Flashback Spring Forward: Susu Partners & Neighborhood Space


Spring is almost here and Susu has BIG NEWS blooming for this season!  A great start in the neighborhood thus far!

Susu has been working with so many great community partners this year and the fruits of the labor have been beautifully rewarding!  Here’s a look back at a short list of the partnerships we are thankful for:

Flashback 1:  This time last year Susu Incubator completed a season of PopUp Markets with a host of incredible local creative and cultural businesses.  We activated vacant spaces throughout Oak Cliff with our unique market style of hand crafted and brand vendors in cultural retail, education and literacy, health/wellness and vegan foods. This popup market model was an effort to prove the economic viability of our ‘low income’ neighborhood.

2015 marked the beginning of partnerships that pushed us forward toward the goal of property ownership and developing a healthy neighborhood business hub.  In January 2015, Susu joined the Small Scale Developers group led by Dallas developer Monte Anderson.  March 2015, Susu vendors gave a presentation to the developers group and answered the question: What would you do with 1000 SF?

The small business owners shared with the developers group their storefront dreams to house jewelry, apparel, home decor and culinary goods.  The vendors talked about the value of space to sell and to teach their craft to others, especially the youth.

Flashback 2: In late 2014, Susu participated in the event Dallas Faces Race (DFR), sponsored in part by the Embrey Family Foundation (EFF) as a forum to address racial equity.  This monumental event introduced Susu to the value of a business coach exemplified through a series of workshops led by Rha Goddess of Move of The Crowd  .  And, most importantly, the DFR sparked a dialogue between Susu and the Embrey Family Foundation about developing space in Susu’s target area of South Oak Cliff to launch a healthy business hub with an initial project focused on food and food security.


This partnership with the Embrey Family Foundation provided Susu with financial support and  technical assistance partnerships with The Real Estate Council Community Fund to access alternate means to traditional loans and capital to fund the initial development project.



Spring Forward: One of Susu’s key partnerships is working with our neighborhood association,’Vermont Village’, named by one of the residents and shared dreamer Mathis Perkins.   We have joined the forces of several of the neighborhood associations to form a ‘super neighborhood association’ called Cedar Haven to work in Vermont Village.  So far, we have planned a 4-part series of neighborhood events for the last Saturday of each month.  We started in January 2016 with a tree planting project in which close to 30 oak trees went in the ground down Vermont Avenue.  (Big shout out to Ryan Behring of Grow South Vista, the neighborhood leaders Mathis Perkins, Lester Houston, Jeff and Audrie Mills, Jan Taylor, Tisha Crear and Wana Smith)

Our second event in February brought over 100 volunteers and the Mayor to the neighborhood for a clean-up and to start the mural project.

We are on the move!  Join us this Saturday March 26 for more neighborhood clean-up and Part 2 of the mural.  And, stay tuned for our big spring market and resource event on April 30, 2016!


Susu is infinitely thankful to the local vendors that we have had the pleasure to popup market with!  Susu is thankful to the neighborhood and community partners for the working collaborations that are building our community stronger! Thank you EFF and TREC Community Fund!


It takes a village.




Q: Susu, What Do You Do?

Susu, what do you do?



Susu TRAINS and ASSISTS local entrepreneurs.

vclogoVendor Market Certification is a business development course for creative and cultural entrepreneurs to launch product and skill into a market vendor business.

Young Entrepreneur Program is a business skill and social entrepreneur project based training and apprenticeship for youth to launch new business.

Susu PARTNERS with local entrepreneurs and community to practice cooperative economics.

Cooperative Vending– Incubator members negotiate vending opportunities as a collective unit

New Business Project Management Services to launch new business projects

Susu Economics workshops, Susu Banker services, Micro-Investment Opportunities

Ongoing Vendor Markets

It is our goal to BUILD GOOD and STRONG business in our neighborhoods (and global neighborhoods like it) as a vital piece of infrastructure in securing the health of our communities.

Strong Business = Strong Community

We are on a mission to ride the wave of re-urbanization by investing in the rich experience of the local entrepreneur to add remedy to displacement, food insecurity, low income and bad fashion!  We mean it! We are on a mission to contribute to the global movement to preserve the cultural history of our neighborhoods and nurture business that in turn nurtures the community.

Our target area is Oak Cliff Texas, a low-to-mid income area in the Dallas.  It is our goal to open healthy business hubs in our neighborhoods to meet the demands for SPACE  :

  • For Local entrepreneurs to develop, produce and sell their goods and services
  • For community to access fresh foods, safe business hubs/public space, and quality goods
  • to build a welcome bridge between global creative and cultural communities and local artisans

Contact Susu Cultural Business Incubator for more information, workshops, vendor markets, and other opportunities: susuVendor@gmail.com

Check SUSU FB Page for more info!

Thank you for your support.  Feel free to leave a comment.  We LOVE hearing from you.

Divine Design Market Day

MarketSketckDesignGod is the greatest designer”  is the resounding message in my heart at the close of the Tenth Street Historic District Vendor Certification class’s first pop-up market on April 26, 2014.  The market was the first in a series of neighborhood markets with the bcWorkshop’s Activating Vacancy project.  Creating this community-vendor market experience both, exceeded expectations and highlighted the true depth and need for such a development.  While reviewing the event details with a mentor-friend, the Market Day’s issues and challenges were observed and documented in true Project Management ‘closing’ style . Of the 5 project phases, the “closing phase” of a project is one of the most valuable and, often, overlooked steps of a project. This final documentation and reflection on our sweat equity from the workshop period and the market day’s lessons exemplify that we, as a community, have all the good ingredients for healthy progress: a rich tradition and historic foundation, an intensely pressing and current needs list, and bright ideas with varied levels of skills for future development.

Again, I return to the phrase, “God is the greatest designer.”  Building this event from the desires and passions of this dedicated group of producers and artists has been humbling and awesome. Their willingness to reveal their business strengths and weaknesses in workshop has created a foothold on development. Each vendor has, in turn, fed into the culture of knowing that the best made plans have to have a “go with the flow” clause.  My father, Mr. William Crear, said it best when he said, “Put your mind on the goal.  Your plans will have plans.”  So true…

Ultimately, putting effort and energy towards a goal will, at minimum, give you really good stories to tell. So here are some of the highlights of the Vendor Certification class and the first pop-up market experience.

Market Day Prep and Vendor Training

  • 30 local businesses registered for the Vendor Certification class
  • Graduating participants completed a minimum of 20+ hours of business development and mobile vending training in preparation for neighborhood pop-up markets this spring and summer.
  • Every Saturday and Monday for the month of March, vendors attended workshop and community study in core Tenth Street landmarks. (Lundy Recreation Center, Greater El Bethel Baptist Church, Show Hill and Benny’s ‘Island in the Hood 2′).
  • Our Saturday sessions were usually from 12 – 4 and Mondays 5:30 – 8:30 PM.
  • The local businesses ranged in levels from start-ups to established businesses.
  • Work sessions were complimented by guest presentations (cantoinette studios and YW Financial Empowerment)

During the training period, it was a true honor to witness the small yet consistent strides the business participants made each week.  Participants tackled the action check list by registering their business ‘assumed name’ (dba), getting business cards, setting up PayPal accounts and Square card reader accounts, signing up for the YW Financial Empowerment workshops and enrolling in IDA’s, designing and ordering vending signage, and building inventory . Yes!

In addition, we reviewed business topics such as basic accounting, product pricing, quality, customer care, and vendor style.

The Vendor class is a part of the Show Hill Biz team granted by the bcWorkshop Activating Vacancy Project.  The team members are Vendor Certification Lead & Teacher, Tisha Crear; Market & Booth Design Lead, Benny Walker; Documentation and Marketing Lead, Tammy Gomez; and Show Hill Biz Project Manager, Iv Amenti.

The Plan’s Plan


Originally, as a part of the bcWorkshop Activating Vacancy grant, April 26 was the date set for the Show Hill Biz Market.  Show Hill is a prime piece of land that sits vacant on 8th Street, up the block from Townview Magnet Center in Oak Cliff.  Show Hill was once a thriving business hub for the community.  The structures have since been removed and the land sits naked and readied for the expanding highway’s loop to cast shadow on the green field and bury into memory its once vital role.  It’s a pretty significant piece of property in the narrative of the historic neighborhood’s business value. ShowHill MarketSkecth Show Hill is the perfect place to have a Pop-Up Neighborhood Market.  Picture it: The hilltop lined with local vendors’ hand-made goods, encircling a performance stage poised in the center of the lot, with downtown Dallas beaming as the backdrop and the fast curve of 8th Street as the front porch, serenading out to the Tenth Street community. Uh, Yes!

…or, uh, no… Permission was not acquired for the April date.  However, the team opted to keep the date and adjust the Show Hill Biz Market with a pop-up mini-market in conjunction with National Rebuilding Day planned in the neighborhood.  Rebuilding America Dallas was setting up behind Greater El Bethel Baptist Church as the jump off point for their massive volunteer event. Perfect, a market collaboration event in the Greater El Bethel parking lot was in the works.


Rebuilding America hosted over 200 volunteers charged with renovating and improving properties in Tenth Street. Residents received new roofs, landscaping, painting and other structural repairs.  We thought this day of community service was a perfect complement to the neighborhood market. Even though Show Hill stands as the ideal business tribute location, the tide had turned our market plans to the back doors of the Greater El Bethel Church.  Greater El Bethel is also a significant location in Dallas history because it was built by Knights Of Pythias BuildingWilliam Sydney Pittman, the same architect of the Knights of Pythias Temple in Deep
Ellum among over a dozen Texas buildings.  He was a practicing Black architect and the son-in-law of Booker T. Washington.  And so the links and legacy of the Freedman’s Towns in Dallas extends itself onward…

Also, the Greater El Bethel parking lot was home to another Activating Vacancy project, ‘The Ark on Noah Street’ by Christopher Blay.  During the Vendor Certification Saturday class sessions, Lundy Recreation Center would close at 2pm and class would often reconvene at the Ark in the church parking lot.  It was a good excuse to take the short walk through the neighborhood into the cool pre-spring afternoons and literally ‘activate the vacancy’.  IMG_00000016

So, Greater El Bethel was the new location for our market day goal!  A dozen of the class vendors signed up and a handful of guest vendors signed on.   Iv Amenti, Benny Walker and I met with a Deacon from Greater El Bethel and liaison from Rebuilding America and we agreed upon a site plan and shared flow for the day. It went a lil something like this: MarketSketch Rebuild would set up in the parking lot by the Ark with registration tables, port-a-potties and trash bends; the Market would set up in the grassy area under a tree behind the church; Benny would erect an ‘L’ shaped market area made from wood fencing flanked with a series of tall wooden arch ‘fans’. (Think tall wooden palm frond sticks.); Culinary Vendors from class would make breakfast and assist the church in preparing lunch for the 200 + Rebuilding volunteers.  Breakfast served at 7 AM; Vendor set-up at 9 AM ; Market opens at 11 AM.  Perfect plan!

The Final 48 Hours

I tucked myself into bed the Thursday night before the market, knowing this would be my last full night of sleep until Saturday night.  My to-do list and schedule was marked by the hour.  Friday morning plans went something like: pick up items from Sam’s, pick up printing from Staples, go to work, check on Benny’s market building progress and then make final preparations for the next day.  Typical hectic pre-event work flow day.

I started the day shopping for supplies with community powerhouse entrepreneur, Patricia Williams, affectionately called ‘Ms. Pat’ and owner of American Care Academy located off of I-35 in Tenth Street.  She opened her kitchen for the volunteer breakfast prep and offered prayers to the success of the businesses, as well as, success for a healthy neighborhood in general.  As we were loading the supplies from Sam’s, my phone rings with the message that I need to get down to the site.  Benny is there attempting to begin the market set-up and there is a problem.  When I arrive, the set of port-a-potties and a huge dumpster are not in the planned space in the huge parking lot. They are instead nestled under the little tree area behind the church that was designated for the market. (?) After some re-communication and a community member gathering the entities together for prayer, we all made peace with the changes and decided a new site plan: Instead of building the market with Benny’s design on the grassy area, the market would set up with tables in the parking lot by the ark and the event registration. Rebuilding would allow us to use some of their tables, chairs, and tents.  And, the atmosphere would feel more unified because we would all share the parking lot.  Great!

Market Day MarketDayFly

Food prep for breakfast began at 2 AM.  Vendor Certification class member and culinary artist Kendall Ferguson and I were to make 250 breakfast tacos.  We decided to make potato/v. chorizo and potato/spinach/mushroom. We met up at the American Care Academy kitchen at 5:30 AM; served breakfast at 7 AM with the help of Iv Amenti. We served breakfast tacos, sweet bread cookies, fresh fruit, coffee, orange juice and cucumber water.  They gobbled it up!

The Vendors began arriving at 9 AM.  By 10 AM, an associate pastor from the church informed me that we may not be able to have the market in the church parking lot AT ALL.  Why?  He would get back to me in 10 minutes… So, I took a lil break and went to my house ( I live maybe 3 mins drive from the church), washed breakfast prep layer off and got in gear for the market.  Because the market was going to happen.  That was the goal.  The phone rang. We worked it out.  The market opened according to schedule on April 26, 2014.

MarketSketchArkThe vendors ended up circling the Ark, facing out to the community and it could not have been designed any better than that!

On the sunshine side of the Ark, Vendor Certification participants Jamila and Sarah Mendez, Kathy Aziz, Lynn Saahir, Stacey Johnson, Denise Smith-Ladd, Quineka Ragsdale and LaMetra Martin. IMG_7139 In the shade, guest vendors and long-time friends/business associates Chandra Calloway of Mamamade (and vocalist with Mel Waiters), and Emotion Brown of Black Legend Heirloom.  They were joined by local printing (since the 80’s) G3 Printing and Mrs. Linda Michello with her hand-painted items and art works from my favorite participant, the 84 year old artist, Rev Johnson.  In addition, the market had surprise vendors in local celeb Shuckey Duckey and the rising star Michael Benjamin THE Kombucha Mane.  And one last surprise was afforded when Isis of Naturally Isis and the Natural Hair Parade showed up with her Pop-up Beauty bar and worked some beautiful quick braid styles as we transitioned to close the market!  Check out the pictures below!

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photos by bcWorkshop, Iv amenti, William Crear, Lynn Saahir and Michael Benjamin

YOU ARE INVITED: The next Pop up MARKET is SATURDAY MAY 31, 2014 12 Noon behind Townview Magnet Center at Benny’s Island.  Come and tour Historic Tenth Street and shop local hand made goods.

For more details or for vendor booth info please email susuVendor@gmail.com.

What is Susu Economics ?


<< 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)

Where You At?

Sometimes I drive through downtown Dallas, cut across that new bridge into Oak Cliff and say, “Now look at you Dallas”.  I remember in the early 80’s downtown Dallas didn’t have a population after 5 pm.  Now, there’s a loft high-rise or renovated warehouse at every turn.  Deep Ellum is figuring out its next face.  Uptown has a trolley and every restaurant and shop under the sun.  The Arts District is overflowing with museums and performance spaces.  Oak Cliff has Bishop Arts District and mucho grande plans to be the hippest blend this side of town.  North Dallas boasts a million-dollar shopping mall. And, all the surrounding suburbs are dotted with some sort of Super store, chain store retail and restaurant pattern as well as various immigrant community business hubs.  So, I drive up under these trees into south Oak Cliff and ask, “where you at?”

Lemme Tell You Some Dallas History: A Hub-byebye

Position your mind to consider a time post Juneteenth 1865 in Dallas, Texas, and you are a child of those to walk off a violent plantation into the next hateful scenes of US History, toting none but God and your unstompable desire to just have some peace and a place to be.   Imagine the energy in the air in the midst of being shifted from slavery to Freedman’s Towns to Wards and pressing ever forward to build thriving self-sufficient communities of grocery stores, dress shops, churches, and schools.  Hover your memory above a forming nation, as the century turned, moving from agriculture to industry, from slavery to wage labor, from the legalized human bondage to legalized neglect.

This was the era of racial segregation (not legally ended until 1968) meaning being zoned to certain areas of land to live.  I imagine the collective energy it took, with lack of access to resources and civil support, to develop major communities like Deep Ellum, Freedmans and ‘North Dallas’.  Stop and read the plaque in front of the Knights of Pythias on Elm, built in 1916, by Sidney Pittman the architect genius son-in-law of Booker T. Washington.

This neighborhood had Black doctors and dentists, musicians and social clubs and this building was the first in Dallas built by Blacks, for Blacks, with Black money.  (read more about it here )  The  most marginalized people, with the least, cornered into so called slums, were giving birth music greats and the imprint of the name Deep Ellum as the residents would pronounce the ‘m’ in Elm.

Ask Dallas historian Donald Payton why there are only remnants of these neighborhoods as seen under and along the edges of downtown Central Expressway by Woodall Rodgers that crushed and scattered the businesses, homes and people and pushed Black neighborhoods into South Dallas, Oak Cliff and up to Hamilton Park.  (read more here )  This expansion plan started from the 1940’s and continued into my own personal memories in the late 80’s.  I remember, watching the last of the neighborhood across from my high school, Booker T. Washington High School of the Performing & Visual Arts (Yes, say the whole name please) and St. Paul United Methodist Church, get swallowed up by Woodall Rodgers, condo apartments, lil expensive boutiques and City Place/Target.  I remember coming home from college in the early 90’s and getting on the widening Central Expressway at Hall street and looking to my right into the face of a little girl sitting on the step of her porch, nothing separating her from the highway but a chain link fence. Ask local elder who was there, Mama Mac (Mrs. Eva McMillan) about it.  They will tell you and you will be amazed! (Read a paper on Dallas Freedman Towns here ) And then, read about the parallels of the forming, dividing, gentrifying and reforming of Black neighborhoods and businesses across this country.  Then, you will probably be angry.  It’s been a vicious rode.

Owner of Pan African Connection Bandele Tyemba, may his soul rest in peace, said to me one day, “you have to keep your energy up. Energy is Power”.  I was so tired and hungry that day that it took a minute to resonate. … Energy is power…  I realized one of the most revolutionary things one can do is to stay healthy and energized.  Because what a powerful resilience, in my opinion, that even under the constant threats, and reality, of lynching picnics and burning crosses, Black people managed to build business and community.  Those are some strong shoulders to stand on.  …We are not just passing through.

So, where you  at?


I have always been one to participate in wherever I live or visit.  I like to explore the community and talk to folks.  I have always explored the DFW metroplex.  I notice when people move to Dallas from elsewhere in the country or world, they are told not to go to South Dallas or Oak Cliff. I hope you will check out more of the history.  It seems I’m always in those ‘don’t go over there’ places.  When I was in Ghana they said, “Don’t go to Nima. They will slit your purse and take your money”.  I had breakfast in Nima almost every morning and was at total peace. (Medina, you are next)

So if you wanna know “where I’m at”: I’m in ‘those places’; sipping on some tea in the garden listening to beats: keeping the energy UP.



“TO DEFINE OURSELVES, NAME OURSELVES, CREATE FOR OURSELVES AND SPEAK FOR OURSELVES”.  The principle of self-determination carries within it the assumption that we have both the right and responsibility to exist as a people and make our own unique contribution to the forward flow of human history.