2021 Week 4: Nonprofit Management


I admit that the fact that we’re halfway through the summer already gives me pause; where did the time go? It truly feels as if I’ve just started working at Impact Hub. That being said, I do think that the me I am now is different from the me I started off the summer as. I’ve focused on being receptive to learning and I have learned: about Baltimore, about Impact Hub, about myself. I’ve also gone into this summer highly intentional about being open to transformation, for when we open ourselves up to change we are open to an infinite number of possible futures. Each day I step into work is another chance to discover something new and to perhaps let it change me too. I’ve coveted this mindset, this goal even, since the beginning of the summer and continue to do so. I’ve seen some incipient results, too; I’m much more intentional in the ways that I care for myself, internalizing Impact Hub’s ecosystem thinking as a result of the storytelling series I’m writing has further developed the ways I analyze and identify systems and relationships, and I’ve really embraced ideas about system making and emergence. All of these things alone would be more than enough for the point I’m at in the summer. Together, they’re informing me across both my work and personal lives.

Perhaps this is a little contrarian of me, but I do think the only way you can ever meet your goals, the one thing you can do, is to show up to whatever you’re doing authentically, with intention, and open to the whole host of possibilities that might traverse your path. You have to remain flexible but grounded, open but with boundaries, realistic but creative. In this manner, I intend to face the summer the same way I’ve been facing it. Of course, I have other, more standard goals having to do with my projects, but all of that will also be achieved the same way. A series of micro-interactions and small intentions amount to a much larger pattern. Everything ripples like water. One push in the right direction and suddenly there’s a wave.


I feel like at the beginning of the summer I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to make a strong impact on my organization. I haven’t given up on this, but I’ve also recognized that I can’t always be perfect, and sometimes the most I can do is try my best and accept if other people aren’t blown away by it. I think a big part of this is also realizing that, especially when you’re an intern, most people have bigger things to worry about and 90% of the time they are more focused on the issues they have on their plate than the task you have spent hours making sure is perfect to not disappoint them. I am also accepting that it’s okay to not be productive for seven hours straight and to not beat myself up for it if I struggle. The harder I try to force myself to be productive, the less it works. I am trying to find the right balance, but I was also recently assigned a long-term project that has really turned my motivation around for the better.

I have also changed my career path recently, and it’s been really terrifying and stressful. It’s hard to focus on the present and be okay with the uncertainty when it feels like the stakes are so high. In college, especially at this college, everyone has been obsessively planning (including myself) since the first semester of freshman year their class schedules and next steps to perfectly align themselves with their intended career by graduation. In reality, the rest of the world doesn’t function this way. We’re all convinced that if we do these things that we will be set, and that anyone who doesn’t is screwed, but it’s not like that at all. I’ve been trying to remind myself of this instead of having an existential crisis.

Photo of Casey Levitt, smiling CASEY LEVITT | MADE IN BALTIMORE

One of my main goals for this summer was to learn more about communities in Baltimore and how I can best be a force for good during my time in the city. I think I have been accomplishing this goal, but in a different way than I expected. When I initially thought of communities in Baltimore, I thought of proximity-based communities, i.e. neighborhoods. But the community I’ve spent the first half of the summer learning about is not connected by their physical proximity, but by their livelihoods and creativity. With Made In Baltimore, I’ve been getting to know the city’s vibrant and growing maker community. Baltimore has a history in industrial manufacturing and has long had an active arts scene, and today these two pieces of Baltimore culture are meshed together in the city’s large network of makers, artisans, and designers. There’s also an amazing network of folks dedicated to supporting these makers, like makerspaces and tool libraries. Made In Baltimore has a huge role in connecting and supporting this community of people making things, and in my work this summer, I’ve started really getting to know this community. One thing I’ve learned is that while what Made In Baltimore does is formally called local economic development, their work is really about people. It’s about getting to know people: seeing that they’re doing and asking what they need, working together and helping each other. The members of Baltimore’s maker community show up for one another. They share knowledge and resources and they celebrate each others successes. Working at Made In Baltimore this summer has given me the incredible opportunity to get to know Baltimore’s maker community and do tangible work to help support them.

Knowing the people behind the products you buy – their faces and names, the story of how they started their business and why they do what they do – changes the act of buying profoundly. It’s incredibly hopeful and uplifting to see that capitalism doesn’t always have to look like giant corporations exploiting workers and the environment. With Made In Baltimore I’ve seen the potential for an urban economy that’s caring, that encourages creativity and puts people first, where local people make good products and make enough money to have good lives. I’m so grateful to play even a small part in it.


This week, I have really felt like I have settled into a routine. Not that I’m doing the same thing every day, but I feel much more comfortable with my work and office space. Additionally, my supervisor has gone on vacation, giving me a new opportunity to take some more individual initiative. This week, I also had the opportunity to meet other interns who are working at St. Ambrose for the summer. It was nice to talk to people in similar situations to me and discuss our goals and such.

Overall, many of my goals are still the same for this summer. I want to contribute to St. Ambrose’s work and make a difference in the community, even if that difference is small. I also want to interact with some community members and clients, and while that hasn’t happened yet, the further lifting of COVID restrictions is making that look more and more possible. However, I have added some new goals. This position has allowed me to be much more creative than I was initially anticipating. I love writing and I have been able to spearhead several essays, blog posts, and social media ideas so far. Now, I also want to use my creativity to create original content that will engage the community with St. Ambrose. This new goal has made me realize that there is an aspect of my skills and passions that I may have been overlooking in terms of application to my career goals.


Before I get into how my goals have or haven’t changed, a little update on my work in the past week! This week, I’ve been concentrating on the August edition of the WMS newsletter. It’s been a project that I’ve been aware of since the beginning, but I didn’t really feel like there was much of a point to collecting information on it before July, since a lot of the information from June wouldn’t be relevant for the August edition anyway. It feels great to finally starting pulling information and watching it come together. My supervisor and coworkers have been incredibly helpful sending over other newsletters and relevant information to pull from. We’re also doing some regulation spotlights on Right of Way permits for Block Parties and signage laws within stores to make sure people are aware of appropriate practices. I’ll need to get them reviewed, but I’ve been drafting those myself. It’s exciting stuff!

I don’t think my goals have changed wildly since the start of the summer, but I also think that, when I started, I didn’t really have highly specific expectations of what the work would be like because I wasn’t entirely sure what I’d end up working on. I’ve enjoyed the specificity of my work at Waverly Main Street–I feel like I’ve really able to get into the minutiae of the projects that I’ve been involved with, and that’s been really refreshing. Sometimes, as an intern, it feels like you’re on the periphery of a lot of projects but aren’t really able to fully sink your teeth in. In particularly, I’ve loved working on the Waverly Commons project, and I’m incredibly grateful to my supervisor for how much they’ve trusted me to work on it. I’m so invested in the well-being of this space, and I’m so excited to see it thrive in the future.

Tags: , , , , , , ,