2019 Week 6: Nonprofit Management
On January 1, 2018, I decided to do something about the fact that time was passing too fast for me to appreciate life. Sounds lofty, but all I did was start a running journal of daily highlights so that I could remember the moments that make me smile each day. One-and-a-half years of keeping up with this habit has made me a more reflective and grateful human being, and even more so this summer. The past two months have gifted me with some of the loveliest memories, so I hope you enjoy reading my favorite ones…
May 30— Teared up while watching “State of Pride” at night, made today’s Safe Zone training feel all the more necessary and powerful
June 1— Tried a new Thai restaurant in Hampden with the Peer Mentors, ate ice cream outside after, felt like a perfect summer night
June 11— Unwinded on the Beach by myself after Bites, watched the sunset turn the sky a cotton-candy color, wrote a long email to a friend abroad, one of my mentees told me some good news that made my night
June 14— Unexpectedly ran into my favorite YouthWorker from last summer on the 22 and made plans to catch up
June 25— Met with a Kiva Borrower at the library to learn about all the incredible things she’s been up to since getting her loan, felt really uplifted hearing her story
July 1— Wore my favorite skirt to go salsa dancing with friends at Sandlot, the whole night made my heart feel so full
July 9—Weather was wonderful for bike riding, good talk with another intern over dinner at Bites, watched Toy Story 4 with my mentees
July 17— Fought through a torrential downpour to get to Minato for a mini reunion with my Peer Mentor group from last summer
July 21—Watched a dope band at Artscape and was reminded of how much I love this city and its people
Reading my daily highlights always makes me feel all sorts of happy, so here’s to Baltimore and CIIP for giving me so many more to smile back on.
Sometimes, working at Impact Hub feels like I’m interning at a dozen businesses. There is the Impact Hub Baltimore team, but most of the members there are leading completely different startups and businesses that I’m really just starting to become familiar with. Members aside, the community there is constantly shifting.
Last week, I interviewed my first member for my upcoming blog project: Rebecca Yenawine, the Executive Director of the Teacher’s Democracy Project. This past week, I interviewed four members at Impact Hub for my upcoming blog project. Poet Olu Butterfly Woods. Sam Frank, founder of roofing contractor Four Twelve Roofing. Pickett Slater-Harrington, the founder of Joltage, a social change design firm that strives to forge stronger connections between institutions and community members. Ana Rodney, founder of MOMCares — one of the CIIP placements that are members of IHB.
Getting to spend half an hour talking to each of these members made this past week the most fulfilling one of the summer. They lead completely different initiatives but they share one thing in common: a genuine love and commitment to the city and uplifting the voices of those in Baltimore who are so often ignored.
But out of these interviews, there was one that struck me most: my interview with Ana.
I spoke to her in one of Impact Hub’s phone booths, hunched over my iPhone. As I was transcribing the interview — a little over half an hour and 3,783 words — I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to do Ana and her story justice with a mere blog post of a few hundred words. I certainly won’t be able to do it justice here.
Going into the interview, I knew the basics: that MOMCares provides self-care workshops and postpartum doula services to single, low-income mothers of color in the NICU. But I was not quite prepared for the personal, tumultuous backstory of what inspired Ana to found that initiative. And though I knew that there is a disproportionate death rate among black mothers and children in this city and the rest of the country, it was my first time talking to a survivor of that crisis. That really made a difference.
Ana almost lost her life during her first pregnancy. Her sister, who was pregnant at the same time as Ana, did lose her life. On top of that, Ana also gave birth around the time of Freddie Gray’s death. She told me that what with the Uprising, the people who were supposed to be taking care of her in the hospital were blatantly discriminatory towards her.
“This is a deeply personal issue for me that keeps me moving forward,” she said. “this is something that I needed as part of my life’s work and part of my life’s purpose, which is to #correctthecrisis…of maternal health disparity. And I believe that is possible. I believe that we can see, we can see actual improvements and closing of the gap of these numbers through intentional work and community building and being supportive of each other in the community.”
SOFIA CUENCA | CENTRAL BALTIMORE PARTNERSHIP
From week one, the amount of collaboration with other CIIP interns has been one of my favorite aspects of my internship experience. This week was a perfect example of how working together and intertwining each other’s goals can be an integral step toward success. Gabe, who is working for Jubilee Arts, mentioned that one of his roles this summer is to sell the mosaic address signs his YouthWorkers made. After sending an initial email to my supervisor at Central Baltimore Partnership we began to brainstorm community projects who could benefit from Jubilee Art’s work. It just so happened that Central Baltimore Partnership was in the process of planning a Wells Fargo volunteer event as a requirement for one of the grants they currently receive. After piecing some logistical details together, it was decided that Central Baltimore partnership would organize a mosaic address sign workshop hosted by Jubilee Arts at the Nate Tatum Center, where CIIP intern Ben is working.
This project while fairly simple, has a lot of moving pieces. Gabe was responsible for the initial contact and was able to arrange some of the logistics of the workshop with his supervisor at Jubilee Arts. Central Baltimore Partnership was in charge of coordinating the whole event, being the liaison between Wells Fargo, Jubilee Arts, The Nate Tatum Center, and any other organization in between. Finally, since this event seeks to serve the residents of Barclay by offering them a simple, free opportunity to beautify their home community outreach and target blocks were identified by the Nate Tatum Center. Together, Ben and I went door knocking in Barclay, asking interested homeowners to fill out the survey Gabe helped create.
While some of the details are still in the works and the mosaic-making workshop will not take place until next week, this project was truly a team effort. Building relationships with the community is definitely important, but Central Baltimore partnership has shown me that building relationships with organizations and stakeholders at all levels is crucial to moving actions forward and leveraging opportunity.
FreeState Justice is a statewide organization committed to ensuring that LGBTQ Marylanders can live authentically and with dignity no matter where in the state they may be. As such, it’s important for us to foster and maintain working relationships with a variety of community-based partners from across Maryland. This helps us accomplish a wide variety of our strategic objectives; for example, our coalition-building efforts have been a major feature of FreeState Justice’s policy advocacy strategy.
We also tend to partner with local LGBTQ community organizations for sponsorships, tabling, and co-hosting at community building events. This is where my work at FreeState Justice has intersected the most with that of other organizations represented in CIIP. Most notably, we’ve worked with Chase Brexton to help put together the Gender Journey Conference Mid-Atlantic, which will unite families, friends, and allies of LGBTQ youth in a weekend-long exploration of what it means to be in one of these families. While this event has been postponed until 2020, we’ve also sought partners for our Zoo Day and Queer Arts Night events.
To me, the power of coalitions and partnerships like these are a testament to what people can accomplish if we work together. By pooling our resources, both human and otherwise, we can amplify our voices as we speak to power and shape the systems in which we live. It doesn’t even have to be in the nonprofit sector; even in our everyday lives, two heads are inevitably better than one.
But, for me, this has brought up a question that has been common in the social work discourse: What is the place of an outsider in working to build a community? For example, how should a white person navigate working alongside majority minority communities? In my experience, most people would say that they should almost wholly defer and work to implement the ideas that the community creates for itself. But what if the idea of the outsider just happens to be better? No matter how rare you might think that to be, it’s definitely possible.
On the one hand, I’m certainly not arrogant enough to think that the experiences of somebody from outside of a community are as directly applicable to a situation as those of somebody in that community, but on the other, I’m also not arrogant enough to dismiss an idea simply because of who is presenting it. It could be that the idea is absolutely awful because of the perspective that the outsider is missing; even if that’s the case, to do anything but explain what it is that they’re missing would be useless in progressing the conversation.
MADELINE AMONICK | STATION NORTH ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT DISTRICT
Artscape is America’s largest free arts festival. With a mechanic installation of a squid, maps of the Chesapeake Bay made from plastic straws, life-size sheep and astronauts, free film showings, more than two hundred artisans and vendors, there was plenty to discover this weekend. If I’ve learned anything about the arts and community development, is that both are built upon the foundations of storytelling. I’ve known this for my own personal development as a writer, but this summer has cemented the transmissibility and application to the community as a whole. Stories of community members not only reveal a rich past but also a bright future.
I’ve come in contact with many people who don’t see the value of art and stories because they don’t see their implicit value in shaping the world around us despite oral traditions being the literal bedrock of human communication. While the mediums we have to express ourselves have expanded beyond traditional forms of visual arts, the desire to create is innate. In summation, don’t be the person to knock the arts and humanities when you haven’t spent enough time listening to the reason why people do it. When I first started my internship, I was too focused on the idea of arts as a sign of luxury and wealth. That narrative doesn’t fully encompass the role of art across different cultures. Listening the to the stories of artists throughout my internship and Artscape, many people use art as an avenue to break from oppressive systems by creating outside of traditional limits of communication. Art can be so many things and mean so much, I’m not surprised Baltimore would transform to put on such a large celebration such as Artscape!Tags: Baltimore Corps, Central Baltimore Partnership, CIIP, ciip 2019, Freestate Justice, Impact Hub, SNAE, Station North Arts & Entertainment District