In the next two months Camden institutions, organizations and grassroots groups will host a trio of major conferences around the issues of education, poverty and public safety in the city.
Although all three events were in the works well before the recent NBC news spotlight on Camden, organizers say the conferences will take a deeper look at the city’s problems than the glimpses offered by melodramatic images in the media.
“How about…shedding a little light on the creativity and energy of individuals and organizations making real change here every day?” says Pamela Rainey Lawler, of Catholic Partnership Schools.
Her organization is hosting a “2013 Education Summit” on Monday, March 18 at the Burlington County College campus in Mount Laurel. It is expected to draw 250 attendees from the Mid-Atlantic region and will explore “how children can overcome the psychological and emotional impact of poverty, violence and other impediments to learning,” Lawler says.
“The Challenge of Camden, The Challenge for America” conference is set for Monday, April 22 at Rutgers-Camden. Sponsored by the Center for Urban Research and Education at Rutgers-Camden, it will look at the significance of inner city disinvestment and blight on the larger society.
“Those of us who live, work, and study in Camden know that our city is much, much greater than simplistic headlines and sound bites,” says Mike Sepanic, associate chancellor for external relations at Rutgers-Camden.
And on May 6, the “Camden Trauma Summit” will examine the impact of violence on the lives of adults and children in the city. The event at the Cooper Medical School of Rowan University has been organized by the community organization Stop the Trauma, Violence and Murder, which formed in response to the spike in the homicide rate.
"The importance of the summit is to have an open dialogue," says Angel Osorio, one of the organizers. "Hopefully, out of that open dialogue will come a plan of action."