2020 had no chill; no mercy on us individually and collectively. It seemed to play a game of one-up-manship all year long (whatever you can do, I can do better but in a “hold-up, that ain’t right kind-of-way”) and challenged us in every way possible.
To me, the hardest part was witnessing our loved ones fighting isolation, loss of life, stress, Covid, job concerns, cabin fever, disappointment, frustration, relationship challenges, and much more.
Simply, 2020 HuMbLeD us all and forced us to rediscover solidarity as human beings.
Ironically, solidarity sounds great and all but it is an uncomfortable process requiring us to remove our facade, to be vulnerable, to empathize, to self-reflect and at times, to sacrifice for those we do not even know. Simply, it forced us to think of each other.
So yes, 2020 also humbled CoBiz in its first year after a great Grand Opening with MC Hammer in November of 2019. All that hard work and now we don’t even know if we can open our doors.
But for me, we were given free will to decide how we will respond and in a time of need, we needed to be more, do more, and ultimately, find a way to be a part of the solution to the challenges we all experienced. From Coming Out Stronger, membership vouchers, Sunset Meditation, Yoga in the Park, Grocery Giveaways, and much more, I appreciate the efforts of my staff and the various partners who helped us share information, resources, experiences. Like everyone else, we had our own personal challenges but we did our best.
As we continue to redress systemic injustices and as things start to ‘improve’ again, it is important that we all move in solidarity because the real work works for the good of the whole, not self.
Whether in a pandemic or not, we must not glorify community engagement as something that we do now; instead, each person who resides or works in a community contributes to the wellness of their community everyday. For some reason, it is a foreign concept but since antiquity, all communities understood that this was the way. Our ancestral heritage demands this.
Community engagement is simply the process of looking out for your fellow brethren and sistren within your community. In your family, success requires everyone to chip in. Community engagement is finding a way to be an asset or resource to your community. If not, shut up and don’t complain.
So yeah, in times of hardship, we all can get tunnel vision and think only of our hardship but as I mentioned above, if we move as a village, we find gems and opportunities around us to collectively endure, survive and bounce back.
Unfortunately, in underserved communities where resources appear limited, we are challenged to move as a village and so, we do not look out for each other. Hell, we fail to see that our ingenuity combined with the resources around us provide us with the means to help our community. We hope our work reinforce the simple truth that there is alway a way to add value to your community, even if you do not have all the means — if you have breath, health, and creativity, it can be done.
In 2021, our goal is the same as it was in 2020 — be a springboard for those moving in their purpose. As a business, our internal goal is to move closer to being a self-sustainable enterprise so CoBiz can serve the needs of entrepreneurs, professionals, and students here Richmond and the surrounding communities for generations. Our success requires a team effort that includes my staff, our strategic partner, ambassadors, and community advocates.
Without all of these parts, none of this is possible.