If you’ve been anywhere near the Portland startup community, you likely know what it’s like to start something from nothing, either through your own experience or via someone you know. You understand finding inspiration and running with it — often without a plan. And you get that even starting with the most simple concept is the key — the first important step — to begin actually changing the world.
Social movements are no different. They start very simply. Often with the effort of an individual or two. They aren’t built with plans and strategy. They’re fueled by passion and a desire to change the status quo. They are, in and of themselves, leaderless. And grassroots.
So it should come as little surprise that, when you combine all of those startuppy and messy things into a local startup social movement — inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement — that would resonate with me. And I sincerely hope, startup type that you are, that it resonates with you, too.
That’s the beauty of it.
And that is why, inspired by both the history of grassroots efforts that have changed our communities for the better and this most recent ethical battle on the topic of Black Lives Matter, we are moved to propose an alternative approach to the prevailing diversity, equity, inclusion, implementation, and accountability in companies and organizations that call Oregon, home.
We are proposing a new paradigm. One unconstrained by business, market, or focus. One seeking and empowering the voices of the individuals who are standing up and committing to do the work. Not the companies. Not the leaders. Not the marketing departments. The people.
That’s right. This isn’t a top down, executive administered strategy. This isn’t managed by a board. This isn’t influenced by venture capitalists. This is a movement based on you as an individual. And efforts — habits, really — that you can adopt to help move the needle in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion in our community.
And it starts with a very simple step: Follow one new Black person on social media, once a week. That’s it. That’s the first step. But you can level up from there.
As Stephen told Malia Spencer at the Portland Business Journal (no pay wall, by the way):
It’s designed to build trust, said Green, adding that it’s hard for people to trust organizations with the big issues when they can’t take the small steps for inclusion.…
“When you are on the phone with the Black engineer who moved away from Portland because his company talked a good game but when he was in the weeds they never listened to him or centered his experience, we lost that person,” Green said. “We have to bring those voices to the surface. Being silent and being nice makes you just as bad as the dude with the confederate flag….”
Here’s how he described it on OPB’s Think Out Loud:Listen to “Black Business Leader Reflects On Barriers In Portland” on Spreaker.
Sound like something you might be willing to participate in? Please take a moment to read Stephen’s letter to individuals like you in the Portland business community. And, if his message resonates with you, please consider joining me and the nearly 300 other people in our community who have already committed to doing the work.
For more information, visit Do. Do more. Do better.
[Full disclosure: I helped Stephen launch this project. But I would be committed to doing the work, regardless.]