Pictured above: Jose Wilson of North Lawndale Employment Network, 2018 On the Table host.
Edited by: Yolanda Y. Harris | April 30, 2018
Jose Wilson is director of workforce programs and clinical services at The North Lawndale Employment Network. This year marks the third year that The North Lawndale Employment Network has hosted an On the Table discussion, and Jose’s second year leading the discussion. Jose’s table will occur during breakfast and focus on drug use among youth and young adults.
What drew you back as an On the Table host this year?
“We had a hugely successful and engaging conversation with our clients that focused on the multitudes of systemic barriers they face, such as mass incarceration, employment, tensions with police, poverty and gun violence. We look forward to continuing these conversations this year as we unpack the challenges our participants face and the solutions to resolve these issues.”
What are some issues you’d like to discuss at your table?
“This year, we will discuss the following question: Why are so many of our youth, young adults and residents using drugs? We will invite emerging adults to participate in the discussion. Last year, we focused on an adult population.”
Why are these issues important to you?
“We hope to gain a better understanding of the driving forces causing the use of drugs in our community, especially marijuana. Unpacking the reasons for the drug use and types used can help identify the best intervention strategies to support the users.”
How has being a host for On the Table in past years benefitted your organization?
“It has drawn us closer to our participants and those our organization serves. It helps remove the unspoken power dynamics that can exist between nonprofit staffers and clients so that we can connect with and better understand our clients and the obstacles they face. This leads to improved programs, strategies and approaches to reducing poverty and violence.”
What tips can you offer other hosts who are organizing tables?
“Set the stage. We provided some helpful, guest-guided conversation parameters to ensure everyone felt safe and respected to engage in deep, meaningful dialog. We wrote out on paper at the front of the room some guidelines, such as “no judgement zone.” This allows guests to feel free enough to be themselves and not fearful of judgement and backlash. We wanted guests to be open and expressive since it can be hard to discuss difficult topics in an unfamiliar setting. “
Pictured above: Staff and guests from Northlawndale Employment Network’s 2017 On the Table.