What a time to be a dreamer, entrepreneur, and creative here in the 757. As you may know, the first week of November in Norfolk, Virginia, began with a star-studded presence featuring Pharrell Williams and Friends. The Mighty Dream Forum gave the city financial opportunity, and attention it desperately deserved. Virginia's slogan is Virginia is for lovers, but after the Mighty Dream Forum, I propose that the new motto should be Virginia's for Dreamers. The city of Norfolk has been under scrutiny for their nightlife as the city is closing down multiple bars and venues that serve the creative community. As controversy inundated the media outlets, negatively impacting Norfolk Creatives, Pharrell's Mighty Dream Forum brought hope and excitement to the area. The forum began with conversations about equity and inclusion. Challenging discussions were brought to the surface and unpacked by panelists and local activists.
Many panels began with topics addressing adding seats to the table for African Americans, Latina X, and LGBTQ leaving no minority left out of industry changing conversations. The conversations held during different panels allowed all minorities to feel seen. A few forums, such as the mighty dream, provide an opportunity to the local community. The meeting brought money to those who need exposure to their brands and businesses. I have been to many conferences, but none like Mighty Dream. By day 3, all entrepreneurs and creatives that attended the Mighty Dream Forum understood their reason and were now motivated to apply more pressure to their ventures. There were multiple opportunities to network and gain exposure to major stakeholders, and an opportunity such as this is only sometimes provided to an entrepreneur or creative. Pharrell and Friends walked Norfolk's streets, allowing room for conversation and the opportunity to pitch ideas and brand yourself. Listening ears is all you need to make your dreams come true; everywhere was an opportunity to introduce yourself and strut your stuff.
Langston Hughes's poem "Let America be America Again" inspired Pharrell to name the conference "Mighty Dream ."The poem states, "Bring back our mighty dream again," the perfect introduction to the dreams that came true in the 3-day convention. Pharrell's partner Black Ambition CEO Felecia Hatcher gave away roughly $750,000 on the first day to Entrepreneurs that pitched their businesses. The economic forum acknowledged the wealth gap for minorities and made significant changes to the entrepreneurs who studied, invested, and sought assistance to add more job opportunities in the cities that they serve. This was an extraordinary experience for an entrepreneur who understands how to get my business. I decided to pitch in the "Pull Up and Pitch" to gain exposure; though I didn't win big money, I won! Black Girl Ventures CEO Omi Bell brought an opportunity to my community and provided local entrepreneurs to pitch their business ideas and win money anywhere from $200 to $50,000 cash prizes. What a moment it was for The Ink Journey and me. I have never thought I would pitch my business, but it taught me discipline, understanding the pitching technique, and being competitive. Finding my way in what I am doing and that alone was enough to close out my year of GREATNESS!
The forum brought local events at the Assembly and local businesses allowing all community engagers to have a chance to speak on the panels and acknowledge the changes that they are influencing the communities with. Our community here in the 757 is filled with stars such as Team Lamb, a local activist and game-changing group who spoke on their intentions with the communities bringing more discovery to star creatives here in the 757. Social Supply VA is a group that drives diversity and inclusion to community events and builds a community of industry leaders looking to bring more to the local areas. Marv P, a star that brings festivals, block parties, and much more, serving the community and bringing excitement for musical artists here in the 757, and lastly, Utopia Feni founder Raeesah, a public figure here in Virginia beach, opens the doors for artists in the community to have exhibitions for their artwork in her gallery Utopia Feni. These are just a few game changers that significantly influence the community and are pushing to make significant changes as they continue to fight for the creative community and bring positive vibes to the area.
Pharrell brought up a good point on the panel. He stated he loves Atlanta, but we can form a culture that brings industry to the 757. Everyone leaves home to chase their dreams, and I am a testament to that, but here in the 757, there are so many astonishing game changers and stakeholders here in the community we can bring an astounding culture. The culture that could be here in 757 would be compelling. It would be majestic and something that has never been done before. Though the change will take time, it will be a masterpiece.
Each day was a magical experience. Celebrities, such as Virginia's very own Pusha T and wife community leader and healer Virginia Williams, Mario Armstrong, DRAM/Shelley, Thundercat, and Kaytranada, to name a few of the stars walking the streets of Norfolk, allowing fans and friends to rally around and showcase their talents and ventures and the best part about the opportunity, the risk takers were heard and seen. The Mighty Dream Forum brought hope and chance to the local dreamers and hard workers. The forum brought essence, inspiration, and a phenomenal experience to the 757.
I left the forum feeling energized, inspired, and motivated for the year 2023. The forum was needed as the year 2022 concludes. This is the 4th quarter, and the significant impact on my business has been game-changing for my industry. I know I am not the only entrepreneur or creative that felt this impact, and I hope we can continue to push the powerful force that influenced the community for three days and make this an eternal power of positivity in the 757. Let's work harder, let's go harder, and let's shine together!