Support Black Businesses:How To Preserve DC’s History in the Presence of Gentrification

There’s so much gentrification going on in major cities. Personally i believe gentrification can be a good thing, however we often lose the city’s history and culture in the presence of gentrification. Chocolate Redux is an up and coming organization that will seek to preserve DC’s history and culture in the midst of major gentrification. If you or anyone you know is interested in helping this organization in anyway  or publicizing this blog post for more people to see and help, please read below or contact myself or the brains behind this innovative organization, Maleke Glee. Contact information is below. Please read the interview I conducted with Maleke to give you a better insight at what he’s trying to achieve and how YOU can be apart of it #DC #blackbusiness
What inspired you to begin Chocolate Redux?

Chocolate Redux started off as an assignment for my Fundraising for the Arts course. We were to design a non-profit, and I decided to create an organization focused on Go-Go education. The presentation of my fictional non-profit earned an A, and prompted great feedback from my colleagues, and professors. I was encouraged to turn this fictional non-profit to a social enterprise and entrepreneurial endeavor.
The more I thought about the factors which aid in the falling presence of Go-Go music in the District I realized the various inequitable city planning which is detrimental to not only Black culture, but Black communities and their sustainability. Chocolate Redux was birthed May 2016 to educate, empower and uplift Black Washingtonians.
What’s the main objective of your project?
The objective of the organization is to produce events and programs that will protect facets of African American livelihood in the District threatened by gentrification. We will help communities become self sustained through community service, cultural sustainability, education and entrepreneurship. We are not only producing events and programs that sustain the Black Washingtonian experience, but also lobby for equitable policy, funding, and law in the District.
What are some Barriers that your finding during the beginning stages of the project and how are you planning to circumvent those barriers?
As of now I have not experienced any major barriers. Existing barriers are the minimal start up resources I have available, and the limited time I have to give this my desired attention. I foresee within the next year great community support, the establishment of profitable partnerships, and receipt of grant funds which will all provide the capital necessary for growth.
Time Management-  The founding of the organization comes at a transitional phase of my life, and life of my partners Nzingha Shaw, and Neko Ramos. We are all transitioning from undergrad to work, graduate school, and for me both. I am hesitant to claim limited time as a barrier, because I know I am settling into a new phase and simply need time to adjust.
 
What can we expect Chocolate Redux to do for the younger generation in DC?
Chocolate Redux will provide the younger generation in DC access to the rich history of the “Chocolate City” in order to instill a pride in community, and mobilize a generation empowered to become active community members not only demand equity but also have the ability to become change enablers.
Short Term- We will provide the younger generation in DC access to experience and actively create their local culture. Many of our scared cultural spaces have been redesigned for new residents who do not welcome nor care about the communities in which they are disrupting. We are looking to provide social and educational events and programs which will allow our youth to still feel “at home” although everything around them is eradicating their communities, identity and pathways for success. The Chocolate City has a rich history that many of our youth do not know, if the knowledge spreads we hope for a spread of motivation to restore our ethnic enclave.
Long Term- The four pillars of the organization are community service, cultural sustainability, education, and entrepreneurship. We plan to use these four pillars to guide our programming which is aimed at self sustainability. In the long term we plan to produce programming around home ownership, financial planning, and entrepreneurship, these will provide individuals with the tools necessary to become community leaders.
 
Who are you teaming up with to help fund and initiate this project?
 
We have no partners to help funding the organization. Our funds will come from grants, sales from events and programs, and individual giving.
 
What resources and companies are you using/could you use to help with chocolate redux?
 
Businesses that will donate in-kind by allowing us to host events with discounted or absent rental fees would be wonderful. We are not selling a product, but a service, we will rarely need physical materials. We are in the need of manpower, space, and individuals who are interested in research.
What have you done already to initiate the program? And when do you see it being implemented in the district?
 
The organization was initiated in April with our first two events. Still Crankin’  was held April 6th at Takoma Station Tavern. The event was a discussion around Go-Go sustainability, and featured diverse panel of artist, managers, journalists and historians. The evening closed with performances from T.R.E.A.L Band and BlaqDynasty. On April 10th we partnered with Path to Greatness for Wellness for Neighbors. The event brought out more than 30 volunteers who feed over 200 of our homeless neighbors in and around the Federal City Shelter.
In 2017 we are working alongside the Prince George’s County African American History Museum and Cultural Center in North Brentwood to curate events surrounding their exhibition focused on Chocolate Cities.The exhibition will be standing February through June 2017, details are forthcoming.  This is our most recent news, but will not be our next project. We will be providing events in the fall and winter months.
We are launching our online/social media presence on August 1. You can access our site from Black Blogger Chic. Stay Tuned!
Anyone interested in volunteering or working for Chocolate Redux please email: Director.ChocolateRedux@Gmail.com.
Stay Black, Stay Blessed!

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