Looking Back, Launching Forward
As we head into the annual “giving season”, I wanted to take a moment, as Marrow’s founder, to talk about how far we’ve come in the last couple years, where we’re heading, and how you can help us get there!
Do you remember when Marrow was in a dim, windowless garage, without bathrooms or heat?!?
It seems like a lifetime ago, but really it was just 2016. We rented this (boring) unoccupied office space - just across the street from that garage, in January of 2017. In two short years, we’ve carved it out and made it our own - local artists young and old have installed murals, Roosevelt students replaced our tattered carpet with beautiful flooring, we started a community garden, collected cute couches from Craigslist, and expanded creatively into every nook and cranny of this unit…
But beyond the physical growth of this place, we’ve created a hub here. I named Marrow after bone marrow, with the intention of building a space where young people could grow and strengthen, so they could go out into their communities and provide support, education, and mutual aid; like blood cells from marrow.
I’m seeing just that happening here - in both our youth and adult community members. Youth who’ve performed in our open mics have gone on to place in local spoken word competitions. They’ve blossomed into incredible artists and vocal activists. Revisited passions that they’d thought were unrealistic, and realized that they can make something out of them. They’ve organized shows, events, clothing launches. They put together a free store to support their peers in accessing cute, gender affirming clothes. They caught the attention of the Portland Mercury. Our MIND & MOUTH facilitator Briauna has gone from her first nervous youth writing workshop at Marrow, to leading incredible poetry workshops for writers of all ages here, at Roosevelt High School, and at the Independent Publishing Resource Center.
We have three years left on this lease, and I truly can’t even imagine how we’ll have grown by then. Our growth is out of my hands, and while that can be scary as the individual who planted this seed, it makes me proud and emotional to know that it’s out of my hands because it’s growing and being tended to by our youth leaders now. You can help us build a strong foundation for them to continue growing in, so that we’re ready for whatever the next phase is for Marrow.
We decided not to participate in the WW Give!Guide again this year - because looking at last year’s donor list - it was YOU, our existing community. We cannot compete for new donors with the bigger organizations that participate (like Planned Parenthood), and it just isn’t us. Marrow has always been scrappy, been DIY and grassroots, been community-led, been non-hierarchical, been us.
So, despite not having that specific, amplified structure in place - we’re here, in November, the official start of fundraising season, asking for your support. We’re depending on you, dear blood cells, to help us reach the larger community, and our goal.
Last year we raised just over $5,000 in November - December. Let’s see if we can top that! If everyone gives what and how they’re able, this place can continue to thrive and grow for another year. Make a donation if you can, amplify our message on social media, come to our events, bring your tinder date, send an email to that rich uncle. Everything counts.
100% of the funding raised will go toward Marrow’s operational costs - rent, insurance, keeping the lights and the heat on - the things that allow us to keep this space accessible to any youth who comes in our front door. We’ll continue to be volunteer and collective-operated as we seek out grant funding.
Who knows what we’ll have accomplished by the end of 2019?! I’m really, really excited to see. I hope you are too.