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THE SEATTLE MEDIUM — In 2015, the United Nations adopted a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as targets for global development to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. Among these goals is a mandate to “substantially reduce the proportion of youth (aged 15 – 24) not in employment, education or training.” Unlike most SDG targets set for the year 2030, this particular target is set to be achieved by 2020.

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By Pamela J. Oakes, The Profitable Nonprofit

I run my own nonprofit consulting business. My brother runs his own real estate appraisal business. My father owned his own real estate company. One of my grandmothers ran her own hair salon. Another grandmother and grandfather owned a restaurant and my great-great grandfather was a country doctor and landlord. When it comes to entrepreneurship, you could say I was born into it.

While I have spent many (many) years in the corporate world, punching clocks, submitting timesheets, negotiating pay raises and begging for…I mean…requesting time off, there is something satisfying and extremely empowering knowing that I have the aptitude and competence to generate my own income. Sadly, entrepreneurial skills are quickly becoming a lost art.

In 2015, the United Nations adopted a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as targets for global development to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. Among these goals is a mandate to “substantially reduce the proportion of youth (aged 15 – 24) not in employment, education or training.” Unlike most SDG targets set for the year 2030, this particular target is set to be achieved by 2020.

Including a youth employment goal makes perfect sense. To quote the United Nations, “ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with strategies that build economic growth and address a range of social needs including education…and job opportunities.” The only problem I see is that in this day of corporate restructuring, layoffs, retrenchment and downsizing, people of color are usually the last ones to get hired and the first ones shown the door. Without a backup plan, unemployed youth very quickly become unemployed adults!

Entrepreneurship is a viable means to circumvent chronic unemployment in populations of color and needs to be REQUIRED learning in schools. Along with a mortarboard and a piece of paper, we should demand that our young people be “innovation ready” – meaning that they are equipped with the requisite abstract thought, problem solving, communication and collaboration skills that will enable them to invent their own careers.

Despite the billions of dollars pumped into our education system, U.S. high schools, colleges and universities are still primed to churn out employees NOT employers. Entrepreneurism can stimulate the economy by promoting economic opportunity. It can also serve as an agent of social justice and one way to dismantle the “preschool to prison pipe-line” disproportionately experienced by Black and Brown youth. Entrepreneur education benefits students from all socioeconomic backgrounds by helping them think outside-the-box, tap into their unrealized potential and nurture unconventional skills and abilities.

Taking a cue from Shirley Chisolm, the first Black woman to ever be elected to the U.S. Congress and the first woman to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, entrepreneur education teaches how to be unbought and UNBOSSED!

Pamela J. Oakes, Managing Director of The Profitable Nonprofit, is a funding consultant helping small and emerging nonprofits achieve funding sustainability. Pamela previously worked with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

This article originally appeared in The Seattle Medium.

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Activism

OCCUR & the San Francisco Foundation FAITHS Program Present: A Model Built on Faith 2022 Leadership Series

Presenter, Karl Mill, Esq., is founder of Mill Law Center, a firm providing legal support to the nonprofit and social enterprise sectors. A long-time champion of underserved communities, Mill is dedicated to promoting justice under the law. “Our firm is in the nonprofit sector because we want to devote our lives to activities that relieve suffering and promote justice” says Mill.

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Workshop 3: Building Your Legal Guardrails

May 26, 2022

As organizations and communities emerge from years of changes and transformations due to the Covid pandemic, the broader landscapes in which they function have also changed. What current and possible new legal guardrails must be in place to move forward into the new normal? OCCUR and the San Francisco Foundation FAITHS program present Building Your Legal Guardrails. This capacity training will provide nonprofit and faith-based leaders with an overview of legal topics key to understanding and exploring the rapidly changing legal landscape.

Presenter, Karl Mill, Esq., is founder of Mill Law Center, a firm providing legal support to the nonprofit and social enterprise sectors. A long-time champion of underserved communities, Mill is dedicated to promoting justice under the law. “Our firm is in the nonprofit sector because we want to devote our lives to activities that relieve suffering and promote justice” says Mill. “We focus on priority areas such as racial justice, combatting economic and educational inequality, supporting immigrants’ rights, and dismantling mass incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline. Understanding key elements of the law is critical to advancing the work of all those who work in the nonprofit arena.”

Please join us for this informative workshop!

Date/Time:
May 26, 2022, 9 a.m.-11a.m.
Location: Zoom
How to Attend: Please RSVP on our website, amodelbuiltonfaith.org
Questions: Email info@occurnow.org, or call (510) 839-2440

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Activism

COMMENTARY: “COVID-19 and White Supremacy, Creating Our New Normal”

We must rescue and refine the best of Black ways. Look at our historical grandeur. We once imagined the great Step Pyramid before there was a pyramid. How did we do that? Black people lived through over four hundred years of rabid, hostile, savage, dehumanization yet never became rabid, hostile, savage dehumanizing people. Our way, our worldview, our narrative, our normativity is what allowed us to do this. This is what we need to revisit.

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Dr. Wade Nobles
Dr. Wade Nobles

Black Mental Health pt. 2

By Tanya Dennis

With the global COVID-19 pandemic, we knew the world would never be the same. For some, COVID-19 has provided an opportunity to correct a society filled with bias, inequality, and meanness.

For Dr. Wade Nobles, long-time scholar/activist, and co-founder of the Association of Black Psychologists, “This is our time of reckoning. It is a time to redo what we have always done, sometimes under the radar, always in opposition to white supremacy. This is the time for Black people to interlock, reconnect and heal our community without European influence.”

Dr. Nobles, the Bay Area Chapter of the Association of Black Psychologists, and Oakland Frontline Healers are bringing together the best minds and calling on every sector to join them in the development of African American Wellness Hubs and an African American Healing Center in Oakland.

“Restoring wellness is to make the whole well. It is to connect everything and everyone in life affirming ways throughout the entire African world. Our way of being well and whole were well established in our past. In the past we gathered and found solutions collectively. Remember rent parties, Sunday church special offerings to send a child off to college or visiting the sick and shut in? These are our examples. In our way, personhood, familyhood, neighborhood, peoplehood, all the “hoods” are of equal importance. We can’t have a sick community and think our people will be well.”

Nobles and colleagues, after surveying and talking with Black people in Black communities across the nation, designed a detailed written plan for an African American Wellness Hub Complex. They envision a hub that is linked spiritually and psychologically, as a place where wellness and wholeness is real and ethnically authentic. Nobles said, “In many places our children are failing in school, many of our children are feeling they have no value, are being demeaned and assaulted. We need to take charge of these places. If teachers don’t love our children, they cannot ignite in them a desire to know and a passion for learning. If law enforcement doesn’t have high regard and deep respect for Black people, they will never understand that to ‘serve and protect’ means to be life affirming in what they do.”

“A big part of our new normal is to have in our thought, beliefs, and behavior the best of our wisdom, traditions and restorative practice available. This means to have in place living learning laboratories that are unapologetically devoted to our wellness, e.g., a wellness hub complex with healing centers. To have an exceptional and extraordinary place to bring people together and take them from hostile angry dis-at-ease producing places to places where we can work in harmony, create in dignity, and live to inspire life and ways of being that is affirming.”

Alameda County has stepped forward and is committed to establishing a Black Mental Health facility in partnership with the Association of Black Psychologists. The Association is grateful to Alameda County but notes four or five locations are necessary considering the amount of damage and illness that needs to be undone in the Black community.

Nobles says, “We must create a space, place and time that is guided by an African American wellness narrative that is awe-inspiring.” As an example of how important space is, he notes, “We tried to escape the blight and poverty of the inner city and move out to the suburbs, but all we did was go from inner city hostility to outer city hostility in the white enclave. At least in the inner city, our children didn’t lose their point of reference of belonging in the neighborhood or church. Healing spaces and places must be grounded in life affirming worldview and culture.”

“We must rescue and refine the best of Black ways. Look at our historical grandeur. We once imagined the great Step Pyramid before there was a pyramid. How did we do that? Black people lived through over four hundred years of rabid, hostile, savage, dehumanization yet never became rabid, hostile, savage dehumanizing people. Our way, our worldview, our narrative, our normativity is what allowed us to do this. This is what we need to revisit. We need a wellness place in our Black community where people can ‘imagine the better.’ A place where we can dismantle the ill and wrongfulness and recreate a vibrant affirming life spirit.”

Dr. Nobles says, “our new normal is the old African normal, where Black people inspired greatness just by living well and whole. Black people are a people of caring, sharing and daring. Our way was to care for our people, to share what we have, and to dare to be free. Our history records us having sacred places in nature where we would go to recreate our spirit of wellness. We need those places today and that’s why we need an African American Wellness Hub and healing centers.”

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Advice

Inside Queen Hippie Gypsy, Oakland’s First Black Woman-Owned Botanica

Located in Downtown Oakland, Lilly Ayers’ Queen Hippie Gypsy’s ground floor space sells metaphysical tools like crystals, handmade intention candles, incense, books, and herbs that can be used for metaphysical and health-aiding purposes.

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Lilly Ayers, owner of Queen Hippie Gypsy. Photo courtesy of Visit Oakland. 
Lilly Ayers, owner of Queen Hippie Gypsy. Photo courtesy of Visit Oakland. 

By Makiah Hiley

Known as “the hood alchemist,” Lilly Ayers founded and runs Oakland’s first Black woman owned crystal botanica, Queen Hippie Gypsy.

Located in Downtown Oakland, Ayers’ ground floor space sells metaphysical tools like crystals, handmade intention candles, incense, books, and herbs that can be used for metaphysical and health-aiding purposes.

Ayers gives tarot readings and hosts yoga sessions, healing circles and wellness classes in the top floor of the shop. She also has a program for youth getting started in their spiritual journey.

The storefront’s debut was in 2018 before the pandemic struck and is one of the small businesses in Oakland still standing after the mass closings of businesses due to quarantine restrictions. “There were times we were closed for months at a time,” Ayers said.

However, Ayers also described challenges on more than one level. She said that as the business fluctuated, “I realized that the rate I was going wasn’t healthy for me, so I had to re-evaluate,” she said.

She also found herself confronting the ignorance and misconceptions surrounding religion and holistic wellness within the Black community.

“People would come in and steal incense and have these ideas that spirituality is evil. It’s what we are programmed to think,” said Ayers.

Items like intention candles and herbal blends are handmade by Ayers herself, and she includes bible scriptures. She blesses the tools used as well as her store every day.

Ayers explained that certain bible scriptures can be used to bring protection and love among other intentions one would wish to manifest.

Of course, as is the case with other health supplements, it is recommended to consult a healthcare provider before using herbs for healthcare needs.

“Spirituality is what you make it. Everything around us is energy and you can’t have good without the bad,” says Ayers.

Ayers explained that she grew up in the Baptist church, but she always knew she was spiritual in different ways beyond the church.

As a child, she was always playing in her backyard, wanting to be closer to nature. After using spirituality to help her cope with her traumas, she felt called to bring love and healing to the rest of the community, thus creating Queen Hippie Gypsy.

Her advice for anyone getting into alternative forms of spirituality is as follows: listen to your intuition, your heart, and do your own research in order to know what is right for you.

“Only you and God are in control,” Ayers said in a message to the spiritual collective. “Gratitude is the attitude.”

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