Grand Prairie residents get ready to take part in a Community Table headed by Grand Prairie Mayor, Ron Jensen. Celebrating diversity, Jensen says “One of my key messages during my term as Mayor has been “Let’s Get Along.” It was the theme of my remarks at the Unity Coalition Dinner earlier this year and part of my State of the City address. It became applicable to me during my remarks at Andy White’s retirement. I am Anglo and Andy is African- American. Andy retired from the city as it’s Assistant to the City Manager. Andy and I have worked together for years, but we really became friends playing cards apart from work. At work, we talked about work. Over a card table, we talked about family and life.”
Jensen noted that at White’s retirement, he said “If more old men like me knew more old men like Andy, discrimination would be eliminated.”
After these remarks, Jensen says that a number of folks told him “how true" and that a lightbulb went off “so I needed to create ways to make that happen,” he explains. “Thus, the Mayor’s Community Table was born. The first is a luncheon. If it is successful, we’ll conduct three to four times a year and have some dinners too.”
Overall, the main goal for the first luncheon is to bring together people of diverse ages, backgrounds, ethnicities and races to get to know one another over a meal. There will be no format, no speaker and no program, just a meet and greet at a table of people who are “not like you.” Moderators will assist, but the city will be assigning the seats to ensure a good mix of folks.
“At our first event, I’m hoping for at least 100 people,” Jensen says. “Ultimately, I’d love to pack the Ruthe Jackson Center with 400 if the first event proves successful and we plan more.”
Jensen says that many cities conduct lots of events and programs to bring communities together and celebrate diversity so in that regard his quest is not unusual “in fact our own Unity Coalition celebrates diversity annually at their banquet,” he expalains “but, I am unaware of any other Mayors or cities who may be having similar luncheons or dinners. No program, no speaker, just get to know the people at your table. For homework, I’m asking each table to get together with their table mates, and their families if appropriate, over the summer to do something fun together.”
The first luncheon will be held on Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 11:30 a.m. at the Ruthe Jackson Center, 3113 S. Carrier Parkway in Grand Prairie.
RSVP to 972-237-8012 and include the following information to ensure a great mix of folks at each table:
Age: 20-35; 36-50; 51-65; 66+
Race: African American; Hispanic;Asian; Caucasian; Other
Gender: Female; Male
For additional information visit the city website at www.gptx.org.