Ulicia Lawrence-Oladeinde is a Spring 2021 Citizens Planning Institute graduate. She is also the Director of Community Education at Temple University, the Director of the Pan-African Studies Education Program, on the Point Breeze neighborhood subcommittee, on the Executive Board for Reconstruction INC, as well as actively serving many other neighborhood organizations. Her years of community engagement and advocacy do not stop there. Ulicia is always trying to make connections within her community.
Recently, she has decided to start an initiative of her own. Ulicia is replicating the Lenfest North Philadelphia Workforce Initiative (LNPWI) table talks model in her neighborhood of Point Breeze. These table talks are informal conversations, set up for the community, to gain insight from their lived experiences. They provide opportunities for residents to connect and address issues that are occurring in their neighborhoods. The table talks have seen great success with LNPWI in North Philadelphia. They have provided the organization with information that will guide their approach to workforce development in the neighborhood.
Ulicia was a large part of this original effort. She saw firsthand the connections and dialog the table talks created. So, she wants to use this model to create a safe forum to discuss the current issues at hand in Point Breeze. These table talks will give South Philadelphia citizens the opportunity to talk about what they think is important in their neighborhood and how they can address it.
The purpose of this project is to show citizens the resources available to them. Ulicia also hopes to give them the platform to articulate what resources they think they need. Ulicia pointed out that a lot of the time we assume a community’s needs. We do not actually ask them what would be the most useful and impactful in their neighborhood. Thus, Ulicia will use these talks for open and honest conversations that discuss both the issues going on in the neighborhood, as well as the current gaps in Point Breeze.
Ulicia is aiming to bring on organizations that represent all age groups in her neighborhood. This will allow for constructive and meaningful conversations. She is deliberate about relationship building. She wants to hear everyone’s voice and reach a wider audience than she would otherwise be able to on her own. Thus far, Ulicia has been able to gain support from many organizations such as Temple University, Achieving Reunification Center, Yesha Ministries Workshop Center, State Representative Jordan Harris, State Senator Anthony Williams, along with many other potential community organizations.
Ulicia credits CPI for showing her all the opportunities there are across the city to connect with what she is doing. Because she has been a community advocate and worked in this field for such a significant amount of time, she felt like she had tunnel vision. Although, the diverse instructors and topics covered in the CPI courses, opened her mind to all the connections and opportunities that she has yet to pursue. She now feels as if she has a wider network, along with an information guide to support her in her future projects.
“I want to replicate this model in South Philadelphia so that we can start to have dialogues around the things that the citizens in South Philadelphia feel are the most important.”
“Not only do I want to make sure that people in South Philadelphia start to learn about what resources are around them, and are available to them, but I also want to give them the voice to say what resources and what concerns they have and they need.”
“I’m not above begging to get assistance for my community. I won’t do it for myself, but I’ll do it for my community.”
“I keep the CPI folder beside me at all times.”