Ten years ago, the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) launched its Real Communities Partnership (RCP) initiative to equip community members at the local, grassroots level to work together toward common goals to improve their community.
Now being led by Global Ubuntu, RCP is transitioning and expanding its reach by becoming the Welcoming Community Movement Fund (WCMF). This change will allow it to address the urgent issues many individuals with and without disabilities are now facing in society and across the state of Georgia.
The fund’s goal is to build and sustain a movement where the culture shifts from one of hate, unfairness and dehumanization to one of love and belonging. It supports seven local initiatives throughout the state of Georgia, including:
- Peacebuilders Camp (Americus, GA) provides transformative learning experiences in summer camp and post-camp settings that empower a diverse community of youth to work toward peace, justice and human rights.
- Mixed Greens (Savannah, GA) is implementing health equity and community conversation programs to improve the lives of Black and Brown people and individuals with disabilities within their community. The initiative aims to empower participants to take control of their own wellness.
- Inspire Positivity (LaGrange, GA) is creating a program that will include welcoming community dialogues that specifically address the social issues and concerns of persons of color with disabilities, as well as the creation of public gatherings that will encourage better community involvement and support of persons with disabilities in disenfranchised communities in LaGrange and Troup County.
- New Neighbors Network (Comer, GA) recently purchased The Perch and is planning to develop the building into a gathering space for those who have historically been excluded and sidelined in their community.
- Compassionate Atlanta (Atlanta, GA) will create a steering committee with individuals who are representative of different identities of marginalization, including Black people and those with disabilities, especially in low-income communities. This group will work together to discuss issues that are most obstructive in moving towards a more equitable society.
- Georgia Research Environment Economic Network (Savannah, GA) will focus on documenting the social justice concerns of marginalized groups in the Savannah community and establish a Community Action Team to come up with measurable solutions.
- Filling the Gaps (Hephzibah, GA) will offer individuals within local communities a safe place to have authentic, real dialogue around topics that are timely and relevant to their current societal issues within a safe, judgment-free environment.
In addition to the seven initiatives, three coaching organizations will work alongside Global Ubuntu to support the Welcoming Community Movement. Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation (Americus, GA), The SEMANCO Team (Smyrna, GA) and Taproot (Atlanta, GA) will provide expertise on think tanks, inclusion, sustainability, restorative justice and healing.
The coaches will have the capacity to help the local initiatives research and organize around a diverse range of policy issues; to form multi-disciplinary collaborations in their communities; and to provide resources and share the latest innovations in community organizing, advocacy and community-building practices for sustainable change.
Those involved will empower and stand beside leading agents to provide the necessary support in making the dream of the Welcoming Community Movement a reality. Global Ubuntu believes dialogue and advocacy are poised to shift culture and attitudes so that everyone can regard others with empathy and compassion, and so people feel welcome and develop a sense of belonging.
“We are excited about this movement, the dialogue, the education and change that is bringing restorative healing into all the work this initiative is doing. What’s ahead now is to bring action into communities to all while including local government, churches, doctors, etc.,” explained Sumaya Karimi, the project organizing director for RCP and WCMF. Karimi is also founder and director of Global Ubuntu.
According to Malaika Geuka Wells, community organizing coordinator for Global Ubuntu, the next step for WCMF “is to support community minded people across Georgia to be involved in creating deliberate and intentional welcoming spaces, so all feel seen and valued.”
For more information about the Welcoming Communities Movement and its fund, please visit Global Ubuntu’s website. Additional details about the Real Communities Partnership initiative through GCDD can be accessed here.