Saturday, December 29, 2012




Discipline that is word that came to me as I sat staring at the flame reflecting on, UJIMA-COOPERATIVE ECONOMICS. This principle requires a level of discipline that we do not hold on to long enough.

Every year I buy a Black/African theme calendar for my niece and nephew at A Nubian Notion Inc. Nubian Notion is a family owned Black business in the heart of Roxbury. I love this time of the year in the store. I get my Christmas cards and lovely African centered gifts. I bought my first Kwanzaa book and stand at A Nubian Notion Inc.

The store has a story. It is a community story a family story. They should be bigger but economic times and we as a community not spending enough time or money there, they have had to downsize.

That happens to our stores and businesses a lot. Other cultures go out of their way to buy from each other. We on the other hand are critical and not trusting with our own people.

When we have events I always think, this is a good one, it will be packed. But most dismiss cultural events/gatherings as too heavy. As the principle says, the stronger our community organizations, stores and businesses, the more we profit together as a community. Profit monetary yes,  but profit with a mindset that we can take care of each other, even better.

Today I want to highlight two people very dear to me who wear many hats in my life and I feel have shared Ujima-Cooperative Economics in a loving, natural way with the community.

Gwendolyn McCoy or “Gigi” is a dear friend. She is a strong voice in the development of Encuentro Diaspora Afro. Gigi has known me since undergrad. When we reconnected, she shared that she had a flower arrangement  business. Since then, in keeping with the Encuentro Diaspora Afro tradition, she does a flower arrangement for our altar. They are beautiful familia because she does it with love and care for the community. Please visit Gigi’s site and next year on Valentine’s Day when you are thinking about buying a unique, lovely arrangement, remember her name. You can visit this website, Makes Scents Floral Design, to see some of her work.

The next person to highlight is my Baba, friend, mentor, Tony Van der Meer. Tony had an idea to make Black/African centered spiritual candles. We heard about it, next minute we saw him buy all the tools etc. he needed to make this happen. Then finally we saw the final product. Each candle carries a spiritual meaning with a scent. When you burn them, the flame, the scent and the meaning behind them take over your space and your thoughts. That is exactly what Baba intended to happen. This is a way for us to ground ourselves while we profit as a community. Visit Soul Vibe Candles at

These two members of the Encuentro Diaspora Afro family inspire us to follow through with our passion and talent. I know so many people who do so much at home that should be shared in the community but worry if there will be support.

We need to get to a place that as long as it is in the community and owned by us, we should automatically support it. If we can get to that place, then we will have more spaces that not only speak to our hearts but also our minds and we can help those who create these spaces to profit and build.

As you go about your day today, stop and visit Gigi’s and Tony’s sight and begin planning your order. Then when you go about your Saturday errands, stop at a community store and buy something, anything and introduce yourself to the person at the store. It is a wonderful feeling to enter your community store and they call you by your name or recognize you, it feels like home and home is where I would rather put my money.

In light,


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