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Y’all: We Need to Have a Serious Conversation (8-9-18)

Friends, We need to have a serious conversation tonight. We need to have an honest conversation tonight. And this is the place we can have those, right?

Y’all, we have built a community here at Venture Café from the ground up. And it’s a beautiful thing. It’s a place where everyone comes together. It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you look like or how much money you make or where you live or who you love or how long you went to school or how you worship or anything else. All are welcome. It’s a place where trust is built and relationships are formed and good things happen. It’s a place where people feel safe to share their hopes and dreams as well as their setbacks and failures. This is the place we’ve made.

We – all of us in the Venture Café community – are doing vital, life-changing work. Work that is helping create new jobs, new possibilities, new companies and new hope for our local economy and local families. And believe me when I tell you that there’s a lot of work to do. That’s where our focus is and our heart is. Thank you for being part of the change. It will take all of us to keep pushing.

But here’s the thing. The progress we’re making as a community sometimes makes us a false target for those who are more interested in their own agendas and hungry egos and personal benefit than the greater good. They nip at our heels, they spread lies, they threaten the beautiful community we’ve built here. And as tempting as it is to spend energy on shutting them down, we can’t allow ourselves to be distracted by the yapping because we must focus on the work.

As a community, this is when we RISE. When we stand together and celebrate what we’ve built here – this amazing place filled with the most amazing people – and we RISE. And we keep our eyes facing forward and our focus on what’s important. When we let our actions speak and we do what’s right despite it being hard. When we protect what we’ve gained, when we defend what we’ve all carefully built and lovingly tended and when we show our true strength together.

Maybe you’ve had this experience too. And if you haven’t yet, you probably will as an innovator and entrepreneur. When you’re faced with the temptation to spend your precious energy on security guard issues to fight off the energy vampires, keep your attention and energy on pushing forward instead. Keep your energy at the higher level where it’s put to better use. It’s a struggle to do this. I’m struggling with it right now. And I’m sharing this with you because it’s important to be honest about the struggle. And it’s important that you see the struggle and hopefully learn from it.

I love this community. I love what y’all have created here. And I will not let anyone diminish what we’re doing. I will not let anyone threaten the safe space we’ve created here. I will not allow anything to come before the work that needs to be done. The work that we – all of us – are doing to create a more vibrant, equitable and resilient city.  AND I WILL NOT ALLOW ANYONE TO PULL US DOWN AS WE RISE TOGETHER AND SAY IN A STRONG, CLEAR VOICE TO THOSE WHO SEEK TO STAND BETWEEN US AND PROGRESS – “GET OUT OF OUR WAY. WE HAVE WORK TO DO.”