From February to March 2018, IHB hosted an 8-week collective learning process called Communities for Change (C4C). The objective of this program was to connect leaders of community-led, community-owned neighborhood development initiatives to resources and skills they need to realize their visions of stable housing and strong neighborhoods. To arrive at this objective, Impact Hub and members of the C4C Planning Committee invited people with diverse skills and perspectives to create new connections centered around a shared vision of stable, thriving neighborhoods and advancing the work of grassroots leaders.
This learning cohort included dynamic Baltimore changemakers such as Brendan Schreiber and Candace Chance. While Brendan Schreiber serves as the President and Founder of Schreiber Brothers Development Inc — a start-up that takes a community-focused approach by grounding initiatives in feedback from neighborhood residents — Candace Chance co-leads the Baltimore Intergenerational Initiative for Trauma and Youth (B-CIITY) to allocate federal dollars to community-led initiatives for trauma and youth in Druid Heights, Penn North and Sandtown. Together, these individuals harness a valuable wealth of knowledge that marries the technical expertise of developers to the real, lived experience that long-term residents bring to the table.
At the end of C4C, one group formed around a multi-faceted prototype for regenerative neighborhoods and has begun a housing development initiative in Penn North with the values of community-ownership and leadership at its core. This initiative led by Schreiber Brothers leverages the unique skills of several C4C participants, including architects, neighborhood leaders, community-based facilitators, community organizers, and housing experts. Brendan gained a deeper sense of community through his involvement in C4C. Speaking on his experience, he says
“I came to a realization that there is a mutually supportive network that can not only take my vision to reality, but jumpstart it.”
For the Impact Hub team, C4C demonstrates the infinite value behind convening stakeholders around collective systems thinking, knowledge sharing, and idea creation in generating new collaborations and tangible solutions rooted in newly established trust and understanding across diverse ideologies. Although this article focuses on Baltimore’s C4C experience in addressing community-led housing and community development, similar efforts on local issues have been introduced in conjunction with Impact Hub Boulder, Budapest, Harare, Seattle, and Shanghai. A collaboration among the Impact Hub network that truly is locally-rooted and globally-connected.