RECAP: CONNECTING THROUGH THE ROOTS 2016Thank you to all who made this a successful inaugural event. Keep it up WNC & Asheville Community. We will see you next year!
2016 INAUGURAL AWARDS NIGHT
RECAP: CONNECTING THROUGH THE ROOTS
The 2016 CoThinkk Inaugural Event, “Connecting Through the Roots”, was a great event that blended our cultural roots and visions in such a beautiful way. On behalf of the CoThinkk family we would like to thank the community and congratulate all of the leaders in our community. A special thank you to our sponsors, particularly the Amy Mandel & Katina Rodis Fund for their commitment of a 1: 1 Match up to $5,000 to support our efforts. A special thank you to TY MO Photography for capturing the essence, vibe, and spirit of this event. #Seeditgrowitnutureit #CoThinkk
Watch It Again
CoThinkk is a giving circle that brings together community leaders who care about the economic and social well-being of communities of color in Asheville and Western North Carolina.
Read All About It!
ASHEVILLE – All the way down to the spelling of its name, the group CoThinkk is challenging the status quo in Buncombe County. Two years after organizers stared soliciting feedback on how to raise up communities of color in Western North Carolina, the public is starting to take notice.
The giving circle held its first major event, Connecting Through the Roots, Oct. 22 at the Asheville Art Museum where it issued $4,500 in grants and honored community leaders.
Its influence, however, goes beyond the 90 people in attendance and the funds distributed.
CoThinkk has become a partner of Buncombe County this year, helping to identify and map out strengths and gaps to build a stronger community.
CoThinkk is ensuring no neighborhood is left in the dark, said Lisa Eby, human resources division director for Buncombe County’s Health and Human Services.
“We need a strong network of leaders nested across neighborhoods in our community to tip our community toward greater resiliency,” she said.
The goal of the giving circle is to shift the narrative in a way that lifts up leadership in communities of color and invests in core needs, said Tracey Greene-Washington, one of the organization’s founders.
“CoThinkk is based on this premise that if you can get folks together from diverse backgrounds and experiences, you can come up with the best solutions,” she said. “It’s about maximizing our collective impact and knowledge to solve challenging social issues.”
CoThinkk’s strength comes from its autonomy and work at the grassroots level, Greene-Washington said.
The giving circle is focused on supporting education, economic opportunity and mobility, and leadership development for communities of color.
“We want to create a space where everyone feels welcome,” Greene-Washington said.
True to its word, CoThinkk uses the term LatinX to describe Hispanic culture. Unlike the masculine Latino, LatinX has no gender attached, she said.
Members also don’t like the word “minorities,” preferring communities of color. “Minorities” holds a negative connotation and doesn’t show the unique differences among groups, Greene-Washington said.
CoThinkk stands for cultivating diverse opinions to accelerate change, support creative innovation, and build valuable connections and knowledge. The double “k” means “konnectionsand knowledge”.
It’s just one example of how things can be done differently.
“When we work together we can move things very quickly,” Greene-Washington said. “We can move the needle.”
► RELATED VIDEO: Co-Thinkk Grant Candidates 2016
CoThinkk first started its work in 2014 hosting a community meeting at the Arthur R. Edington Education and Career Center. There founders asked participants how they would solve some of the social issues facing Asheville.
They asked how to raise the voices of people of color and for specific examples of work being done.
CoThinkk has been meeting monthly ever since sometimes with up to 30 people in attendance.
“CoThinkk is one of the most positive efforts addressing matters of race and equity that exists in this community,” said activist Carol Rogoff Hallstrom.
It’s lifting up young people of color and educating the community on new ways of thinking, she said. It’s collaborative, intergenerational and multilingual.
“It’s a place that practices what equity and inclusion is all about,” she said. “It’s bringing forward small, grassroots initiatives in a way that breathes life, that recognizes what developing, emerging leadership in these communities can do.”
Five grants and six awards were given out Oct. 22.
CoThinkk encouraged video applications for its first round of funding to make the process more open and accessible, and held capacity building workshops to show people how to make a competitive application.
Grant recipients also each received an inkind technical assistance package valued at $4,500, Greene-Washington said.
Tamiko Ambrose was honored with one of the 2016 CoThinkk Leadership Awards at the Oct. 22 event.
Addressing the crowd, she told a story about having been a janitor in the building several years ago.
Today she is a staff member at the Center for Participatory Change, an adjunct professor in UNC Asheville’s English department and involved in organizations like the Racial Equity Circle and Asheville Writers in the Schools and Community.
Ambrose told the crowd to keep telling their own stories and to raise the voices of those that aren’t always heard.
If people don’t tell their own story, others will tell it for them, she said.
CoThinkk is important because it is giving communities of color the space to build their leadership and voice, Ambrose said.
Often times the people in charge aren’t always the most affected by the decisions being made, she said. True community transformation will happen when a more diverse group is present. “We have to be at the table where the decisions are made,” she said.
CoThinkk has become a change-agent in the community both for people of color and the broader population, said Stephanie Swepson-Twitty, a founder of the group who also serves as president and CEO of Eagle Market Streets Development Corporation and is the current chairwoman of the YMI board.
“This small dedicated group of individuals has shifted the thinking of people of color relative to their ability to have their giving impact their own communities,” she said.
“Additionally, they have clearly been identified as thought leaders for the larger community seeking opportunities for better engagement with communities of color.”
A well-deserved congratulations and thank you to our community leaders and grant recipients!
COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP AWARDEES
Dewana Little, Asheville Greenworks and Positive Changes
Tameko Ambrose Murray, Asheville Writers in the School, Center for Participatory Change and Word on the Street
Carlos Gomez, CEO of WNC Community Health Services
Joe Greene, Hood Talks, asheville411.com, Goombay
Ami Worthen, Asheville Action, Date My City Partner, Hood Talks Partner
Dawn Chavez, Asheville Greenworks, Youth Environmental Leadership Program
2016 COTHINKK GRANT RECIPIENTS
Youth Transformed For Life (YTL)
Ballet Folclorico “Soles de Mexico”
Delia Jovel Dubon
A Big Thank You to Our Sponsors!
Asheville Art Museum – Visionary
Circle Forward – Cultivator
Self Help Credit Union – Cultivator
The Community Foundation – Cultivator
Baha’is of Asheville – Cultivator
Center for Participatory Change – Cultivator
Merrimon Florist – Cultivator
Hi-Wire Brewery – Cultivator
Bountiful Cities – Cultivator
Asheville Wine Market – Sower
French Broad Co-Op – Sower
My Daddy Taught Me That – Sower
Thank You to Individual Community Members:
Mebane Nash – Cultivator, Gordon Smith – Cultivator, Desiree Adaway – Cultivator, Gwen Wisler – Cultivator