Community, Refuge, and Justice: A Statement from Artisan’s Asylum

DATE:  June 10, 2020     CATEGORIES:  Community, Membership, Outreach

To our community, within the Asylum and beyond.

On 9 June 2020 George Floyd, from whom life was stolen two weeks ago, was laid to rest. With much of America, and especially with Black and Brown communities across the country, we acknowledge your loss, your betrayal, and your tiredness in the face of these ongoing murders of unarmed Black men and women. 

As an organization and as a community, we have not, in the past, taken an active stand for justice. We have not committed our support for our communities of color. We have not heeded the urgent requirement to dismantle white supremacy, systemic racism and the oppression of people of color in American life.

Remembering George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others with you today, we heed this urgent call.

Artisan’s Asylum stands unequivocally with our communities of color. We recognize your grief as mothers and brothers, fathers and sisters, daughters and sons. We share your anger as Americans who yearn for a nation where Black Lives Matter, communities where justice and peace prevail. We share your longing to be a part of a society in which the benefits of creativity, entrepreneurship and hard work are shared equally.

Our yearning and our longing are not enough.

Artisan’s is a privileged organization. We benefit from the network effects of race and class where resources flow, concentrate and grow within affinity networks. As a predominantly white, high income, and predominantly male organization we acknowledge our participation in systems that empower bias, foster privilege, and reward the status quo.

We will work to identify and break apart our linkages in these systems.

Our work as an organization requires multiple layers of commitment and action. We are proud that some of this work began last year. We’ve started collecting baseline data to measure and understand the work ahead. Our board composition is changing, expanding outward to include  leadership from the communities we serve. Our programming, membership and recruitment practices have been opening up to new audiences and broader community involvement.

There is more work to do. We invite members to be active allies in this work.

In the coming months and years Artisan’s will:

  • Redouble our efforts to ensure that Artisan’s board leadership always reflects the communities we aspire to serve.
  • Place community justice, equity and inclusion in our strategic plan, ensuring that our programs fulfill these goals.
  • Increase outreach to our peers of color in the arts, crafts, trades and tech – building alliances that identify, strengthen, and advance our shared goals.
  • Work to transform our facility and our culture into a space free from institutional bias, where people of color are welcome to bring their whole selves and create freely.
  • Identify and dismantle the infrastructure of privilege enshrined in our policies and practices.

From this place of anger, in a moment of confrontation with history and with ourselves, we recognize that something remarkable, something hopeful is happening today. As a makerspace with connections across the country and around the world, we take heart in the outpouring of support for Black and Brown communities nationwide and the cause of justice that is taking place in cities everywhere.

We intend for our “asylum” to serve as a refuge for creativity of all kinds. It’s time to make that intention real, to ensure that our space supports all makers and your traditions.

As a member of the Urban Manufacturing Alliance (UMA), we encourage our fellow maker spaces across the country to join the movement for the re-urbanization of manufacturing, which has at its root a commitment to expanding equity and inclusion in the manufacturing sector. This includes their Pathways to Patient Capital program, which will expand access to financing for minority-owned manufacturing enterprises.

In the months and years ahead, Artisan’s Asylum will deepen our support for UMA and allied organizations to implement this work locally. We will strengthen our relationship to city leaders who embody principled action around the promise of inclusive community development through the arts.

As a member-supported organization, we ask for your partnership in advancing this work. We cannot achieve just ends as an organization if you do not see yourself as essential to this work. Therefore, we invite everyone who is a part of the Asylum community to support our statement and find your footing in this work. Please share our message, and most important: find your means to build inclusion and equity into every action that you take within and on behalf of the Artisan’s Asylum.

Steve Derezinski, Chair of the Board
Artisan’s Asylum, Inc.

Lars Hasselblad Torres, Executive Director
Artisan’s Asylum, Inc.