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Share Our America
SHARE OUR AMERICA, a new initiative of 92Y’s Belfer Center for Innovation and Social Impact, is founded on the idea that change can happen — and that begins on a one-to-one basis — person by person, community by community.
SHARE OUR AMERICA is a new domestic cultural exchange program, designed to bring diverse and disparate individuals together to share their viewpoints and better understand each other’s worldviews — with the goal of fostering understanding, respect, and empathy.
Share Our America experiences are rooted in local communities: co-designed and led by community organizations and leaders across the United States. I had the utmost honor to be immersed in the two month community leader cohort. In this engaging cohort, we learned facilitation training with Essential Partners, connected with other community leaders facing similar challenges from across the state, and then ran two-day Share Our America gatherings in your communities.
The framework of Share Our America is designed to bring people from each of our communities together to lend dialogue around a topic plaguing our respective communities. I carefully curated participants across generational, racial, and economic identities to experience cultural activities and dialogue centered around economic progression in our community, It was important as the facilitator and host to offer an opportunity to see Memphis through an unfamiliar lens and hear a perspective that under normal day to day living most of my participants would not.
Our two day Share Our America experience began at 11 am on a Saturday at Memphis Rox in Soulsville. I organized an intentional team building exercise with the objective of defining a goal, building active team players or climbers I should say, and those who would play supportive roles. It was a life changing experience for many in which we broke through emotional barriers and illustrated what it meant in real time to #climbtogether. Following the experience, we introduced our topic The Spirit of Stagnation: Economics in Memphis over catered barbeque.
Our afternoon together was closed out at Stax Museum of American Soul Music. When talking about the height of economic progression in Memphis, I think of Stax Records. Taking the participants back in time was an opportunity to show the possibilities of economic restoration in Memphis through a defined infrastructure,
Day Two began with A Tour of Possibilities, a driving tour that takes you on an enlightening journey showcasing contributions made by African Americans to Memphis' business, music, sports, politics, education, and arts. I chose this tour with one goal in mind, to show the economic progress and contributions of Black Memphians made to a once thriving city. A Tour of Possibilities was my way of showing you have to know where you have been to see all of the possibilities of where you can go.
Food and music bring Memphians together. Our final element of the Share Our America gathering closed out with a Soulful Sunday brunch catered by Jim and Samella's in Uptown. It was a collaborative experience with my fellow Memphis cohort participant, Tanja Mitchell. We found a way to merge both of our topics, youth violence, and economics.
Interested in engaging with us for creative placemaking work?
We love working with community leaders, organizations, and change agents to creatively help people find their place, tell stories, and design thoughtful experiences. Our North Star really shines bright when we engage around cogenerational work.
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