Gathering looks at variety of economic issues

·2 min read

Jun. 12—In a state that stretches from the beaches of the Eastern Shore to the mountains in the west, finding solutions to broad social issues can be difficult in a state like Maryland.

A group that met Saturday in Frederick came to present ideas on a wide variety of issues tied to different elements of Maryland's economy.

The discussion was organized by Urban Rural Action MD, and gathered in a conference room at the Civil War Medicine Museum on East Patrick Street.

The group, the parent organization of which is headquartered in Washington, D.C., is meant to bring people together across regional, ideological, racial, religious and other divides to address common problems, said Kira Hamman, Mid-Atlantic regional director for Urban Rural Action.

They help participants improve their communications skills, then bring in partner organizations to work with small groups on different projects based around a theme, such as Maryland's economy, Hamman said.

Saturday's participants included groups partnered with the Pride Center of Maryland looking at barriers to employment for LGBTQIA+ individuals; the Education Design Lab on the future of work in Maryland; the Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center on supporting immigrant businesses; Allegany College of Maryland on promoting mind-body wellness; and Horizon Goodwill Industries on youth homelessness in Washington County.

Having allies and a support network are very important when LGBTQIA+ people are looking for jobs, and companies can help by creating an affirming and welcoming atmosphere when people come in looking for a job, said Andi Overton, who presented for the group working with the Pride Center of Maryland.

She said her group is still working on producing a 15-minute video compiling interviews with four individuals on the subject.

Education and work need to be better coordinated in the future, and progress will require designing education for the future of work, Don Fraser of the Education Design Lab said during his presentation.

The future of work means something different to different people, and will look different for a business owner than to a student in high school or college, his group partner Heather Walenga Wheeler said.

Figuring out what work will look like in the future will require answering questions such as where jobs are going to be located, what jobs will look like for people without college degrees, and how to solve problems of digital infrastructure and broadband access, she said.

Urban Rural Action begins each round of projects with a leadership team that looks at what types of topics would help people come together to strengthen our democratic society, Hamman said.

Then they look for partner organizations that can participate on the topic.

The projects can give participants something they're excited to work on and can benefit the partner organization they're working with, she said.

Follow Ryan Marshall on Twitter: @RMarshallFNP