After the Table

Meet the Host: Michael Cotter

Pictured above: Greater West Town Community Development Project’s previous On the Table event

Edited by David Rudd
May 5, 2018

Michael Cotter is assistant director of program development and communications at Greater West Town Community Development Project (GWTP). This is Michael’s second year participating in On the Table with a host agency. This table will tackle the toll of trauma and stress on communities and their residents.

What are some issues you’d like to discuss at your table this year?

We will focus on stress and trauma, and their impact on communities and the residents who live in them. Our focus will be on bringing to light the stress and trauma that may be caused by, or even affect, the state of a community.”

How did you like your last On the Table experience?

In my first hosting role, it was really interesting to see the geographic diversity at the table. While GWTP has a targeted service area, the agency’s clients come from communities throughout the city of Chicago. Each event participant shared his or her concerns about what they’d like to see changed in their community, and people seemed a little surprised to learn that their concerns were the same. People identified with their neighborhood pretty closely, but it was good for class cohesion to learn that we experienced some of the same community concerns, like violence and high school dropout rates. The whole point is to create actual plans that serve as hope.”

Pictured above: Michael Cotter, assistant director of program development and communications at Greater West Town Community Development Project (GWTP)

Why are these issues important to you?    

By speaking generally about different trauma and stress that affect individuals, we hope to reveal that these problems are not necessarily isolated or unique, but that we all silently deal with traumas each day that may also be shared by our neighbors, classmates or colleagues. By discussing and coming up with frameworks for solutions, our participants will work together to create ways to address these issues when they arise. “

Pictured above: Greater West Town Community Development Project (GWTP) discussed economic development issues facing the community at its last On the Table event.

What do you hope to accomplish through your table?    

After compiling and categorizing different kinds of traumas and stress collectively as a large group, smaller groups will be formed, and each group will be assigned a different issue to address. Each small group will consist of vocational training students and one or more staff members. Each smaller group will have a conversation to come up with possible adaptations or solutions to dealing with the problems that hinder individual and community betterment.”