Build a Center, Heal a Community
Just over 2 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 was 2017 the year that Youth Violence doubled?
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, an Outreach of Infinity Fellowship
You and I are going to build a first-of-its kind, independent, grassroots, crowd-funded Community Center, 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, historic home at 641 W. Nocturne Drive....
So, 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 BUILD 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.
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 by the Fall of 2018. 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,
Rev. jeff obafemi carr
Tax Deductible Donations may be mailed to:
Infinity Fellowship Interfaith Gathering
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. Founded just over a year ago in a small, sublet actors’ studio by Rev. jeff obafemi carr , Infinity has grown from 4 people with a unique vision of unity into a coalition of almost 80 people, made up of all ethnicities, backgrounds, ages, and income levels. In just one year, 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.
hello there good friend. it's been a while, and i'm back to give you some pretty substantial updates. first things first: yes, it's true: i just got off the campaign trail running for Mayor of my hometown, Nashville, TN. it was an underfunded, 22-day campaign that grew out of the disarray caused in Nashville from the resignation of our 7th Mayor over some now infamous issue that put Nashville in the national spotlight over the last several months.
i'm a guy that doesn't mix politics with doing good in the world (although in my heart of heart i feel it's a shame that many times those things aren't in alignment where and when they should be). i'm humbled that this project has brought together people across lines of political party, race, gender, orientation, and even geographical origin and city. i was quiet in this space the last few weeks because of the divisiveness Nashville is experiencing; divisiveness i didn't want to invite into the mashup mix of magic-makers who are birthing the Infinity Center.
but what of the last few months?
well take a look and see for yourself. we've been actively working. since the beginning of the year, here's what we've been able to get checked off the list so far:
√ Architectural Drawings created and approved by the team, for an auditorium space; fellowship hall, three classrooms, multi-purpose room, demonstration kitchen, meditation room, and new parking on the property.
√ Rehabilitation funding applied for and secured via The Housing Fund, in a partnership to bring Youth Activities and Community Education to Northeast Nashville.
√ Site work, professional survey and topographical survey for storm runoff plans.
√ Creation of phase 1 parking, ADA ramp, new stairs and entryways, and rear observation deck.
√ New roof, repaired eves and overhangs, and new gutters and downspouts (no more leaks!).
all of this was made possible from your efforts. there have been delays for approvals and inspections--and we are still in the process of engineering work that must be approved for demo work, but we are making remarkable progress.
we've received in-kind donations of filing systems, a copy machine, a coming supply of books, teaching supplies, a projector and few theatrical lighting fixtures. we are on our way to a grand opening (which, of course, you will receive an invite to).
construction delays are always a challenge. i know because i've done this kind of thing before, when my team and i built the first Performing ARTs Academy home at the Amun Ra Theatre on Clifton Avenue over ten years ago. i like to move quickly and efficiently. it's one of the reasons i ran for Mayor--i wanted to bring the can-do attitude into the top seat in Nashville. i had precious little time and an even smaller amount of money--but something amazing happened:
people started believing in Nashville again. i ran on what you all know me for: Youth Violence intervention, Affordable Housing, Education; and the conversations pushed the needle back toward what Nashville needs. i was the last of 13 to enter the race, and placed 6th--alongside some well established political figures. not too shabby, i'd say.
now that the dust has cleared, two things have happened: Nashville has duly elected leadership for the next year and a half, and Infinity Center is on the cusp of leading the way toward progress, with purpose, in our hometown.
we can't stop now, though.
so take a deep breath, look at that total we're seeking, and make a donation today to get us to our finishing point. the remaining $31,900 of our posted $200,000 goal will outfit us with monitors, technology, seating, tables, maintenance equipment--you name it, we've got a wish list for it.
we've come a mighty long way. now let's finish it, together. look to see me in my overalls and fishing hats soon--we've got work to do, and i appreciate you enabling me to do it so joyfully.
i didn't score the top seat in the city, and people have been push/pull/dragging me to consider it again one day, but wherever you stand in the complicated field of politics, know one thing:
i'll gladly take on the de facto title of Mayor of Infinity Center--as long as you all remain, collectively, my Chiefs of Staff.
jeff obafemi carr
it's the most wonderful time of the year--the end of the year. we've reached a milestone with Infinity Center and will begin construction in the next several days. as winter descends upon Nashville, it is one of ascent rather than discontent.
this is a moment of gratitude and resolution. we are grateful to look to the ticker and see more green than gray; we're grateful for meeting after meeting, speech after speech, strategy after strategy, and deal after deal that have led us to this great moment for Infinity Center; a moment of great resolution:
we're here, here to stay, and here to heal. to all of you who have clicked, donated, and shared, i hope you have enjoyed being along for this wild ride. it gets even better.
i don't have a huge appeal to make to you right now. if you'd like to bless us with a year end gift, by now you know how to "click/donate/share." this update is a spiritual, mental, and emotional Chest bump from us to you; a double hi-five to say to all of you what i say when i pass a mirror on nights when i'm physically worn out:
"THIS TEAM GETS IT DONE!! WE ROCK"
YOU are the WE, by the way, and i'm ever thankful for you. it took us a minute, but as the song goes, we "started from the bottom, now we're here."
i speak the most empowering revelations you could ever have via reflection on 2017. i speak a beginning to 2018 that opens you up to new levels of accomplishment, love, and purpose.
in a few short days, i'll be posting construction updates so i can keep you involved as the facility takes shape. we are proving what happens when we put our resources together--we can't stop now.
Happy Pre-New Year!
we are on the eve of #GivingTuesday, a global effort for holiday and year-end giving, and we couldn't be in a more significant space. it's our time!
we are so appreciative of the support you have given this vision over the last several months. because of new partners (TBA) in the nonprofit community, we are literally at the threshold of a constructive and powerful moment in the manifestation of this inspired outreach!
as you've noticed, we've adjusted our goal. we stand, on the eve of #GivingTuesday, just under $10,000 away from securing the funds we need for rehabbing THE ENTIRE FACILITY!!
since we began this initiative, you have chosen to accept the challenge of providing independent funding to an inventive, nurturing, and determined approach to improving the lives of young people and their families who are at risk of experiencing the now record tide of Youth Violence that has gripped our city (Just this afternoon, a teenager's life was taken by another on the public bus system my own son rides in Nashville).
so, as i joyfully and patiently burn this midnight oil on the grounds of the future INFINITY CENTER, i want you to join me in releasing any and all doubt that we will be uplifting, educating, and inspiring people sooner than later. why?
because we're going to raise this $10,000 on #GivingTuesday. we're going to do it cheerfully, patiently, positively, intuitively, and with the spirit of freedom and generosity.
YOU amaze people. did you know that? please don't make the mistake of thinking it's me or any of the wonderful visionary people who have approached me in the last several months to choose to volunteer for the programs of Infinity Center. we wouldn't be here without you and your vision, consciousness, optimism, and trust.
i salute you all, and invite your involvement in getting us to the home stretch, the finish line, the perceived "end" that really is a new beginning. spread the word for #GivingTuesday, on all your social media and email outlets, and let's have an excellent and epic day of significant movement!
#GivingTuesday #InfinityCenter #YearEndDonations #100PercentTaxDeductible #Generosity #Service
Rev. jeff obafemi carr
Last night, #InfinityCenter did something bold and non-traditional: we hosted one of our inaugural events, a program we call #TabooTalks. This program will provide a Community Conversation around Taboo Topics designed to produce effective short and long term responses to existing projects.
Have you any idea how many women in your life have survived sexual harassment, sexual assault, and/or some kind of sexual trauma--all going back to childhood?
You'd be surprised. Or perhaps, you'd act surprised depending on your awareness. If we're going to provide Prevention for our young people, it starts with hearing what needs to be corrected from those who have been effected.
I want to say THANK YOU to the bold women who joined the conversation last night, filled out evaluations, and helped us be in a position to help people. I also have to thank YOU, because YOU BUILT THIS SAFE AND NON-JUDGMENTAL SPACE.
I'm overjoyed this morning. We kept identities private, but after last night's event, so many people kept saying, "I'm so grateful that a place like this exists." It affirmed this journey we've been on for close to two years now.
Sure I would like to be in a fully renovated space, but we couldn't wait. Nashville can't afford to wait. So I want to thank the Infinity Fellowship for moving in to the large room and covering the bills while we build by any means necessary. We're going to keep this momentum going, people, so spread the word:
Last night was amazing--and just the beginning. We need a comprehensive approach to SEXUAL Violence as well. It's as bad as murder, any way you see it, and so many of our young girls face it on a regular basis.
Not here. Not if we have anything to say and do about it--and we've got plenty.
Below is a great story on last night's #MeTooNashville Event. Check it out. Your support made this possible. We could have used double the space and parking--that's why I still need YOU and your friends circles!
Watch the story, budget up that tax deductible, year end money, and make a donation today and encourage your people to do the same. Imagine what is possible with all the needed tools.
Thanks again for your support my friend. Infinity Center is in the waters....
Love and Light,
jeff obafemi carr
WATCH THE STORY: