PATERSON, NJ- The time for Paterson’s change is now, and for the Paterson residents, among the nearly 200 stakeholders that also included a mix of community leaders, government officials and local non-profit leaders gathered in Passaic County College (PCCC) on Monday, it’s their “creative thinking” that is going to bring it. 

The event, hosted by Creative New Jersey, is aimed at sparking new ideas through “open space” workshops designed to break down silos that regularly exist between people, organizations, and sectors to help solve community problems.

The workshops started out with an orientation that describes what Creative New Jersey is all about. Host Team member Michael Powell, who also serves as executive director of continuing education & workforce development at PCCC broke the ice with an inviting speech thanking attendees for being part of the “really important moment” taking place.

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Saying that the planning kicked off seven months ago, Creative Paterson Co-Chair Inge Spungen explained that while the gathering may not solve all of Paterson’s problems it will “create a roadmap to improve the future of our city.”

According to Elizabeth Murphy, Creative New Jersey’s Executive Director, this event, similar to others that have been held in Asbury Park, Atlantic City, Camden, and other cities help to bring the community together to support and bring positive change. “There is a dialogue that is being advanced to support all people who live here, to be fair and a thriving city, ” she explained.

Among the stakeholders participating in the breakout sessions that will define the day’s agenda is Superintendent Eileen Shafer. “We want to improve not only our community but the educational system as well,” Shafer told TAPinto Paterson. Shafer said she chose to sit in on a session regarding safety because she “would like the students to feel comfortable and safe when it comes to school.

“This topic just excites me. I believe it is Paterson’s time,” said Dr. Lilisa Mimms who will be sworn in as a member of the Paterson City Council on July 1. “The answers we seek in Paterson will be found by us, we will be the change our city needs.”

“I hope to meet new people, generate some new ideas, it’s a cool time to be in Paterson,” Giancarlo Di Lonardo said before starting a discussion on getting from planning to implementation on various projects and programs designed to improve Paterson. Referring to the transition of Mayor-Elect Andre Sayegh he continued “This is a start of the new administration and good fresh ideas, which will help impact the next administration.”

Participants in the “Call to Collaboration” all committed to participating in the full two days and will return to PCCC to continue discussion ideas and generating plans on Tuesday.