Finish Building a Center To Heal a Community
Just over 3 years ago, I crowd-funded a village of Micro-Homes to house the Homeless in Nashville, TN . People doubted that it could be done, but with the help of an amazing group of thinkers and funders from all over the world, Infinity Village was funded, built, and dedicated—all in the span of 7 weeks.
You heard me right. 7 weeks. No government funds, no bureaucracy; no red tape; just a vision backed by everyday people like you. As I promised on my previous GoFundMe page, I want to do something bigger, better, and bolder, and for that, I need to ask you a soul-searching question that I need you to answer to yourself with honesty:
Have you ever felt powerless to change the world around you?
Do you remember what it was like when you were trying to escape a toxic relationship, break a cycle of violence, or move away from a past that haunted and paralyzed you with doubt and fear? Maybe you recall when you first got your start in the workplace and people doubted your abilities, squeezed you into a box of their own image of you, and made a mockery of your dreams.
What saved you? Do you remember?
I’m willing to bet it had something to do with you beginning to believe in yourself by employing the tools you got from your parents, elders, mentors, and community to break the shackles of limitation and contribute your unique voice to the world. That’s how it should work. That's how it happened to me, growing up working poor in old South Nashville. Those tools saved me from the streets.
But what if you grew up without someone to give you those tools? Would you still be you? Can you imagine an entire community of people who are facing the same challenges you did, but without the tools to change their reality?
Welcome to the question facing young people in one of the fasting growing cities in the United States: Nashville, Tennessee.
Welcome to a community that needs your empathy—and your support.
THE NEED FOR AN "IT CITY"
Nashville is a growing city, booming in population at a rate of over 80 people per day. Contrast that with the historic city of Chicago, which grew by 80 in the last year. Most experts agree that our city is an “It” city, but that depends on who you talk to, and what part of town they live in. If you discuss our city’s recent growth boon with residents outside of the downtown corridor, specifically North Nashville (Jefferson Street), Bordeaux, and Trinity Lane, you hear a different narrative. How are the public schools? What is the business climate like for entrepreneurs? What can be done to stem the bullying and violence among young people? Why are teenagers shooting one another? What would make a kid casually take the life of another, on a college campus, over a dice game?
Why are young people expressing themselves through violence?
The answers to these questions don’t require more studies, dissertations, or summits, because the answer is clear: young people and families in impoverished areas don’t have a place to be equipped with the tools they need to overcome life’s challenges in innovative, empowering, holistic ways.
Enter The Infinity Center...
You and I are going to build a first-of-its kind, independent, grassroots, crowd-funded Community Center Outreach, in Nashville, where nothing even remotely like it exists.
We're funding it all independently. Each one, reach one.
Because of the current efforts of contributors, we closed on the actual building at the end of August, 2016! Here is a pic of the 4,300 square foot, former residence at 641 W. Nocturne Drive....
We not only closed on the building, but we went the extra mile to secure our zoning exceptions and get architectural support from amazing professionals who have designed some of the most innovative and functional spaces in Nashville.
Now that you know I'm not pulling your leg, and Infinity Fellowship has taken a huge leap in securing the building, I want you to take a deep breath and allow yourself to dream out loud with me...
HELP ME FINISH THE INFINITY CENTER. TODAY.
Infinity Center will be a holistic community space geared toward youth and families in Nashville, beyond Sundays. Our initial outreach programming will focus on unique, holistic offerings that will be free (and sliding scale) and accessible to residents and visitors. We envision the kinds of activities you can readily find in upscale neighborhoods like Brentwood, Green Hills, or Belle Meade—only at the crossroads of the inner city and several middle-class neighborhoods.
We’re not talking about basketball and pool tables here.
We’re talking about life transforming tools that ignite self-love and the ability to dream beyond geographic confines.
Can you imagine teens taking a meditative yoga class after a tough day at school that teaches them how to center their minds and think clearly? How about Ballet, Modern, and African Dance or Brazilian Martial arts, teaching discipline to young people who might otherwise act on their emotions and get caught up in the wave of youth violence that has hit Nashville from the streets to the college campuses lately? Wouldn’t it be fabulous for families to see a Broadway-level professional theatrical production instead of a fight in the street? What about a community dialogue on social constructs like race, gender, and class that is designed to help us come together?
How about the transformation of young people, headed down the path of dealing illicit drugs, into the next generation of leaders in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics via coding classes taught by some of Nashville’s visionary young tech professionals, Vanderbilt PhD students, and award-winning performing artists?
This isn’t unrealistic. It is all quite possible, and the time is now for this vision to manifest.
My previous Youth Performing Arts Academy, a program we are reviving at The Infinity Center. We'll teach kids how to act out on stage instead of a street corner. 100% of our kids graduated high school.
The Infinity Center will provide several services. A few of the initial offerings include:
· Community Education
· Yoga and Meditation
· Math Team
· Coding Classes
· Food Pantry
· Performing Arts Academy
· Interfaith Initiatives and Volunteerism
· Diet, Health, and Wellness
· Plays, Musical Performances, and Special Events
THE GOAL WE NEED TO MEET: $200,000
Our immediate goal is $200 THOUSAND DOLLARS, which will go towards the purchase and renovation of a property to meet the needs of the center, as well as launch initial programming in the first quarter of 2019. All funds collected here will go towards the Infinity Center building project.
Contributions of ANY AMOUNT are needed and welcome, and every contribution is FULLY TAX DEDUCTIBLE UNDER THE LAW.
You and I now have an opportunity to create a space for the next great world-changers to be born and nurtured.
Now that you've gotten to know me, I can only humbly hope that I have demonstrated that I do not enjoy pouring hours of time and energy into just discussing problems--I was called into this world to be a problem solver. The youth and families of this city mean the world to me. This time around, I can't leave my wife and five kids for 45 days. They need me at home to give them the immediate tools they need from me.
I've slept on rooftops, camped in grassy lots, and sat on street corners in lawn chairs to make change in this world. I'm determined to be the change, and I'm inviting you to join me and let's make this vision real. You know the drill:
CLICK. DONATE. SHARE.
I'll be sending you regular milestone updates soon, and maybe even running into you in the streets of Nashville.
Make sure you give me a big hug and high five, okay? If i'm too sweaty, just honk and wave.
Let's make it real now,
jeff obafemi carr
Tax Deductible Donations may be mailed to:
Infinity Fellowship Interfaith Gathering
P.O. Box 17334
Nashville, TN 37217
About Infinity Fellowship Interfaith Gathering
Infinity Fellowship is a not-for-profit (501 (c)(3) interfaith gathering, with the mission of tying together people from all faith traditions to provide growth, development, and healing for people and communities. In just four years, IF has partnered with established organizations to serve at food banks, homeless programs, and community education. Our internationally recognized Infinity Village Initiative resulted in the building of Nashville’s first Tiny House Community. A crowd-funded project, Rev. jeff obafemi carr’s 45-day stay inside a 60 square foot micro-home raised over 60 thousand dollars via GoFundMe that built 6 homes that were donated to the residents of the former Tent City at The Sanctuary in August of 2015. Infinity Center will serve youth and families in the northeast sector of Nashville, where there are little to no available institutions of its kind.
The kids are so excited I thought we’d have to sedate them!
Have a great weekend, Everyone!
On this past Monday, June 3rd, I’m happy to report that the Youth Performing Arts Academy got going in style. THANK YOU for your contributions that helped us start the ball rolling for a much needed outreach.
We’ve got amazing teachers, a crew of arts hungry kids, and a rising sense of pride coming out of Northeast Nashville. We have been going at it everyday, from 8 am to 5 pm, and we’ve poured into our kids joyfully.
The kids, ages 7-14, are being instructed in Writing, Acting, Dance, Music, and Visual Arts. We’ve also planted a nice sized community garden, and been visited by guest speakers in the arts and industry. The light in these kids’ eyes has made this long journey worthwhile.
Our AC in this building has broken down a couple of times, and we’ve patched things together (the unit is...elderly, bless its heart); we’re getting more kids every day as the word gets out, and technically, we can’t afford to take on many who can’t pay, but we’re taking them anyway.
This is what we do.
We act first; then trust the support will come.
We got a call from Channel 5, so if you’re in front of your TV today at 6 pm, tune in to hear about the great things that are happening at The Infinity Center. I’m speaking the exposure will help us help more kids and families. Speak it with me.
There is no greater gift than serving our young people, and I thank you for helping us to help out those who are in need. If you find it in your heart to make another kind donation, we surely could put it to good use. This building is BUZZING!!! The sight of a crew of kids who have a safe place to grow and learn in is overwhelming. I’ll send you an invite to our end-of-program Extravaganza so you may see for yourselves.
Even if you have given all you can, simply SHARING this update with a few of your friends, and asking them to join you in donating, would be HUGE right about now. If we meet this Campaign’s Goal, we can add up to 20 more kids that otherwise might be just sitting on their hands somewhere. Believe me, I’ll go find them!
If you have paper towels/snacks/toiletries, hedges, garden equipment, audio-visual or recording equipment—we’ll take those items,too! Just give us a call to schedule a drop off at (615) 730-9399.
Break time is over; I’m back to afternoon work. We’ll see you soon, and thanks again for your support!
Bless us again if you can. I’ll send major updates along the way! hey
jeff obafemi carr
this is a brief High Five. YOU gave us the facility North Nashville needed, the only one of it's kind. we've been doing goodie carts, spaghetti dinners, workshops, and teacher support for schools in the area, and now (drum roll), we're ready to bring in the kids!!
our goal is to have up to 40 kids on site this summer for the Infinity Center Youth Performing Arts Academy. we've locked in the schedule and a roster of teachers that include instructors in Dance, Theatre, Visual Arts, Creative Writing, and Vocal Music--all working pros from the Nashville Ballet, to TPAC and the Metro Arts Commission. this is a pic of one of our Arts Academy classes we held previously at The Amun Ra Theatre years ago.
to quote my old barber, "We ain't playin.'"
i salute you. i tip my hat to you. i triple High-Five you, and i invite you to my latest quest:
i want to provide scholarships for the kids this summer.
so, here's the link to the new GoFundMe, which just went live a few minutes ago. our goal for today is to simply hit $1,000, and we already have collected $240 in just over an hour:
whether it's tiny houses, or centers to heal communities, you know that each tax deductible donation (no matter how great or small), goes directly into serving the people who need it the most.
thanks again for establishing this vision. now let's make it a joyful legacy. i know it's joyful, because Kenetha didn't get angry at me for posting this pic with our middle daughter shining outward from her mid-section. she's a great sport, but probably because ALL of the kids in this pic graduated safely from High School. :-)
i hope to see many of you on the next journey, as we Send a child from The Streets to The Stage:
jeff obafemi carr
The Infinity Center Youth Performing Arts Academy 2019
That’s a song that could be sung by any young person in our city at any given time, but particularly the ones who don’t have advocates and parents and partners who are invested in making them successful. Our kids are here; they are crying out; and yes, they are still…holding on.
Just days ago, there was a tragic event that took place in West Nashville. Kyle Yorlets, a Belmont graduate and musician, was robbed and shot to death outside of his home. The event made national news, largely because it was a crime committed by five kids ranging in age from 12 to 16. It’s a tragedy all the way around. Some people online immediately started calling the kids “beasts” and “murderers,” and suggested they be locked up for the rest of their lives. No one looks behind the veil and asks the real question: How did it come to this?
Kyle should be walking among us, making more music; these kids should be somewhere being equipped with tools that will make them successful adults. Instead, we have a young musician who was robbed of the chance to walk in his purpose with a long life, and five impulsive kids whose lives may just have been thrown away.
We all—myself included—have had the thought, “If someone could have just gotten to these kids in time…” There is no winning in this scenario, and we cannot undo the timeline.
What we can do, is provide the ounce of Prevention that circumvents the pound of Cure.
I’m proud to announce to you that we’ve completed the building, and will be opening in the next four to six weeks. I know, right? What a journey we’ve been on.
In appreciation, I’m posting some pics of our freshly painted space so that you can see the work you have contributed to. You’ll find a large gathering space, a recording/podcasting studio, a multi-purpose room, two classrooms, a community room with a kitchen, and accessible restrooms. We’ve got the space for both Youth Engagement and Community Education. The bones are in place, and I can’t say THANK YOU enough.
We’ve got a wish list now, and we want to knock it out in the next 7 DAYS. As of this week, someone already donated to cover the cost of permanent stackable seating, bookshelves, and a rolling AV cart—and we’ve already purchased them. We need to purchase multi-media monitors, gardening supplies, recording studio equipment, smart boards, yoga mats, art supplies, activity tables, video production equipment, and other items.
If we can raise just $10,000 dollars in the next several days, we can be fully functional by our deadline.
So now that it’s 2019, I’ll make the ask again:
Will you help us today by pausing right now to make a contribution of any amount to get us to the finish line?
Even if it’s what you’ll spend on coffee next week, that will help tremendously.
I hope you enjoy the pics you see today. You should feel the pride I feel, because I know how far we’ve come together, and now, the reward for us all “still holding on” will be letting go and flying, because we now have a powerful safety net called The Infinity Center.
Thank you for helping make this vision a reality.
jeff obafemi carr, Founder
The Infinity Center
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