Boston Ujima Project rewrites rules of local economy

Founding Event Marks Beginning of New Economic Ecosystem Based in Boston’s Black and Brown Neighborhoods

 

Boston– A new initiative, the Boston Ujima Project, aspires to build nothing short of a new, more democratic economy. Ujima is a unique project that brings together community residents, grassroots organizations, small businesses, capital providers, and advisors, seeking to create a community controlled economy in Boston.

This week, the group will kickoff Dreaming Wild, the first of its General Assemblies, in Dudley Square (September 8-9). Dreaming Wild will celebrate Ujima’s new governing body, who will democratically allocate resources to Boston’s local artists and and small businesses, and ratify Ujima’s bylaws, interim community standards, and capital fund investment terms in the next step towards building a community controlled economy in Boston’s working class communities of color.

Ujima successfully conducted a trial run for its community controlled capital loan fund last August, raising $20,000 from over 175 small lenders and investors, and allocating 0% interest loans to five Black and immigrant owned businesses through a democratic voting process.

Metropolitan Boston, per capita, is one of the five wealthiest regions on the globe. But the neighborhoods of Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan, 2 out of 5 children live in poverty. On average, white families in Boston own over 350 times the assets of Black families, while Black business owners are underrepresented by over 30%. Boston is now one of the fastest gentrifying cities in the country, pricing out families and businesses that have contributed to Boston’s cultural and economic vibrancy for generations.

Current efforts by the government to address complex problems like poverty, unemployment, and property prices are not meeting our needs. Boston’s Ujima Project is modernizing traditional economic development strategies by structuring democratic coordination through the full cycle of local value creation, consumption and exchange.

 

Event Details:

 

Friday, September 8th

6:30pm: Opening Assembly, Bolling Building, 2nd Floor

8:30pm: Social, Arts and Networking Events, Dudley Cafe

 

Saturday, September 9th

9am – 4:30pm: Founding Members Assembly, 1st Church of Roxbury, Dudley

Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/171350890075537/

Dreaming Wild Speakers:

 

Aaron Tanaka, Director, Center for Economic Democracy

Atiya Martin, Chief Resilience Officer 

Cassandria Campbell, Co-Owner, Fresh Food Generation

Darnell Johnson, Coordinator, Right to the City Boston

Deborah Frieze, Co-founder, Chair, Boston Impact Initiative

Ed Whitfield, Co-Managing Partner, Fund for Democratic Communities

Eroc Arroyo, Director of Cultural Organizing & Popular Educator, United for a Fair Economy

Glynn Lloyd, Director, Business Equity Initiative, Eastern Bank

Jessica Tang, President, Boston Teachers Union 

Kofi Callender, Smarter in the City

Lisa Owens, Executive Director, City Life Vida Urbana

Lucas Turner Owens, Fund Manager, Boston Ujima Project

Mariama White Hammond, Minister, Bethel AME Church

Mark Watson, Managing Director, Boston Impact Initiative

Nia Evans, Director, Boston Ujima Project

Noah De Amor, Co-Owner, Bowdoin Bike School

 

About the Boston Ujima Project:

 

THE BOSTON UJIMA PROJECT is organizing neighbors, workers, business owners and  investors to create a new community controlled economy in Greater Boston. We are challenging poverty and developing our communities by organizing our savings, businesses and customers to grow local wealth and meet our own needs.​

UJIMA (oo-JEE-mah) is a Swahili word, and the celebrated Kwanzaa principle for “collective work and responsibility”. Ujima inspires us to take responsibility for our communities, to see our neighbor’s problems as our own, and to build collective power to solve them together.​

The Ujima Project demonstrates new ways to invest, work, buy, own, and advocate. We are driven by a belief that another world possible, and that we can help build it today.

The Ujima Project was launched in the spring of 2015 after a year-long cross sector study group involving 40+ leaders invested in Boston’s low income communities of color. Hosted by the Center for Economic Democracy, Boston Impact Initiative and City Life / Vida Urbana, the group studied strategies for our communities to control capital, grow co-ops and land trusts, and protect locally owned companies from the “race to the bottom” economy.

 

More information about Ujima’s Ecosystem and Governing Body:

https://vimeo.com/226755271

 

More information about Ujima’s Inaugural General Assembly, Dreaming Wild: https://www.ujimaboston.com/dreaming-wild

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