National Earth Day is Saturday, April 21st and you can catch Ujamaa Collective out at Frick Park on Beechwood Blvd this year at the Pittsburgh Park Conservancy's annual Earth Day Celebration from 12 to 4 pm. Try your hand at making nature prints with us using fresh vegetable dyes and take home a reflection of mother's natures beauty!
I'll also drop a short video below we made a few years ago, inspired by the efforts of so many folks here and across the world who are working tirelessly to celebrate and protect Mother Earth from those who are set on exploitation of her resources. I made this video when several of our members got together to perform at a fundraiser for an environmental collective supporting local Pennsylvania communities whose families are affected by fracking. Their land and water was affected so badly by the chemicals used in splitting the rocks below, that serious health issues began plaguing many people. Water is life. It is the essence of everything we are, literally, and we must defend the right to live.
The last several weeks have been a whirlwind of movement for Ujamaa! We went from Wakanda world ( a big THANKS to all the community who shopped our artisans' wares in February, looking fresh in and out of the theaters!) to packing up and heading down the hall of One Hope Square shortly after March began. In the between time, we painted every wall in our new suite with the help of an awesome group of volunteers and donations from community individuals and businesses. We are so very grateful for their generosity. Then we unpacked and began the reorganizing process, which is still taking our time. But we are open for business while working out some of the new details and kinks in actualizing our plan. Our new suite offers us the opportunity to serve our mission in some enhanced ways and we would love for you to come check it out at our:
Re-Grand Opening Celebration on
Thursday April 19, 2018 from 4-8 pm!
We are excited to announce that this is a joint celebration with Salon XO, owned by Monica Tillman Smith, our new neighbor who recently moved her healthy hair business from the Northside to the Hill District. Join us for some tasty refreshments, and enjoy a wellness treatment, hands-on art, storytelling, drumming and song, and the blessing of both of our spaces! See your smiling face in One Hope Square this week, or sometime soon. Be well!
P.S. Below our some images we took during the transformation of our new suite in One Hope Square!
Greetings to All Artists, Patrons, & Friends of Ujamaa’s Retail Boutique!
We want you to be the first to know of a major update for Ujamaa Collective. We are expanding our focus on programs and the maker community, and reducing our retail footprint. In early March, we’re leaving our storefront and moving into a more flexible space that better suits our needs. It’s a big change, though we aren’t going far! We will be in Suite 103 in One Hope Square.
February 2018 marks a decade since Black women in Pittsburgh began organizing cooperative economic models that grew into the non-profit Ujamaa Collective. For eight out of the 10 years, we’ve operated a retail boutique serving Africana artisans and community in the storefront of the One Hope Square building in the Hill District’s Centre Avenue business corridor. More than 150 artists, makers and entrepreneurs have come through our doors with their wares, entrepreneurial services, and workshops. Ujamaa has connected them to customers and communities from all over our city and world. This important service has come at a high cost. Over time, our staff and board have evaluated our inputs, the impacts of our service, and our vision as a non-profit, and we’ve altered our business model to focus on the core things that we provide.
So we’ve identified a new space for our new beginning. We are still in One Hope Square -which is literally right down the hall in Suite 103. While we lose the beautiful window-front space, we gain a space for our expanded services and creating new options for makers and the community at-large.
Our new space provides an inviting environment for entrepreneurial development, and opportunities for cultural education and exchange. We are clear that these services create an impact that helps provide the backbone for healthy fair trade in Africana communities and to resolve issues faced by Africana, mostly female, handmade artists who face barriers to economic access and opportunity, networks and communities of support. Additionally, we interface with many community customers and international constituents who desire a cultural connection. Ujamaa provides a safe, nurturing place for cultural information and mutual understanding through courageous conversations and expressive art-making.
Ujamaa Collective in our new location, in Suite 103, will offer:
- A large Maker Space for art and experiential learning opportunities in creative cooperative business development
- A petite Fair Trade retail space + Expanded e-commerce to serve makers and customers from across the country and globe
- A relaxing visitor’s lounge area
- Space rental for home-based makers working on special projects
- A unique event space
- A calendar of programming for youth and adults
Our last open day in our current space will be Friday, February 23, 2018 and we plan to re-open doors in our new location with new hours by March 12. Please stay tuned to our social media to catch updates on our moving and space-design progress! We’ll also plan a big Re-Grand Opening and invite everyone to check us out!
Thank you so much for all your support for the past decade and here’s to the start of the next chapter!
LaKeisha Wolf, Executive Director
Board and Staff of Ujamaa Collective
What a privilege (and challenge) it was to participate in the Social Venture Partners Non-profit Accelerator Program this past fall. The Full Circle Program selects a cohort of organizations twice a year, grants each group a team of professional business coaches and lays out workshops and assignments to help each get to the core of communicating the impact of the work they do.
Ujamaa Collective fully engaged in this opportunity from October through December, taking advantage of this focused time to evaluate our program models, connect to a larger network, and ultimately pitch our work to an expanded community of professions from across the city of Pittsburgh.
The final pitch event was held at Google headquarters in Bakery Square in mid-December. Director LaKeisha Wolf pulled the audience in and impressed the judges enough that they couldn't pick a sure winner so split the grand prize of $1000 with non-profit Prototype Pgh, the feminist maker space located in Oakland. It was an honor to share the title of winner with the ladies of Prototype, not only because we respect the work they do, but also because we had already began defining ways of partnership for 2018! Co-founders Erin and Louise had already assisted us with a 3D printing activity we offered in our boutique at our annual Black Friday event in November.
Ultimately, our Full Circle experience gave us the final push to move forward with making some important changes that will increase Ujamaa Collective's impact in our community...and we're so glad for it!
Ujamaa is looking for 10 young women between ages 15-21 for a hands-on, experiential arts and entrepreneurship program in our Hill District boutique. Thanks to a grant from The Heinz Endowment's Transformative Arts Program, Ujamaa has retained a resident teaching artist for our program, Ujamaa's very own member Dawn Surgest. As a professional fashion designer, Dawn will prepare participants with skills in textile design and sewing, with the opportunity for launching their own brands within a supportive, cooperative setting.
We are all truly excited about this program and look forward to the consistent youth engagement and await to see all of the creations we know our young sisters are capable of!
Ujamaa Collective is proud to be a part of this year's Maker Faire Pittsburgh. Please stop by our booth #210 join in the fun, make something and see what exciting things Ujamaa is working on with our partners in Tanzania. Looking forward to seeing you there.
Here's a discount for all
Maker family and friends:
10% off Maker Faire Tickets purchased online*
Use code MAKERSFF
*This code is not valid on Children's Museum Member tickets, with other discounts or for tickets purchased in person at the Faire.
Ujamaa Collective is committed to putting our values into practice through the development of a (consumer) cooperative investment opportunity for those in our local network to help advance our common interest goals of supporting enterprises that will supply quality Africana made items- cultural, artistic and otherwise functional. Please highly consider becoming an invested member of our cooperative business community.
Join our Cooperation Over Competition Campaign! Donate $100 and receive a membership card for discounts on every purchase you make in our Boutique and at our Marketplace events.
Be a part of the solution for Black-owned business presence in Pittsburgh. Benefit from the collective cooperation to be the change we need.
The reptile represents the Adinkra symbol Funtunfuneyu, meaning "Siamese crocodiles".Read More
"Chief of the Adinkra symbols"Read More
We are really excited to share that the farm season is off to a growing start- introducing Ujamaa Agricultural Cooperative’s Early Summer Bouquet Collection, featuring cultivated and wildcrafted edible and medicinal plants!
1 Dozen Ox-Eye Daisies- Deluxe (pictured)
Contents: 12 Ox-Eye Daisy stems , 3 Chaffs of Wheat, 5 Plaintain Scapes, Chocolate Mint, 2 Chive Scapes, Red Clover, Black Meddick, & Stalk of Field Pennycress Seeds
Lasts up to 14 days with daily changes of water.
Plaintain scapes, Chive flowers & Chocolate Mint can be chopped & added to myriad dishes
Daisies, Red Clover & Chocolate Mint can be steeped in 8-24 oz of boiling water for 5-7 mins for wonderful herbal teas
Pennycress seeds can be removed from pods & eaten.
All herbs can be preserved for later use by hanging in small bundles or placing on a rack in a single layer until completely dry. About 10 days.
One of the biggest “issues” for artists and craftspeople (particularly women) is how to price their creations. And for the average shopper, price sometimes is a determining factor in whether that item will make it off the shelf and to a new home. On limited incomes, many of us look for the deal or the lowest price- although that doesn’t always guarantee the best quality. While the handmade artist must cover all expenses, from business overhead, the cost of supplies and the value of their time like any other big business, it is very difficult to compete with similar items factory-manufactured cheaply in other countries. Small, independent artists and businesses rely on our neighbors to not only value the creativity put into designs and handmade wares, but also recognize the value of spending dollars locally.
When you buy something from a big-box store, like a Target or Walmart for example, your dollars leave our community pretty quickly. When you buy that similar item from a locally-owned independent store, your dollars stay in the community for much longer, and have the opportunity to work on behalf of your neighborhood. So even if the item is priced a few dollars higher at the local store versus the big-box, it’s important to think beyond the immediate return and think longer term. If that dollar has a chance to circulate between more hands in our neighborhood, more people benefit. In places like the Hill District where local economies are suffering, it’s not just due to low cash flow- it’s also a huge result of how and where that money is spent. And the other benefit of a local business is the accountability they have to the community in which they reside. Many times that business gives to the neighborhood in real and tangible ways, so your dollar is putting in more work. And if the business is not, you should have access to the owner/operator to suggest ways they can give back to the neighborhood that supports their business. Economics is a relationship of value, worth and choices- let’s do our best to choose the options that support more of what we care about and not less.