The Liberated Village, made up of 19 Best Starts-funded organizations working collectively, focused on creating a movement for transformation that requires a solid network, meaning ‘building a net that works’ so that no scholars (youth) and families ‘fall through the cracks,” submitted this blog to Best Starts to highlight their collective work.
Imagine a scholar (student) and parent/caregiver walking through the community and stumbling upon a sign that says, “Welcome to the Liberated Village,” a place where scholars are equipped to heal, grow, and excel. As you continue to explore the village, you discover that you will be able to access and gain an educational experience on subjects such as economic wealth, social justice and civics, health and well-being, agriculture and outdoors, arts and music, anti-racist and community organizing, education certifications for educating Black genius, with supports from professionals like journalists, TV and film writers, actors, producers, ESPN sports commentators, Broadway actors, and choreographers; all inside the village and ready, willing and able to teach, train, mentor, and support scholars during their journey called life.
Well, that proverbial sign has led you to reality. We are excited to announce that the Liberated Village, (formerly known as trauma-informed and restorative practices), has leaped forward into its 2.0 era and awarded 19 organizations and partners uniquely positioned to serve the needs of its expanding Black and Brown scholar community. These grassroots organizations will take their educational programming into their communities and seek to educate, liberate and elevate scholars and parents/caregivers.
We are honored to welcome 19 organizations to Liberation and Healing from Systemic Racism (LHSR), also known as the Liberated Village:
1) The Breakfast Group, 2) ArtsEd Solution, 3) Bridging Cultural Gaps (BCG), 4) Faith Finance Center (Elevate Scholars), 5) Partners for Education Reform & Student Success (PERSS), 6) Restore Assemble Produce (RAP), 7) Seattle CARES Mentoring Movement, 8) Stemtac Foundation, 9) Trafton International Consulting Group, 10) Unleash the Brilliance, 11) Victorious Youth, 12) Your Pretty Perfect, 13) Let’s Dance Productions, 14) Educate to Liberate Consulting, 15) JSOL Studios, 16) Kreative Collective, 17) CS Media, 18) Praxis Institute for Early Childhood Education, and 19) The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond.
Net-That-Works Kickoff Party
In early November, the Liberated Village hosted our first Net-That-Works kickoff networking party. It was exciting to witness all the brilliance in the room; the diversity of talent, expertise, skills, services, and passions provide a unique and holistic approach to meet and exceed the expectations of our Black and Brown scholars and their parents/guardians.
During our networking party, the facilitators asked two questions to gain a collective perspective on what the core principles of the Liberated Village meant from their own perspective, more specifically, Relationships and Reliability.
In one or a few words, describe what the word “relationship” means to you?
Words like vulnerability, love, trust, shared values, mutual respect, accountability, covenant, forgiveness, harmony, commitment, Umoja (Unity in Swahili), and Ubuntu (an African philosophy that emphasizes being self through others), were added to the whiteboard. It was fascinating to see that personal descriptions of the word Relationship went beyond language differences and geographical boundaries.
In one or a few words, describe what the word “reliability” means to you?
Words like loyal, integrity, on-time, truth, prepared, finish, dependable, consistent, follow-through, doing what is right, and do yourself-work, to name a few.
As the answers began to pour in, it was like poetry in motion. This exercise demonstrated how working together on one accord produced better and more profound outcomes and insights than working in isolation or silos.
In the spirit of our discussion around the topic of collaboration, which means “The process of two or more people, entities or organizations working together to complete a task or achieve a goal,” it was emphasized that our desire as a collective was to go beyond collaboration and embrace the concept of collectivism. As an operating principle, the Liberated Village felt that collectivism would enable the organization to maximize its potential by placing the group’s desires above individualistic pursuits. Looking for ways to support each other and share our knowledge and expertise within the village, we could achieve the benefits of synergy, meaning 1 + 1 is greater than 2.
One of the most remarkable examples of collectivism was highlighted when one of the partners offered up the historical context of Black Wall Street, also known as the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. Black Wall Street was one of history’s most inspiring yet disturbing events. It was known to be one of the most affluent, successful, self-contained, and self-sustained communities of Black businesses that have ever existed, where it is estimated that dollars circulated upwards of 20 times before leaving the African American community. Black Wall Street was started by African Americans that migrated to Tulsa, pooled their resources, and built wealth to create successful businesses amid Jim Crow discrimination.
It comprised African American-owned luxury shops, restaurants, grocery stores, hotels, theaters, barbershops and salons, pool halls, nightclubs, funeral homes, and offices for doctors, lawyers, and dentists. It also had its schools, post office, bank, hospital, and jitney service. Unfortunately, it was decimated by the White Mob for the first time in history that airplanes were used to bomb and terrorize a US civilian population. Collectivism was powerful, yet evil people made it their mission to destroy it.
The Liberated Village aspires to reignite the power of collectivism by circulating its time, talent, and treasure within the community, where Black and Brown scholars are the ultimate benefactors. We strongly believe we can accomplish great things by working together, pooling our resources, and building on our strengths.
Music for the Soul
Weeks prior to our Net-That-Works party, during the grounding segment of our discussion, we were asked to add a song to our playlist, something that represents the Liberated Village and our mission. Every song that was added had special meaning, ranging from inspirational, spiritual, historical, triumphant, and some made you want to get up and dance; What’s Going On (Marvin Gaye), Revolution (Kirk Franklin), Good Job (Alicia Keys), I’ve Got The Victory (Yolanda Adams), Wake Up Everybody (Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes), Break Every Chain (Tasha Cobbs), A Change Is Gonna Come (Sam Cooke), and We Are Family (Sister Sledge) were some that made the list. Our resident DJ played this curated list of songs during our Net-That-Work meeting which kept the virtual environment alive, and the Liberated Village engaged for over 3 hours.
The Liberated Village 2.0 Launch
We are so excited to launch our educational programming in January 2023. As a strategy within being a part of Best Starts for Kids, we will aim to build a transformative education system, a school-without-walls academy, develop skills that promote healing, nurture collective power, lead with racial justice, and focus on the whole-child approach to supporting King County’s young people to grow and thrive. The Liberated Village will provide tremendous value to its Black and Brown scholars and their parents/guardians. We know this road won’t be easy, but we are up for the challenge and have no doubt that it is going to be well worth it! Through our mixed-methods community participatory research evaluation process, we will achieve and capture evidence of collective impact within the liberated village community.