[Editor: Meetup groups shut down all of the time. That’s not newsworthy. What’s worth your time is reading about why the Portland 1 Million Cups Meetup is shutting down. And then decide what we can do to prevent this from happening again. The following was sent to the group by lead organizer, Dayna Reed. Reposted with permission.]
It is with great disappointment that I turn in my mug as 1 Million Cups PDX organizer. This forum, which held great promise to unite founders and entrepreneurs with vulnerable discussion about the challenges and rewards of building viable businesses from creative vision, sadly never transformed into that greatness.
It was our expectation that 1MC would work to normalize and support diverse ideas and methods of building business, but our primarily white male audience has continually tried to force minority-owned businesses and their owners into the boxes of the typical, white male startup ecosystem. For our community, which authentically and intentionally engages a group that is primarily women and BIPOC, this is profoundly problematic. During my tenure, I witnessed microagreesstions, mansplaining, unwelcome advice hidden in the form of questions, blatant racism and white fragility at sessions where a founder of color was featured.
All of the possibility, potential, and good is useless if we cannot invite women and people of color to participate with assurance of equal treatment.
I share responsibility for allowing 1MC to continue in this fragile dysfunction under my roof. I should have clearly stated and enforced basic standards required for equitable and safe exchanges of ideas and support. I failed to hold our community accountable to those standards that were never appropriately identified.
I deeply apologize to all participants who presented, or were witness to a presentation, where they were made to feel less than or asked to prove themselves when they ought to have been lifted up in support. I greatly regret that people were hurt and unprotected when invited to my table. It is unacceptable for anyone to feel this way in my HAUS.
While trying to adhere to a program formatted by someone else from somewhere else, we let those incomplete, pre-formatted values prevail. We lost sight of the real value and that is to support, encourage and lift each other up. Rather than attempt to salvage and recommit, I am choosing to shut down and reimagine. If someone wishes to step in and rebuild this community somewhere else, I have a box of tumbler mugs, a banner and a coffee maker to pass on. We will store them until the first of March, and then donate the materials if they are still unclaimed at that time.
The openHAUS community, will absolutely continue to show up and support the do-ers and the dreamers of Portland and our world, and it will absolutely be in an inclusive, safe, and supportive format. This has been a difficult learning experience for us, but beneficial. We hope the same is true for 1 Million Cups, as well.
Dayna Reed is co-owner of openHAUS coworking and greenHAUS gallery + boutique with her wife and business partner Cole Reed. In 2004 she graduated from Willamette University and came back to Oregon in 2015 in order to raise her family in a place where same sex parenting rights are protected. Her background and passion support her roles of building foundations, encouragement and resources for artists, entrepreneurs and small business owners to thrive.