Envisioning an Active Common Agenda in Brownsville

On October 20, 2018, elected leaders Assemblywoman Latrice Walker and City Council Member Alicka Samuel co-hosted a vision workshop with the community of Brownsville. More than 50 people came out to learn about the dynamics of the Brooklyn Democratic Party and to share their vision for its future.

Participants identified several values they hope will guide their political leaders, among them integrity, compassion, discipline, accountability, inclusion and diversity, as well as authenticity, transparency, responsiveness, vision, honesty, loyalty, experience, dedication, and expertise.

In addition to Councilmember Samuels and Assemblywoman Walker, those attending named numerous community leaders they admire, including Hakeem Jeffries, Jesse Hamilton, Laticia James, Eric Adams, Patricia Dean, Alicia Boyd, and the Barrons. The best leaders, they felt, are actively present in community, and focused on improving it. They have the tenacity to take initiative because they are willing to do the work. Advocate for their constituents and support and celebrate the community.

They considered what makes a good citizen, emphasizing the importance of educating yourself, voting, and volunteering. A good citizen, they said, should think critically and and think of others, taking steps to be inclusive. In addition to having good values and morals, a citizen should also be law abiding and god fearing.

Brainstorming ways that leaders and citizens can collaborate to strengthen the community, an acronym enervated: Political Action Voter Education (PAVE). Both leaders and citizens they said should have a common agenda and practice active community engagement. They should collaborate to host voter registration drives and offer voter education. They should share information and include residents in opportunities  to implement new initiatives inspired by their own ideas. In addition to open dialogue and community surveys from the grassroots, they recommended using the citizens committee to address issues and increase engagement.

Envisioning the future of Brownsville ten years from now, participants thought big picture and grassroots. They envisioned a female woman of color elected as President of the United States. I’m the community, they hoped for a four-year college in Brownsville, better teacher education, and more local real estate ownership and black-owned businesses.

Tiffany Pryor, one of the co-facilitators of the community conversation described the workshop and the community’s experience taking part:

“Working with the Vision Project in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, was truly a rewarding experience!

The workshop began with community members being introspective, which set the tone that everyone is valuable and everyone is responsible for their community. We went further to educate residents on how they can become more politically astute. Upon reviewing the hand outs, which explained in detail the inner workings of our local government. It was great to see people “light up”, because they were empowered: moving from citizens to now educated voters who understand their power.

My favorite part of the workshop was listening to the hope everyone spoke of when they gave their VISION for Brownsville. I left inspired.”

Vision Project