This week, we were glad to welcome our old friend, Michael Nairn from the University of Pennsylvania’s Urban Studies Program to join us for a session on the racial, economic, and educational issues that affect life here in the City of Philadelphia. These are serious topics but Michael keeps it light while keeping you on your toes. This session was extra special because Michael brought a whole class of Penn undergrads with him. Here’s a picture of the 60 of us getting down to serious business:
Michael put us into small groups and had us discuss everything from James Baldwin quotes to school closings.
Then we had to color maps red, yellow, and green based on where we felt safe in the City.
As you can see, there was a lot of red on our maps. Unfortunately, many of us don’t feel as safe as we need to. Mostly, though, there was a lot of white space on our maps. Vast areas of the City that we don’t know at all. Sometimes our ignorance of an area and the people in it is what makes us the most afraid. After that, we all had to come up to the big map and put a post-it note on our neighborhood. Guess what? A lot of us live in the red and white areas. It turns out we know more people in more parts of the City than we think. That’s a good thing.
Today, we feel like we laid the first moorings of a bridge that might one day help connect the divides in this City. At the very least, we learned a lot. Much thanks to Michael and his students for spending the afternoon with us.