue and I am glad that Mayor Gray has done that."
Participants were placed about seven or eight to a table with approximately 120 tables. A facilitator with a laptop computer and a digital recorder sat at the tables. Facilitators led participants on such issues as diversifying and growing the economy, early success in childhood education, educating youth for the economy of tomorrow and job skills for residents in a growing economy. You can read more about the Citizens Summit at washingtoninformer.com.