Ed Boyd, entrepreneur and inclusive innovation leader, describes his transformation from a supporter to an advocate of Forward Cities and what Forward Cities means to him and his work in Durham.
I have literally spent my entire life as an entrepreneur and volunteer attempting to positively affect change in urban minority communities. Through sports, mentoring, teaching, college visits/tours, collaborating with municipalities, school systems, private businesses, the Boys Scouts of America, YoungLife, national motorcycle cycle clubs, etc. You name it; I’ve tried to work with them to help alleviate the burdens that adversely affect minority communities and populations. I have always understood the value of collaboration in this work. All of the businesses I own financially give to these efforts as well and I constantly challenge our employees to think about innovative ways to address the inequities. When I said
over a year ago that Forward Cities "on paper" was EXACTLY what I believed Durham needed, I was doing so to bring attention to the effort and to help rally those locally who have been working in the same manner as me for over a couple decades now.
Throughout the entire Forward Cities process, I have met soooooooooooooooo many like-minded individuals and similarly oriented organizations. That alone is a huge benefit. After a while in this work, you begin to feel like you've exhausted all your energies and told your story to all within your reach. Forward Cities has changed that. It's re-energized our efforts. It's allowed us to collaborate across cities, and allowed us to see the issues from different perspectives and see how the solutions have been and are being addressed from differing perspectives. I am known to hop-on a plane and invite myself to a conference and strategically target people and companies to discuss our work in hopes that: 1) they can lend their support, and 2) they would care.
The two Forward Cities convenings I attended, in Durham and Cleveland, as well as the one on one peer learning and networking opportunities I had at the New Orleans Entrepreneurship Week (NOEW
), also thanks to Forward Cities, were the first times I didn't have to spend part of my conversation EXPLAINING THE PROBLEM!!! See, as far as I know, in this work there are no professional organizations where one can find regional and national support. If I was an attorney, I could join the American Bar Association and be privy to a litany of aid, human capital and strategic resources to help me prosper in whatever field of law I participated in. When your work and your calling is helping people through entrepreneurship and education, too often you get lumped-in with a gang of non-profits who (for lack of being founded on entrepreneurship or on for-profit principles) don't have the capacity to meet goals of increasing minority-led ventures or whose tactics don't work.
During the Cleveland convening, I heard on many occasions that people want to know what's next for Forward Cities. First, I want to say that if Forward Cities convenes, engages or initiates ANY similarly based initiatives - I WANT IN! Secondly, I'm an entrepreneur at heart and I'll be far from waiting for "what's next." I plan to connect with the people I met through Forward Cities from Cleveland, Detroit and New Orleans to see what I can learn from them and to explore how we can work together. I am so thankful to Forward Cities for allowing me to participate in this national learning collaborative. I love being part of the solution and Forward Cites is a great way to do just that.
*Ed Boyd is the managing partner of iNvictus Office Center, a co-working community space highly regarded as the HUB of minority entrepreneurship. Recently, iNvictus was selected by the Duke Center for Documentary Studies to be featured in its Annual Summer Intensive Film Study Program due to its work in the community. This year’s theme is focused on East Durham and features participants of iNvictus' Forward Outreach program. Please watch the video below to hear local entrepreneurs share how iNvictus supports them and helps strengthen their businesses and grow as minority entrepreneurs.
You Can Do It! from Center for Documentary Studies on Vimeo.