Vid: Juice Dreams

Naturally IsisSweet Beets and Sassafras vision for a juice bar is a shared dream in alignment with Susu’s mission to assist in the launch of socially responsible business in the Southern sector of Dallas, Tx.  We are excited to make our juicy dreams come true with the launch of this popUp Juice Bar collaboration.  Check the video!

THANK YOU for supporting healthy business in the community. Continue reading “Vid: Juice Dreams”

Summer Solstice On Historic Show Hill: Market Pop Up

Summer Solstice, June 21, 2014

Show Hill is located on 8th Street in the Tenth Street Historic District in Oak Cliff, Dallas, Texas at the top of an area called’The Bottoms’ due to its low-lying location.  The Show Hill land was once a vibrant community hub for retail, food and socializing on the hill.

The lot sits empty and filled with rocks, fringed by lush green and fanned by the hum of cars flying around the dead man’s curve that serves as the hill’s front door.  Atop this historic ground,  boasting one of the best views of downtown Dallas available, on this once vital block of business,  we payed homage to its great history by ‘activating the vacancy’ with a fresh business presence.

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The design and build crew included bcWorkshop and neighborhood members and Activating Vacancies grantees that created market booths from the bamboo that grows freely throughout the area.

The result was a simple and beautiful market layout. The far side of the hill was designed with a walkway of market booths, the bcworkshop’s multi-purpose deck served as the stage, and there was a little food market and cafe.  Graduates from the Susu Cultural Business Incubator’s Vendor Certification Program and other local businesses brought the Hill to life.

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The day was a sun kissed affair with plenty of great activities. The prolific DJ O kept the scene vibrant with the good music vibes for everyone.  Live music from Don Bell Blues and a T-Bone Walker tribute serenaded the Tenth Street District. The activity list was packed with education and fun for everyone.  In addition to the market activities like: face painting with storyteller Melody Bell, interactive art workshops with Oil and Cotton, the midday Zumba workout, you did not want to miss Benny Walker’s Bob Cat ride!  Another Activating Vacancy project, ‘Ghost Bridges’,with urban design innovators Rabble Workshop, provided walking tours of the neighborhood.

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The vendors for the Show Hill Market really ‘showed out’ with a wide selection of unique hand-crafted goods and specialty services offered in the market.  Vendors displayed clothing, jewelry, art, bath & body products, and natural foods and artisanal drinks.

Meet some of the vendors:

Tenth Street Historic District, The Bottoms, Oak Cliff, South Dallas, The Hood: Home to a Neighborhood Market where you can sample home-brewed Kombucha and organic vegan tacos after a massage under the trees and some quick gift shopping while listening to live blues music overlooking the Dallas early summer skyline!

We are on a mission to develop local business, stimulate economic exchange and community re investment as a means to build neighborhood and guide the tide of re-urbanization.  We would love to hear from you!  Leave a comment below.  Join us for the next Susu Market on July 12, 2014.  Vendor Certification classes begin in August 2014.  Send an email to susuVendor@gmail.com . Your positive participation and contributions are welcome.

 

 

Photo Credits: bcWorkshop, Jamila Mendez, Herschel Yelder, Tracey Clarke, Twymeka Jendayi Hill-Jones

– Tisha Crear

What is Susu Economics ?

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<< Click on the image to view the Susu Economics Intro Video.

Learn a little about Susu Economics while listening to music from the Pan African Orchestra. Read about Susu’s many names and get some ideas for starting a susu circle. Pool your resources! Susu is a ‘small small’ way to make BIG moves. Fund your goals and aspirations. …Want to research more? Click the links below and check it out!

LINKS: Investment Clubs-Black Bank Initiative

ROSCA’s- What’s In A Name

Micro Finance- Credit Lending Models

Ghana Co-op Susu Collectors Association

Ujamaa -Tanzania and Nyerere

Susu Economics: The History of Pan-African (Black) Trade, Commerce, Money and Truth Part 1 (History of Pan-African Trade, Commerce, Money, and Wealth) (Pt. 1)

Field Notes: Dallas Business Scene

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Reciprocity

In the mid 1990’s I and a business partner, Emmanuel Gillespie, opened a cultural arts venue called Reciprocity in a small store front in Oak Cliff, Texas.Emmanuel had just closed down his art gallery on the edge of Deep Ellum called Onasile. I was putting together the pieces after the organization, Soul Nation, founded with classmates, burst into Soul Rep Theatre Company, Baduism and Hollywood acting careers.  I moved forward with Reciprocity.  The goal was to provide a local space for the growing Black Arts and Culture movement: a place for artists to network, a place to springboard ideas and a place for community health and cultural awareness.  Reciprocity was a blessed experience because we got to work out many concepts such as: business projects like the Black Market Food Co-op, Reciprocity Records, The Healthy Child Lunch Program; growing local businesses with the consignment store; building the café/juice bar; tapping into the national & international circuit of health and Black/ African studies lecturers and spoken word scene.

The Dallas Black business scene had a voice and strong presence at that time.  In Wynnewood Village Shopping Center alone, there was Black Images Books, Strictly Vegetarian, Ngozi’s, a small health food store, and a pet shop.  All Black owned businesses and many catering to a cultural niche like the great African art and resource center Pan African Connection.  During this time in the 90’s there were a couple of Black bookstores in Arlington, Roots ‘N Culture in Ft. Worth; there was retail like the Forest complex in South Dallas that housed Elaine’s Kitchen, Sonny’s hip-hop clothing shop, Cultural Insights (that became Sankofa in the landmark Green Parrot spot); then there was Touch of Africa and Carib-B on Lower Greenville, Alternative Videos on Exposition; businesses like Irie Connection, Isis Ancestral Braiding, and the list goes on and on!  The independent Black businesses were present! And here, in 2012, a handful of those businesses are still open.

When we opened Reciprocity, this was the business atmosphere we were participating in.  As I reflect back to move forward, there are three thoughts I would like to share today:

One:

One God, One Aim, One Destiny – Garvey

I recently completed a graduate business program at UT Dallas where we reviewed a case study on Texas Instruments (TI). The case discussed how during the .com boom, TI created an intrapreneurial program as a way to keep innovation in-house.  The program allowed for employees to, basically, start a company or be an entrepreneur within the company. This included a share in the ownership of ideas and the opportunity for those ideas to manifest under the powerful machine of TI. So, instead of leaving the company to start a small company, why not propose the ideas through the intrapreneur program at TI and maintain ownership and profits from your idea as it goes through testing, marketing and distribution at levels that you would not have access to as a start-up company.  The parent company, TI in this instance, expands its products and innovation while the innovator also has opportunity to expand and benefit;  an entrepreneur with an instant ‘backer’. Win-Win. What if we had rocked it like this at Reciprocity? Instead of the creative businesses breaking out and going for self, what if structures were in place to develop and launch individual business within a collective business structure?  The expansion and support of generating business must be an integral part of the business model.  Yes, the collective building on wealth.  We have a wealth of business ideas in our communities.  How to build them and profit from them together? To Do: seek resources of Incubator/Accelerator Models; adapt and expand on best practices of co-ops and chains like the Hiawatha franchise model. See it here .

Two:

Put Some With Some

What if during this era of a thriving Black business community, while renting spaces around town, a designated amount of monthly profits was set aside for a ‘building fund’? or ‘scholarship fund’? Or to any project that works towards building community health and wealth? To Do: Make a conscious effort to direct profits and reinvest in improvement and expansion; Develop savings models, practice individual and collective saving; educate- financial literacy.

Susu is talking and she says, the idea of pooling resources, you know: put something with something to make something, is an old powerful tool and it’s yours.

A quick example: If 10 businesses commit to $1000 a month for 10 months, each business will receive $10,000 once during the 10 month period.  This money can be used to fund a project or place a down payment on something that will increase profit and benefit of the community. Or, the same group of 10 could commit to 20 months and take the ‘hand’ every 2 months at $20,000.  These sums of money can be targeted towards growing profitable solutions like: property ownership, community development programs, and expanding good business.

*Stay tuned for the registration link for the workshop ‘The Collective Power of Susu’ Feb 28, 2013 at Pan African Connection.

Shout out to all the local business owners! Keep ya head up! And sharpen your sword.  The strength of a network of independent businesses is evidenced in its collective works.

“If you want to go quickly, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.

Three:

When I think of big business like ProLine or even bigger like BET or smaller like the local Dallas radio station KKDA and the idea of these powerful resources being sold off, it saddens my heart. I know, it’s a money thang, right?  But, what about the legacy part?  That’s a lot of hard work to capture a specific community to then sell it outside of that community.  Do we know our value?  On just a money level, the collective Black buying power is almost 1 trillion! For real! Read here.  There is a major misappropriation of funds if the Black buying power is that of Canada, yet African Americans rank as the nation’s poor? Read about income levels & poverty rates here. S.O.S.Can we steer some of that wealth into saving ourselves?  And when we gather the wealth into a pot, can there be a commitment to not sell the pot away, never to be seen again.  What kind of return on investment is that? What if we re-socialize the value of cultural identity? To Do: Develop business long term strategic plans should include:1) succession plans and 2) internship and apprenticeship programs as a key integral part of the business model. Continue to teach and grow in cultural awareness. Know your enemy, know yourself.

The wise build bridges, the foolish build dams

Launching A Launch Pad

Greetings! Welcome to SusuEco blog post!

WHO ARE WE?

I am Tisha Crear and I will be posting about the journey of launching projects through the Cultural Business Incubator & Co-op (CBI).  CBI is a community development platform to collectively cultivate business solutions that address economic disparity and poor quality of life in low to mid income neighborhoods.  The mission of CBI is to launch and support socially responsible business hubs in low to mid income neighborhoods that promote community development through local ownership and cooperative economics.

I’m talking building better business in the hood baby!

HOOD BUSINESS AND HEALTH

If we wonder where the jobs are, there is plenty of work to be done in our neighborhoods.  When one reads: “low to mid income neighborhood” What images come to mind? What types of businesses do you think of?  The corner store, liquor store, gas station combo? or the check cashing, pawn shop, dollar store, car wash model? or the beauty supply, chicken chain, tobacco shop, club/bar cluster?

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are some good businesses in our neighborhoods and i’m not knocking the Ma and Paw’s.  However, the current condition of business and access to quality is lacking tremendously. And there is plenty of suffering because of it…

Look at the woes that come with the businesses listed above. Many of our neighborhoods are considered food deserts (Check this food desert locator) meaning there is a shortage of access to fresh food.  That’s not good. One does not need a study to understand the relationship between fresh food access  and diet-related diseases  like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Many can just look at our family members or the child eating hot chips from the local store for breakfast.  And, not only our physical health but, our fiscal health? The ‘Pay Day Loan’ and ‘Title Loan’ option is a money trap!  We would do much better forming susu circles and practicing ujamaa or cooperative economics.  (Thus, the subtitle for this blog susu, ujamaa and nem.  I will post more on these old African systems of collectively building wealth.)

IN THE SPIRIT OF OUR ANCESTORS

So i know we can create better businesses in our neighborhoods.  I know that these businesses can be quality.  I know that if we owned more of our neighborhood businesses then we could knock a dent in a few severe issues like employment and access to healthy options. The idea is not at all new.   And it is true that there have been systematic events set in place to derail the path to economic participation and stability for the Black and African community

read about Black Wall Street

In a period spanning fewer than 12 hours, a once thriving 36-black business district in northern Tulsa lay smoldering-A model community destroyed, and a major Africa-American economic movement resoundingly defused. 

PRINCIPLE AND PRACTICE

Here, we will discuss how the Cultural Business Incubator and Co-op will test America in this era of Obama and green thinking and social entrepreneurship. History tells us that there are surely obstacles waiting.  With that being said, there is no choice other than to practice

Kuumba: Do all that we can, in the way that we can, to leave it better than we found it. 

Looking forward to sharing this journey with you!

– Tea