We are heartbroken and angered feeling the sadness and outrage of the last fourteen days of events in our communities all over our country. Our communities are the places, the public spaces – our plazas, parks, squares, and commons where we as a democratic society have historically met and they continue to be the gathering places where we go for our voices to be heard. These are the places where we are emotionally connected and the spaces we choose to be physically connected to one another. We have a role as community leaders to do our part in working to create open and inclusive opportunities for all to participate in making our communities places where people choose to live and invest.

Now is the time for us as a people, as a society, and as a country to come together. We cannot solve decades and generations of injustice and inequality without coming together to talk, but more importantly, to listen… actively listen… about finding solutions - common solutions to move forward.

The Pennsylvania Downtown Center continues to be committed to being an active listener in our communities and to do our part to bring about change.* We believe that our downtowns and neighborhoods need to be safe places for all to be – to live, to gather, to worship, to celebrate.

Change – or true transformative change, occurs when there is a shift in one’s perspective, a shift in attitude, and a shift in behavior. Consider asking yourself and your organization: Are we as community leaders leading by example and supporting and encouraging change? What are we doing so that the change that does occur is: healthy, inclusive, sustainable, and welcoming? What is our legacy to the younger generations – how are we leaving our neighborhoods, our communities, and our world, better than how we found them? What are those issues in our own community that have been divided – whether by the political spectrum or by other varying opinions and viewpoints?

This is the internal dialogue that is occurring in every neighborhood, town, and city all over America, and all over the world, moving from ‘us’ and ‘them’ to ‘we’.

We as a society need to move forward to enact this change. We can no longer expect that by doing nothing, something will change. As long as we are silent – nothing will change.

As community nonprofit organizations we can all work to create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive culture. Is your board reflective and representative of your community? Do you provide a platform for all community members? Does everyone have an opportunity to have a seat at the table? Do your MBE/person-of-color-owned businesses have access to fair and equitable working capital and contracts? Are our neighborhoods equitable for all? These are areas that PA Downtown Center is committed to working harder with you to create a more lasting and meaningful impact.

“Remember, nobody is voiceless. They are just unheard.” - www.grassrootslaw.org

*At the November 2019 Pennsylvania Downtown Center board meeting, the board approved moving forward with developing a diversity, equity, and inclusion statement for the organization. Following the lead of the National Main Street Center, PDC intends to use this time as an opportunity for critical analysis and refection on the role PDC can play in advancing these values. Main Street is a place for all. It is a gathering place where we can all come together to celebrate, honor, grieve, and demonstrate. It is a safe place, a sacred place – a special place. If you or someone you know is interested in serving on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force, please contact me at juliefitzpatrick@padowntown.org.