About 1,000 people were expected to attend but the “Envision Prince George’s 21st Century Town Meeting,” by the end of the event, at least 2,000 more had shown up, setting a milestone in Prince George’s history.
Residents, concerned about the growth and well-being of their communities, eagerly participated in the free event that was open to anyone living or working in the county.
“ shows that people are very concerned about their community and that everyone who came out wants improvement ,” County Executive Jack Johnson told the AFRO. “It also shows that we have to do it collectively,” he said, alluding to the hundreds of round tables spread about a huge room at the the Sports and Learning Complex in Landover, Md. “The seating was designed for participants to have more interaction about the quality of life that they are looking for.”
The day-long March 20 forum , which capped off more than a year of public engagement, provided residents and community stakeholders –young and old – an opportunity to brainstorm ideas and share solutions for uplifting Prince George’s future over the next 20 years.
Seated at the numbered rounds in groups of eight and led into discussion by facilitators, they talked about schools, the environment, transportation — even sidewalks and the Metro system.
“ I think it was a wonderful event,” Johnson said of the launched by Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. “The next step is how to go about channeling all the ideas into action,” Johnson continued. “The issue is sustainability and we’re going to have to find a way to do that.”
In bringing together the massive effort in which several organizations — including U.S. Census Bureau representatives and the Prince George’s County branch NAACP — participated, extensive outreach was conducted to ensure a diverse cross section of the county, which is 64 percent African American. Forty percent of households there fall into the $100,000 or more income bracket, according to a town meeting preliminary report.
Sharon Howard, NAACP membership chairperson, said the organization’s participation was twofold.
“One was to support the 2010 Census, so that we could talk to people about the importance of filling out their forms and sending them back as soon as possible in order to be counted,” Howard said. She said in addition, that branch members sat at individual tables to help participants understand the citizenry’s needs and how they might be envisioned.
Mitchellville resident Donna Dean’s husband sits on the event’s advisory council and she attended to see whether county resident’s would come out in record numbers. Dean said that as far as she knew, the attendance set a precedent for the county.
“The citizens really out did themselves, it’s been tremendous,” Dean said. “History has been made.”