Build a Center, Heal a Community
Just over 1 year 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?
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.
And we’re going to fund it by the end of 2016.
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: $250,000
We have identified several potential locations for the project and reached out to landowners who have given us options to purchase the property, specifically open spaces that can give youth a change of scenery and environment. Our immediate goal is $250 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 Spring of 2017. 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 2016.
This morning I stayed at home a little longer than usual. One of my daughters had a field trip and my wife was chaperoning, so I stole a little extra morning time before she had to walk down to the school to catch the bus. We were having some light chatter, talking schedules, and I was about to make me a cup of coffee.
As I was running water in the sink, I scrolled open the window blinds and looked out into the backyard. I saw a group of teenagers walking around the rear of my adjacent neighbor’s home. It was just before 9 am, which is precisely what made it noticeable. These kids should be in school.
My first instinct was to run outside and shout, “Hey! What y’all doing!” That’s what Mr. Duckett would have done on my street back in old South Nashville. Mr. Duckett was a neighbor who you never saw because he sat on a porch that was obscured by bushes and a massive tree—but he saw everything, and wasn’t afraid to call out bad behavior.
I stopped myself, though, and we both went for our cell phones. Returning to the window, there was no sign of them. Instinctively, I left the house, got my wife into the van, and took my phone deep into the back yard. At one corner, my neighbor has a small storage shed that obscures some of the view of the house. I decided to use that same shed to mask my approach. As I was creeping closer to the shed, someone in the group of teens popped off a couple of firecrackers and broke some glass. I held my ground until the noise subsided, leaning around the shed in time to catch them coming and going from a garage area. They were hastily loading armloads of items into a car that was backed into the driveway, running. These kids weren’t playing pranks.
This was a robbery in progress.
Crouching down, I made it back to the back door, slipped inside, and called the emergency line. Apparently a few neighbors were doing the same. Within 10 minutes, the school was put on lockdown and the field trip canceled. Policemen were walking all over, the helicopters were circling, and the majority of the group was cornered, in their stolen vehicle, a few houses up from me—on my street.
As details began to emerge for the rest of the day, the story took shape: these were some troubled teens who had stolen a car from an adjacent county; they had targeted the house at random, and seeking an entry point, shot out some windows with one of a couple of rifles that were recovered from the vehicle. As I watched the policemen plot the trajectory of the bullets fired into the house from my rear deck, it hit me—those weren’t firecrackers I heard, and the shooter was standing directly on the other side of the shed I was behind.
I’m glad I opted out of the Mr. Duckett strategy.
In times like these, I gain resolve from knowing that we are close to creating a space where we can catch kids like these before they become criminals--and heal them.
Now, more than ever before, I stand resolved to complete this project. By supporting Infinity Center, you are morphing with me into the modern day Mr. Duckett, only instead of shouting “Hey, what y’all doing” from behind an obscured porch, we’ll be standing on a hill, shouting, “Hey, here’s something for you to do!”
Helplessness grows with inaction. This is why this project is so important—it’s neighbors helping neighbors do the neighborly thing. I refuse to fear our youth. I refuse to turn my back on them. I refuse to give up on them. I refuse to say “Not In My Back Yard,” because just this morning, the results of people fearing young people, turning their backs on them, and giving up on them years ago played out—in my ACTUAL backyard.
It’s time to take this to the finish line my multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, diversified socio-economic level neighbors of the world! At this very second, I’m $6,050 away from at $50 thousand dollar match that will allow us to pick up a shovel and start raising these walls.
Nashville needs Infinity Center in its backyard.
Now let’s dig deep and make some miracles happen!
Today, I was humbled to have been profiled in The Tennessean for the activist work I've been involved with over the years. In case you didn't catch it yet, I'm including a link below.
I am grateful to have lived long enough to have transitioned from a skinny 22 year old idealistic kid who was convinced that people could unite for Change, into a (height/weight proportionate) 49 year old idealistic man who remains convinced of the same. In 1990, people sent up food in buckets to assist the dreamers; in 2017, people click links and share their resources.
The power of togetherness remains the same.
That's it. I just wanted to say thank you, from the dreamers out there, who maintain idealism because people like you make it real. I'm not going to slow down at all. We are too close to the light at the end of the tunnel. Have an awesome weekend! My heart beats with yours...
Here's the link. It will be in the print edition tomorrow:
Pocket change for some, life savings for others.
Life's blood for Infinity Center--that's what we have left to raise to reach our matching goal of $150k. I'm excited, too.
Have you heard that Marvin Sapp song, "Never woulda made it/ Never coulda made it without you?" YouTube it. You'll like it. Trust me.
As I wrap up a few days and several hundreds of dollars of territory covered toward our goal, I wanted to pause to say thanks for all you are doing to be a part. We've come a long way, yeah? Now in Nashville people are talking about what Infinity can do to be innovative. I met today with a major media veteran who wants to start a writing program with us to teach kids how to tell their stories; last week I sat down with an amazing visual artist who wants to put murals inside the building that young people help paint.
These are exciting times. We're only $7,495 away from being able to start building. You know me, I'm asking my construction engineers can I swing sledgehammers for free--I like and need to get my hands dirty!
As we approach Friday, would you take a look at what you could pour in and make a contribution? If not, call that deep pocketed friend and say, "Hey, check out this link, and trust me, you'll be a miracle maker, just like me."
Happy Thursday, and thanks for everything. We're doing this. Majorly. Remember our mantra:
Click. Donate. Share.
I love you to bursting, and there's nothing you can do about it!
Yes, I know you may have it at your home, but we learned not to take it for granted at the center. When we mortgaged the property last August, we were told by the seller that we were tapped into the city sewer. Later, we would discover that this wasn't the case at all. The building had been connected to an old septic tank, and it was broken.
Thanks to you, however, that has changed.
After months of Infinity working to clear its zoning Special Exception (which we were granted unanimously) , and weeks of sorting through the permitting process, the sewer line is now smothered and covered (but definitely not scattered!). We have working undersides, and this is only the beginning. We are on the way to our goal of opening by late Spring.
But I need you and your friends to take the next step.
Our sewer line drained some resources (okay, I couldn't resist the double entendre), so we need a big push to get over our next hump.
Would you pause to make a donation to help? Any amount counts, and a share with a few friends can double the money we need.
I thank you, personally, for what you have done to this point. This has been a miracle in action and it will continue to grow. I send out pics and updates so that you can see where your support goes and what we make happen with it.
Let's go, troops--we can do this! At $150k we get a $50k boost that can allow us to start slinging the hammers!
Thank you as always for your time and support.