Patrick Robinson, Economic Development Fellow, reflects on his service term and the importance of picking up loose ends.
A few months ago, I was given the opportunity to add a new focus to my service term. After having spent the beginning of my time serving with Black Owned Maine and the Greater Portland Resilience Exchange, I pivoted to two new projects – GPCOG’s 2023 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) and supporting the Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center (IWC).
For my service regarding the CEDS, I research and write about what other Municipal Planning Organizations have assessed as strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for their respective regions, comparing and contrasting those regions with Greater Portland. My favorite way of describing research is that it’s a lot of picking up loose ends – pieces of information left around from other organizations – and tying them into something new. Instead of tying a shoe or patching together a quilt, I’m writing my views on what the economic development foci of the Greater Portland region should be.
A lot of my service at the IWC is also like picking up loose ends. As a team member at a small non-profit, you have to be adept at finding loose ends, so that you can best support your organization’s mission, which in this case is to serve “as a hub for collaboration that strengthens the immigrant community through language acquisition, economic integration and civic engagement.”
The intern who helped immigrant small business owners apply for interest-free loans just returned to college? That’s a loose end.
An election is coming up in a few months, and people across the region are confused about ranked choice voting – somehow, the only documents available about the topic are in English? Also a loose end.
Our organization’s informational brochure is out of date and needs more accurate descriptions of our programs? Loose end.
I’ve been incredibly lucky to serve alongside Reza Jalali and Mary Starr at the IWC who have been so welcoming to me, giving me their trust to create my own new projects. I’ve been granted the chance to write about the impact immigrants have on elections, help small business owners apply for grants and interest-free loans that’ll keep their doors open, and conduct outreach offering free online English language classes.
As I end my service term with the Resilience Corps, I find myself reflecting on the different opportunities and challenges I’ve faced throughout this year. I moved to a new city, worked remotely for the first time, and endured Maine winter. I learned how to facilitate a zoom meeting, built relationships with and provided support to small business owners, and now end sentences in emails with periods instead of exclamation points. I’m eternally grateful to have been given this opportunity to join such an impressive group of change agents, and I look forward to seeing the loose ends that the next Resilience Corps cohort ties up!
About Patrick Robinson
Patrick is from New York City and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Dickinson College. Prior to attending Dickinson, he did a year of service with City Year Philadelphia, where he tutored and mentored 7th grade students. He is passionate about community service, advancing equity and working on teams to solve complex problems. In his free time, he loves cooking, watching soccer and listening to podcasts. He is excited to join the Resilience Corps to help communities recover and adapt for a post-pandemic future.