it's a relationship


Growing and Sustaining Community Year-Over-Year

December 23, 2013

It’s been nearly two years and a day since our initial post about the success of the BMe community design. And while the five core learnings hold true, we wanted to share what sustains and grows a strong community as BMe launches into its own non-profit—a move supported by a $3.6 million investment from The Knight Foundation.

It would be easy for BMe to become about the personalities of their membership and tell a heroic story, but it rightly refuses to do so. All great movements cultivate a powerful group of leaders and members. That being said, too much focus on the leaders and the movement becomes dependent on personalities, too little focus by leaders and the movement looses direction. How does BMe navigate this dilemma?
BMe focuses its attention on the methods of the men who perform in their communities, not solely on the men themselves. Similar to the investment world, understanding why certain assets perform repeatedly generates knowledge that can be used to increase performance of other assets. Some people are excited when an asset increases in value (the hero), but everyone is excited when the entire market grows.

The philanthropic world revolves around fixers. From injustice to infrastructure, people take what’s broken and mend it. Instead, BMe is building, collecting and calling attention to actions that make the future better, richer and more vibrant for communities throughout the United States. Because Black men are already positively shaping the future, BMe’s role is to get behind them and support their work, not fix them. Operating from this orientation of abundance, rather than scarcity sets innovative methods free.

BMe is growing because members hold a vision of a community that is constantly rebuilding itself through self-reliance. It is quite possible that the future of cities like Detroit lie with BMe members who understand what it means to thrive in times good and bad. Despite Detroit, a key BMe city, having recently been approved for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, local entrepreneurs are digging-in to define how this crisis creates opportunity, delivering on the promise of the network. Many communities form organically—but to grow and sustain, a clear vision and promise need to be adopted by all members.

See the vibrancy of BMe first hand.(and thanks for the photo guys)

Growing and Sustaining Community Year-Over-Year

Robert Q. Benedict


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