Ozay Moore’s Transformative Session at the 2024 Facilitation Lab Summit

At this year’s Facilitation Lab Summit, Ozay Moore brought a unique blend of hip-hop culture and facilitation to his workshop, “What’s In The Soil?” Ozay, a respected figure in the hip-hop educational sphere, guided attendees through an exploration of community and cultural resources with a dynamic, music-infused presentation that resonated across a diverse audience.

The session began with a lively icebreaker where attendees mapped their hip-hop knowledge and experiences on a Y-axis chart, creating a visual spectrum of engagement that sparked lively discussions among participants. This not only set a fun tone but also emphasized the universal reach and relevance of hip-hop as a tool for connection.

Diving deeper, Ozay shared his journey through the cities of Seattle, Portland, and Lansing, drawing parallels between his personal experiences and broader community dynamics. Each city’s unique cultural “soil” served as a metaphor for understanding how local environments shape communal and individual growth.

The core of the workshop involved a practical exercise in resource mapping, where participants used sticky notes and mobile research to identify Austin’s assets that could support the military family facility at Austin Community College. This activity highlighted the potential for grassroots community engagement and the importance of local insights in resource development.

Feedback from the session was overwhelmingly positive, with many participants appreciating the innovative approach to combining music, culture, and facilitation. Ozay’s ability to weave hip-hop into the fabric of community planning and resource mapping provided fresh perspectives on how to leverage cultural assets for community development.

In his closing remarks, Ozay emphasized the importance of staying curious and proactive about community engagement. He challenged everyone to think about how they could apply the workshop’s insights into their professional and personal lives, fostering environments where collaboration and innovation thrive.

Ozay Moore’s workshop was not just an educational experience but a call to action, urging attendees to think creatively about community resources and engagement through the universal language of hip-hop. His session was a highlight of the summit, leaving a lasting impression on all who participated.

Watch the full video below:


Ozay Moore:

All right. All right. How’s everybody feeling? You guys doing all right? Fed, inspired, tired? Nah. Ready? All right. So I’m going to vibe out for you all just for a bit here. While you’re enjoying the tones, I would like for you to weigh in on our Y-axis chart over here. As you can see on the left-hand side, dictating or expressing your experience in hip-hop. So the higher you go up is like, yeah, I’ve been around hip-hop for a while. I’ve experienced quite a bit, or I haven’t experienced at all on the lower part of the chart. And then to the right and left your knowledge of hip-hop. So I would like for you to weigh in with your little stickies on your tables, and as you feel so led, and as you do a little bit of introspection and kind of think of why I would even ask this question, you can make your way up to the front and put your point on the map, so to speak. All right? That’s it. Your knowledge in hip-hop and experience in hip-hop. There is no right or wrong answer, just weigh it in.

All right, well done everyone. Cool. A little chaos, a little organized confusion here. Welcome, welcome. Thank you for being here. Now I need to see, I’m curious. I can’t see your answers. Whoa, we’re all over the spectrum. You said it’s better than you thought it would be. Isn’t that interesting? What’s beautiful about that is something we forget. I mean, hip-hop is everywhere, and we all have some kind of relationship to it. Today as we kind of explore what’s in the soil, soil being a metaphor to the ecosystem of experiences and opportunities that kind of inform who we are. So when you hear soil a lot, that’s what I’m referring to, whether it’s personal or collectively, our society, our community, and hip-hop. I’ll talk more about what I mean because I think sometimes there’s a visceral reaction or a reaction nonetheless, when the word hip-hop comes up.

We all have our ideas of what it is and what it isn’t, and it relates to us, and it sometimes in a lot of cases informs how we view folks, communities, behaviors, trends, et cetera, et cetera. So in today’s talk and conversation with you all, we’re going to talk about resource mapping through the unique scope of hip-hop culture and community. So there’ll be some nuggets in facilitation there, as I believe facilitation is a part of hip hop culture is just kind of in it. But also hopefully as we think about the unique needs of Austin, Texas and here in this community and the resources provided by ACC with the military family facility, be brainstorming different ways in which we can tap into the resources locally and explore what those are and how we can suggest them or come up with some ideas on how there can be some strong collaboration between the college and the community.

Thank you for that. Makes some noise for yourselves being across the board in terms of hip hop knowledge. That’s not important. Okay, moving right on. But what is important as we talk about soil is I would like to ground the conversation in the reality that we are here right now on this soil that has a history. So if you wouldn’t mind, just close your eyes for a moment. We’re coming off of lunch. We’re coming from some real robust conversations and some stretching and some critical thinking, a lot of it, and the vulnerability and the shared purpose to grow and to push conversations forward in this room, it is electric. It’s beautiful to be in a room with so many mindful individuals. There’s something special about vulnerability and centering yourself in the moment here. And as we center ourselves, I would like to just acknowledge the folks who were here before us.

I would like to acknowledge that we are meeting on the indigenous lands of Turtle Island, the ancestral name for what now is called North America. Moreover, I would like to acknowledge the Alabama, Coushatta, Karok, Keresan, Kamokurro, Kwalhioqua, Kamanche, Kickapoo, Lipan, Apache, Tonkawa and Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, and all the American Indian and indigenous peoples and communities who have been or have become a part of these lands and territories in Texas. It’s important to me that we reflect on the past so as to not erase history and culture, but also unrelated to just acknowledging and really understanding there was caretakers of this land before and will continue to be part of that rich heritage. We also aren’t recognizing history, and especially in hip hop, I have a lot of conversations around hip hop culture and the importance of preserving it. Not to be held hostage by the way things were, but to inform what they could be and knowing that we’re building on top of a narrative and an ecosystem and a reality and a truth.

My name is Ozay Moore. I am the founder and executive director as Douglas so graciously put for a nonprofit organization in Lansing, Michigan called All the Above Hip Hop Academy, where we mentor youth through hip hop culture. So essentially what we do is we center this culture, this beautiful culture, and we find local practitioners to create spaces for elders in the community and young people in the community to relate, to congregate, to build, to ideate, to strengthen community and relationship and bonds.

It takes a village, we believe that truly. So as I talk about how I got to the place, it was never my goal to end up a nonprofit ED, founder and executive director. That was never the goal. It just by happenstance and kind of going with the flow of things and recognizing needs and where I was in that season of my life, seeing an opportunity to add to what was already there, because I think in resource mapping, you discover what’s there, but if you do it well, you also discover what’s not there. And for those of you, we have room full of facilitators and brilliant folks. You can start to ideate and come up with ideas. So this isn’t here, these folks. And so if you do the math, you’re like, well, there’s a group of people here. This is what the interest is. There’s this need and a lack of a resource here, or there’s a part of a resource here. Maybe we need collaboration, maybe we need a brand new idea altogether. But we’re going to talk and explore some of those ideas as we go through this session.

So I’m from Seattle, Washington, born and raised. And as an MC, who’s from Seattle. Who’s that? You? All right, let’s just weigh in real quick. Let’s see where folks are at. All right, who’s from Austin, Texas for respect, make some noise for the Austin, Texas folks. Okay, Texas. Make some noise for the Texas folks. Right on just Texas. All right, so that means a large portion of us traveled to get here. Just by show of hands, just so we kind of see who traveled to Austin, Texas to be here for this amazing summit. Wow. Make some noise for yourselves too, right? So we are sitting in a room full of, I mean, primarily we’re all strangers to one degree or another, and we’ve been able to go incredibly deep quickly.

I have this philosophy, actually it’s a borrowed philosophy from the writer, Daniel Coyle, who expresses in the Culture Code book that in order to have healthy community or culture, you have to have one, vulnerability, two, safety, and third, a shared purpose. And that is here just by default, it feels like. For the most part, the shared purpose is to grow as facilitators and to also support the work of this institution. There’s a vulnerability because as facilitators, we recognize the power of that. And I also want to name that I recognize as where I’m going to ask and invite folks to get vulnerable.

You share what you feel comfortable doing and that is enough. But I would say overall there is just a overwhelming sense of openness in this room that I think is really beautiful. So just acknowledge that for a moment and know that we are among friends, we’re among comrades and folks who want to drive ideas forward to see a better world, a better community. So that is something we can center our conversation and experience. And we’re on the same team here, which is beautiful. But in true MC fashion, which I have a real love for words, I have a love for wordplay, I have an addiction for simile and metaphor, inferences and that sort of thing.

So as I kind of talk about these different places, the tale of three cities and how it kind of informed my approach, I will use the metaphor of what naturally grows in the soil of these locations as a metaphor to what was happening in my life that I took inventory on that shaped how I view things now. Seattle, this was my community growing up, culturally diverse, rich, green. I’m not going to lie, Seattle’s beautiful. I’m just looking at the, yeah. I remember a time where I was driving through or traveling and folks didn’t even know where Seattle was. They’re like, isn’t that in Canada or someplace?

But this was my community, solid, consistent. It wasn’t really flashy, it was just grounded and culturally diverse in terms of the hip hop scene. When I say hip hop, I’m not saying just rap or dance. And let me just clarify this term, hip hop. Hip hop is based on five components, five elements we like to say. So first element, the DJ. Second element, the MC. Third element, graffiti art. Fourth element, the breaker or the b-boy, b-girl, breaker. Fifth component is this knowledge piece that’s like you arrive built into hip hop culture is this sharing of information. We have this philosophy that’s each one teach one, which this is hip hop to me. Even this facilitation lab, this is very hip hop to me. You wouldn’t know it, but check the data though. You know what I’m saying? It’s super hip hop.

But because built into it is this idea of let’s get better together. Let’s share information. Let’s collectively move the needle. Contrary to popular belief or a more commercialized approach to hip hop culture, where again, let’s just just weight it in the room. When you hear the word hip hop, what’s a word or two that come to mind? And I would like for you to be honest, truthful. I want the folks who maybe don’t have a whole lot of experience in hip-hop. I want you to be honest about that because I think this is an opportunity for us to maybe talk about or at least express and move the needle, a nudge a little bit. I guarantee today will be a different experience in hip-hop culture than you might’ve had before. But yes, rhythm. You think of rhythm when you think of hip-hop. Excellent. Yes. Edgy, yes. Provocative. Sure. Yes, two.

Speaker 2:

Wild style.

Ozay Moore:

Ooh, wild style. A reference to a classic. And yes, wild style for sure. Any other ideas? Yes. Yeah, fashion, expression. I know I got you running around. I’m like over here, over here. So I need to come down the line instead of… We focus on answers over here and move here. All right? Yes.

Speaker 3:


Ozay Moore:

Love that. Authenticity. For sure. For sure. Yeah, poetic. Love it. Anyone else?

Speaker 4:


Ozay Moore:

Aggression. Yes, yeah. Let’s talk about some of the ideas that come to mind that, hey, you might have been like, I don’t really understand this, but this is what I see. And it may not be so flattering.

Speaker 5:


Ozay Moore:

Vulgar. Yes, a vulgarity too. Yes. Anyone else?

Speaker 6:


Ozay Moore:

Yeah, anti-establishment for sure. Built into it. I love it. Anyone else?

Speaker 7:

Flashy consumption.

Ozay Moore:


Speaker 7:


Ozay Moore:

Yeah, money. Flashy. Yep. Yep.

Speaker 8:

Black culture.

Ozay Moore:

Black culture. Thank you. Yes indeed. Black folks, please. Thank you.

Speaker 9:

I would say like flexing.

Ozay Moore:

Flexing. Flashy. Yeah. Flex like, yeah, I got it. Check it out. Yes.

Speaker 10:

Not safe for a white person to do.

Ozay Moore:

Not safe for a white person to do, be a part of or be. What do you mean by do?

Speaker 10:

Like it would be like an impersonation.

Ozay Moore:

Oh yeah. There’d be a lack of authenticity. Yeah. Okay. Thank you for that. Thank you for that. Anyone else? Oh, this is really rich. It’s good. Thank you for sharing and being honest. So this was my culture though, and it was full of folks from all over the world. Literally from the Pacific Islands to South America, Middle Eastern countries, European continent, all over the world. And somehow hip hop has been able to be a global thing. We want to explore a little bit about that too. While I was in Seattle, the evergreen though, the evergreen was the thing that grew in Seattle that grounded me to my experience there. It was consistent. It was green. It was year-round. So even through the seasons, it was steady. It was solid. Now granted, I was a certain age. I hadn’t experienced a whole lot of adulting and adulthood and understanding the ebbs and flows of life. I was pretty bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and just ready to go rap my way through life for real.

But the evergreen state, that was it. It felt very grounding to me, consistent. Then I moved to Portland, Oregon, also my scene, also the city. So in Portland though, they have this beautiful, every year the cherry blossoms bloom downtown, and it’s remarkable. It’s beautiful. It’s very seasonal though. And at that point in time of my life, I was experiencing being a full-time musician and the ups and downs of that rhythm, that rhythm. And it informed me to think about the future a little bit different, to plan and move through my day to day, a little bit different. But if there was one thing, and it also had their evergreens, it was solid. It was a good scene. But at that point in my life, I was really experiencing what it was like to go through these seasons of lush and beautiful growth. And then seasons of, okay, I guess it’s hard to sustain that. Then Lansing, Michigan, where I currently live, Lansing, Michigan was a trip. For me being from the West Coast, having this green around all the time, it’s very deciduous. Like the plant life there so seasonal.

We have these long spells of gray skies and sticks erected into the sky. These trees that once were full of foliage are just now sticks. All over cold, gray. And then you have these beautiful summers and a short-lived, incredible spring, snowy winters, real real seasons. And I want to talk a little bit about why this place was really what I needed and really has shaped who I am today as difficult as it was. I think when I first got to Michigan, I was ready to leave within the first week. I was like, let’s plan our escape, shall we? Let’s maybe cool for a second, but we can’t stay here. But it’s amazing what happens when you get curious about what’s there and you decide to adopt the idea that the grass is greener where you water it. There’s something to that.

I think as facilitators, as visionaries and folks who are doing work in our community, it’s easy to recognize, oh, this place may be better. But truly there’s this opportunity where there is a void to water, to plant, to seed. And you might say, that’s not my bag. I just want to get in and be a part. That was me. But as I started to fall in love with this city and the people in it and started recognizing some of the unique scenarios it was facing and going through over the course of 10 years. And I was there mind you, my partner is from Lansing. We met in Portland. So the reason why, I mean, you’re probably asking why did you go to Lansing? I went there because my partner’s there. And I was like, hey, let’s try it out. Start a family and let’s do it. And we’ve been able to build something really beautiful there, and it’s all centered around community.

But one interesting thing about living in a city where you don’t fully recognize its potential and it’s kind of unfolding as you live through it, is it’s hard to really value what’s already there sometimes. When the deficit feels so big and so key and so crucial and not really understanding that there’s a reason why. There’s a history to why it is the way it is. Lansing, Michigan is an automotive town. Again, it’s all hinged on this resource mapping. So I had to kind of understand the soil I was working with to make it the home I wanted to be by understanding what was there and what the history was.

But it’s an automotive town. It’s a college town semi. It’s also the state capital. So you have government, you have the automotive industry that wasn’t necessarily serving the community as it once did. And then you have in East Lansing, which is not the east side of Lansing, it is a separate city with a separate mayor. And even in East Lansing, campus is its own city. So unlike other college towns, there was not this kind of cross-pollinization of culture and ideas in and out of the college. It was really insular. So I’m moving to Lansing, Michigan. I’m like, well, I’m new here, what is here? As a musician, I wanted to tap in. So I was serving, I think, who remembers MySpace? Remember MySpace? All right. Yeah. So I was on MySpace, on the MySpace trying to figure out who’s who and what’s what in Lansing. And I found some rappers, I found some promoters and whatnot.

And not only did they offer me opportunities to get involved, they would sit and talk with me as I asked questions and got curious about, so why is this place, why is it like this? Am I tripping? It feels weird. It feels like really disconnected. The scene doesn’t seem to be thriving, but the automotive industry, it just seems like it’s just depressive. It feels like folks are in a bad place. And it’s like, well, there’s layers to this. But one reason is the automotive industry at one point in time was providing white collar wages with blue collar work. And the community wasn’t really centered or designed for people to live, play, party, hang out. There was no centralized location for people to meet and congregate and spend time. So what folks did naturally in Michigan, and those of you from Michigan might notice, but when you ask somebody what you’re doing for the weekend, they say, we’re going up north, we’re going up north.

Had no idea what was up north. But I found out people were buying beach houses or lake properties because at one point in time, the family made up. So we had this beach home or this lake property in our family forever. And so that’s what we do for fun on the weekend, but the money wasn’t being spent in Lansing. So you see this kind of interconnected like conundrum where you have the college sees no reason to get involved in Lansing, so they’re not spending money and they’re not really engaging. There’s nothing happening there. So there’s a missed opportunity. Awareness. There was this kind of idea that Lansing was dangerous, so folks didn’t want to come across 127 and spend time in the community. So there was a lot of pieces that played into the misinformation and the idea about this city that I know different, but nonetheless missed opportunities and a lot of ideas.

So for the last 10 years, or no, 17, but for 10 years, I just was getting really, I was just curious. I was fascinated by this. Talking with folks in the indigenous community and they had terms and ideas about, well, this has always been like a ceremonial place. Yes, there’s folks and caretakers of this land, but it’s always kind of been a place where people congregate for a moment and leave, congregate and leave. It’s kind of built into the idea that the name was Nkwejong and that’s the river that runs through Lansing, Michigan and it connects. It connects right in Lansing, goes and disconnects again. So historically, this space was celebrated. It was a ceremonial and ancestral place. Folks would come do festivals and then leave. It was kind of built into the idea.

But now you have a community. You have a city that’s trying to retain talent, trying to retain people, trying to retain alumni from MSU and can’t do it, struggling. And so hip hop, to me, by nature, hip hop is very DYI, very do-it-yourself. Quick hip hop, who has, let me see. What do we see on knowledge of hip hop. So we have some folks who understand some his… Whoa. Now I need to meet this person. Where you at? Just by a show of hand, where you at? Who is this? My man. All right, quick quiz. Quick quiz. Quick quiz. No, I got you. So we just celebrated how many years of hip-hop?

Speaker 11:


Ozay Moore:

That was a great guess. It was a great guess. We had it in the back. 50, 50 years of hip-hop. Now I understand. So again, clarifying. No, listen, that was not to call you out, sir, because when we talk about hip-hop I think when you think of this word, you may be thinking about a piece of hip-hop. You may have a wealth of knowledge in the music. You may have a wealth of knowledge in the dance and the fashion, but we talk about hip-hop as this kind of philosophy, idea, culture. I celebrate hip-hop as a verb. Hip information, hop action, move. So you get the information and you act on it. That’s hip-hop to me, that’s how we celebrate it.

So the reason why it kind of translates and is global is because it provided a platform by which young people experiencing the pressures of life regardless of your race and ethnicity. If you know pressure, having a blueprint by which you can get creative and express yourself, and you see it modeled from folks from the South Bronx or from the Bronx, New York who were undergoing some of the most pressures in our country at the time. Quick historical fact. You say like hip-hop is 50 years old, give or take. You talk to people from the Bronx, they say, ah, Disco, so-and-so was the first original DJ, and he don’t even get talked about. He was the actual person. That’s 10 years before you even started talking about hip-hop. So actually it’s 60 years old. That’s the local narrative. And you have to respect that. I don’t weigh in as the aficionado expert on hip-hop everything, but I can bring it to you in a way it was like it’s a complex concept, but it’s also a global phenomenon in the way that people across the world relate to. It is beautiful.

My profession has afforded me opportunities to see hip-hop in other languages in Japan, Amsterdam, Norway, Germany, Spain, all over and all over our country. And it is articulated and expressed in very different ways based on the region, based on the region, based on that local piece. There is something beautiful about tapping into local resources, the identities, the differences of each community and allowing it to inform. I tell people like this, hip-hop to me is like rice and chicken. There’s a million different ways to prepare rice and chicken. It’s still rice and chicken. It’s the protein and the rice. But you travel across the world and you see it expressed different ways, but at the core of it, there’s a respect for it being rice and chicken. Thank you for bringing up. This is black culture. This is black and brown culture. Black and brown youth of New York in the seventies, building community around the shared pressures of their environment, getting creative about how to resolve conflict through dance.

That’s history, truthfully. Breaking was used as a form to not fight, to check your bats and your knives and your guns at the door and have a safe neutral zone where we can get creative and express our angst, but not get violent. That’s built in. That was youth coming up with that idea. Young people figuring out how do we stop? And again, New York at that time, there was hundreds of gangs on every corner. You ever seen the movie Warriors? Anyone remember this movie. Okay, Warriors, that’s an old reference, old relatively speaking. But yes, if you’ve seen the Warriors, it was a depiction of the Bronx at that time.

So why and how hip hop? Well, because hip hop isn’t good or bad in and of itself, it’s very malleable. But built into it is agency and advocacy and justice and forward motion as a culture, recognizing the needs of a community and figuring out how to get it when folks aren’t giving it to you or providing access to you. That’s the beauty of hip hop one of them. So as I think about facilitation and I think about mapping local resources, it’s kind of guerrilla in my mind. It’s like I don’t do well with bureaucracy and a lot of the bureaucratic, I mean, who loves bureaucracy? Who loves it? Just by a show of hands if you love it. I mean, if you’re an admin and you’re like, hey, hey, you got a checks and balances. You got to have it. I get that. I get that, but sometimes it just gets ridiculous. You know what I mean? I get it, but man, can you just cut the check already?

How many departments does it have to go through? And we already missed the opportunity, you missed the season. But somebody had mentioned over here that hip hop is anti-establishment. Was that you? Yeah. And there’s something so rugged and beautiful about that, especially when their needs aren’t being addressed. What do you do? You go get them. You make them happen. You create the opportunity. One fun fact about graffiti art. So graffiti art obviously demonized in a lot of spaces and ways. And you think about wow, vandalism, vandalism, vandalism. Let’s think back to New York when graffiti was kind starting to emerge. And graffiti, just so you know for historical context, it’s from Philadelphia. Started through tagging and writing your name and your street on different places. But think about the human need.

Somebody mentioned earlier being seen, heard and validated. As an artist with a non-traditional medium who finds access through aerosol paint and finds their canvases just on walls people aren’t looking at. Dilapidated buildings and whatnot, that’s my canvas. You will know my name. I’ll put my name on, even though it’d be a moniker, I will be seen and heard. And furthermore, I will write my name on the train that circles around my city and stand on the rooftop with my friends and be like, there I am. Check it. That’s me. So-and-so from the Bronx, that’s me. That feeling of I’m seen, heard. You see, you might not know who that is, but I know who it is and everybody here knows it is, and you have to see me. You have to. That energy is in hip hop. But what does it say about community and people?

So you can’t separate this culture from the people who lived it and built it. But it’s taught me a lot about being resourceful and in resourcefulness to innovate through constraints. They say some of the best innovations are with constraints. Timelines or limited resources, limited access. You really have to get creative about what you’re building here and what you’re trying to develop. Taught me how to collaborate and network with other folks and really figure out, hey, we’re better together. But that’s kind of built into the ecosystem of hip hop culture. Funny concept is when DEI work in 2020, all of a sudden DEI just started popping up everywhere. Everybody had a DEI policy and program, and now a wing at your company. We had talk about DEI, the world’s on fire, America’s on fire, we need to talk about this. And so one of the funders was like, so what’s your DEI policy? They’re like, what?

We live this DEI policy. You just freestyle a policy to you right now because it’s built into what we do. So to collaborate, network, to scaffold everything that’s part of that resourcefulness. It’s like, I see this opportunity. I’m automatically making connections about how that person needs to meet this person. And if we do this, this event will be a little bit better because nobody’s giving you a blueprint on how to do it. You’re just figuring it out as you go. So you have to develop these abilities in order to drive your idea forward and to apply the knowledge. That’s the hard part, act on the knowledge. And then the philosophy of each one teach one, sharing information. So all of this, these were things that were developed in me in my time of Lansing saying, this is a place where this shouldn’t work. But I see an opportunity to really work with young people to help work with local businesses. To maybe drive and push and boost and strengthen our economy by attracting young professionals here, by creating these cultural events that people can relate to.

These are all concepts and marketing and ideas and strategies in urban design that were just kind of birthed out of the hip-hop in a way of being and philosophies. Yeah, that makes sense. Let’s just do it. Cut the middle man and make it happen. And another quick funny story is I remember we did this mural festival, and in the mural festival there were some developers in town and they were curious as how we were able to activate 11 large walls with high-caliber quality mural art. Artists from all over the world came to Lansing and painted our town. And they were like, in this particular developer has been called a gentrifier, quite honestly. And their practices aren’t always sound, how they develop and how they push folks out of communities, but he had a particular interest on activating unused spaces with murals. He’s like, so how much does this cost you? Like 500K or? Like 500K?

You don’t understand that we would do that just because, that’s not equitable. So yeah, we got the money and we paid everybody really well. But your idea, you’re just way off of what it took for us to activate these spaces because we were scrappy, we were resourceful, and we knew how to generate and foster community. Community being as the glue of what attracts people to come and be a part and participate and collaborate and engage and ideate and build and drive things forward. Healthy community does that, and it’s fascinating when you prioritize healthy community, what the benefits are. So I don’t want to just plug into the audio, but just a quick, I’ve talked a little bit about the organization we run, and I promise we’re going to get into doing some things. I got some activities for y’all to go deep with each other and discover what’s in the soil at your own table.

But yeah, this is a little bit of who we are and what we do in Lansing, Michigan, All the Above Hip Hop Academy, boom. We’ve been a nonprofit organization since about 2017. We started in 2012 just building slowly, incrementally, but really intentionally to make sure that whatever we were doing would be sustained. Because one of the things we discovered in our community was that our scene was largely supported by the university. The university had a revolving door of people who were interested for about four years, then they would take off and we’d be left at ground zero starting over again. But this is some of the community and spaces that we’re generating with young people, with adults, with the broader hip hop community, but spaces. At schools, with creative folks, with organizers, with principals, with government, politicians, small businesses. All seeing and validating hip hop culture and seeing the power of it and how it can drive and push things forward in our own community of Lansing, the least likely place for something centered in hip hop to work, at least as folks knew it to be.

It’s a whole principle right there. He was turned, super turned. But what does that do for young people to see their principal enjoying himself and participating? That same principal greets his students every morning outside, he shakes their hands and says, welcome, welcome to school. We expect greatness from you. Welcome, welcome, welcome. Just engaged. These are folks who are like, when you talk to him about hip hop, he has a serious reaction to his history and how he was informed by hip hop and that community building piece.

So what we’re going to do here as we talk about soil and what’s in it, I just shared a bit with you about how getting curious about what was in my community led to innovation and ideas on how I could better serve the community. Right now, we’re sitting at tables where we don’t really know each other. So I would like to, for the next, about 15 to 20 minutes, spend some time at our tables giving folks the opportunity to share what’s in the soil of their own lives, to share what’s in their soil. What is in the ecosystem that made you who you are? What are the experiences, what is the upbringing? What is the cultural climate that made you who you are?

This is meant to be reflective, and it’s meant for us to build that community at our own tables and get to know the folks around us. So I know we kind of have disproportionate in terms of how many people are at each table, but I would say three to five minutes, each person just share a bit of who you are, what was in the soil that made you who you are, what were some of the experiences you’ve encountered growing up that really informed you? I’m not talking about omit from sharing, I’m from Nebraska if you can’t identify why that really matters is what the challenge is.

So find reason in these pieces that you identify in your soil, and let’s just focus on those things. So let’s take about five minutes just to reflect first before we move into sharing, but let’s reflect on what is in your soil personally that has built you to be who you are. For the sake of time, I’m going to give everybody about five more minutes. So we make our way around our table. I know some of our tables are a little bit larger, so I know it’s good. We’re going to wrap up this exercise of discovering what’s in the soil at your table. But as we engage in that, what came out for some folks there? Were there some things that you realized or identified in trying to pinpoint certain parts of your soil that really made you who you are or informed who you’ve become? Anything that stood out or came to the surface for folks, it was like, oh, I guess I never really made that connection. Or it’s a new discovery.

Speaker 12:

The question allowed for that to be able to be part of what we talked about instead of saying really sterile things like this is what I do and why I like it.

Ozay Moore:

Yeah. All right. I love that composting. Yeah, that’s taking some stuff that might be the scraps and be like, Hey, it’s useful too. In fact, it might be fertile or to help with the fertility of what else I’m trying to grow. Scaffolding again, that concept too. Yeah. Anyone else? Yeah.

Speaker 13:

I was just present to through struggle and obstacle, not just my own, but my lineage that could become such resources and beauty and gifts in my life. I was present to that. Thank you.

Ozay Moore:

Yeah, beautiful. Thank you for that. Thank you for sharing that. Steve, we are so richly complex as individuals, as a society, as a community, we’re just complex layers. And sometimes just curiosity as to why and how, while affirming people’s humanity through the processes it’s beautiful. Anyone else would like to share a discovery in this process, in this exercise? Let me get one more. Yes.

Speaker 14:

So of course Portland is right next to the Willamette Valley where some really great wine is made and wine is kind of a hobby of mine. And so I kept thinking about how much the soil can influence the flavor of the grapes and what it’s able to produce. And there’s different varietals and they’re all great in their own way, but they’re all made based on what the earth offered them to start with.

Ozay Moore:

Oh, snaps. Oh, snaps. Compost. Oh, wine,

Speaker 14:

Mic jaw. Oh, mic jaw.

Ozay Moore:

I think of coffee, same thing. The regions, the elevation, the earth. Literally what’s there working in collaboration with the farmers. Oh, wow. Beautiful. Good. Well, thank you for taking time to do that introspection. But that same concept can be applied when we’re thinking, when we’re resource mapping or mapping the opportunities in what a region or a community has to offer. So in lieu of the need here at the school. And I have this whole thing, I get all nerdy rap about it, like, oh, the metaphor for potassium. So there’s three things in soil that help plants grow the nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, and then trying to relate it to whatever. That doesn’t matter. We don’t have a lot of time to get that, to nerd out about some rap stuff, but just if you want to talk about it, I’m open.

Let’s do it. We’ll catch a bench outside and do it. But while we’re here, yeah, I think it’s healthy to acknowledge that yeah, we all have, if there were three components, I mean there’s multiple. But the basic needs, community support and development opportunities. What kind of local resources might Austin offer this school and the military family center around basic needs, community support and developmental opportunities for the families of folks who are in the programs, the youth, the kids. People are moving from across the country. They’re kind of uprooting and coming to be a part of this resource and to take advantage of this resource. So I would like to take some time, maybe about 10 minutes, 10 to 15 for us to use the sticky notes on our table and our phones as researchers. And maybe just what we know about Austin in general.

I won’t lie. I came here, I didn’t know a whole lot about this community outside of South by Southwest as a musician, but I know it’s grown exponentially over the last 10 years, big thing. How is that? Why is that? What does that say about the economy? What does that say about the locals? What does that say about resources? And right, you can get curious to the point of like, wow, let’s really dig into this ground and figure out what’s here. But what I would like for folks to do is let’s use these sticker notes or sticky pads. On one we can create, I guess silos or columns on our table with the sticky notes, basic needs, community and development opportunities.

And as you drum up or think of ideas, just set them under one of the three categories, basic needs kind of things like housing, child care, transportation, et cetera. Community, activities, interest groups, sports, et cetera. Development opportunities, training, schools, internships. What kind of resources does Austin have currently, or what are some that you discover that don’t exist here that maybe they would benefit from having here? So as we have these many libraries in our phones, I’m going to encourage you to one, draw from what you know, but also do some research. Let’s Google, let’s get some ideas down on paper in this kind of guerrilla form of resource mapping just by using this wonderful device we have in our pockets.

And I’m interested to see what folks come up. With that though I would like to just give a shout-out to my sponsor, a sponsor. It is a local organization here in Austin, Texas. CreateLab, the brilliant Rafael Travis. He is an educator at the university. He does a lot of work around hip-hop ed and hip-hop community work. And I met him in New York at a hip-hop ed conference, and I found out that he lived in Austin. So knowing I was coming out this way, I reached out and was like, hey, I’m doing a presentation or I’m doing a workshop here. Is there a way that we can collaborate? He says, do you want better? Do you need some equipment? I was like, absolutely. So the DJ device, that’s my laptop, but that’s his DJ device, his turntable, his speaker. And they gave of the resources they have at the Creative Lab, my fault. They’re on campus where they really serve young people or the college demographic and the broader community with services centered around arts and creativity and music to do a variety of things centered around social and emotional health and wellness.

So it’s a very particular spin on that. So as we’re kind of thinking about what’s in the soil here and thinking broad and thinking deep and thinking holistically about how they may really connect to the unique individual needs that we know we have and that we can surely believe that folks coming to this new community would like support in. Think that way. Unique opportunities. What are some unique programs, unique resources that may go overlooked or unrecognized. So get curious. Let’s spend the next about 10 minutes exploring, but you could start with this one. I encourage you to dig in. That’s the QR code. You could see a little bit more about what they do around health and wellness and hip hop. But yeah. Without further ado, spend some time. Let’s dig in the soil. What’s here in Austin that would benefit the military family center here?

I just want to say we got about two minutes left. Thank you so much for ideating and coming up with some ideas. I know the college really appreciates it. We’re going to go ahead and wrap up this activity. So I’m curious as to what folks discovered here that maybe was interesting or unexpected. A resource around basic needs, community and developmental opportunities. If there’s anything that was surprising that, oh, that’s here. Wow, that’s incredible. Or in your research, your brief research, discovering I guess a unique quality about Austin that lends itself to some unique resources that are very specific to this community. Anything, yes.

Speaker 15:

So we learned Austin has a really cool library that has some really great kind of community and meeting center things. Darrell mentioned a rooftop, so there’s possibly additional ways to utilize that space as kind of meetups and maybe study groups for kids who are struggling to keep up as they keep moving around and that sort of thing.

Ozay Moore:

Also, this unique opportunity to gather at this, you said a rooftop garden, a roof?

Speaker 15:

I think so, yeah. It would be a fun space.

Ozay Moore:

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. That’s cool. Yes. You, sir. How are you, my friend? Yes.

Speaker 16:

Yeah, I live here and I was aware there were startup supports and accelerators, but I was actually very impressed with how many in the various entrepreneurial support systems that are in place that I didn’t even know about.

Ozay Moore:

Isn’t that something? It’s wild. It makes you feel good about just how many people care. And I’m sure a lot of these resources them being nonprofits and whatnot where they genuinely care about a need. Sometimes where you find a nonprofit work is that not all the time do they collaborate. So the success life and the lifespan of a nonprofit sometimes is short-lived because they have this idea, but they were unaware that it exists and they could have just collaborated and made something together. But yeah, really unique find. Anyone else? Yes.

Speaker 17:

So I’m also an Austin resident, and some of the things that I think is unique about Austin is we do have a large tech community, and that tech community does like to kind of try to give back. One example, a friend of mine runs a nonprofit called Brave Communities, and they sponsor tech girls from around different, each year they focus on a different area of the world. And those girls, we had someone from Jordan come and stay with us, and she was able to go meet people from Google and Apple and kind of be able to fuel her passion for technology. You see similar things in the music space as well. And one of the things about Austin growing so much is you get more and more people coming from different areas.

When I first moved here, one area that’s reflected in is the ethnicity of foods, because when I moved here almost 20 years ago, it was Tex-Mex, and that’s in barbecue. But now you can go and get so many different types of cuisines and there’s just a richness of community because of all the influx of people from different areas that we just didn’t have before. And I think that that’s something that could be tapped into to help those families that you’re talking about, the military families.

Ozay Moore:

Well done. Right on. Thank you for that. Got time for one more question. Thank you. You put it up first. Oh, okay.

Speaker 18:

Yeah, I was just thinking about just that motto. There’s an app for that. And through this exercise, you could easily just say there’s a service for that, just through that line of inquiry. So I was like, I don’t know if anyone’s struggling to get a PC or a computer, which these days, I don’t know if that falls into a basic need or not, which is really sad. But yeah, I mean, I looked it up and there is one, there’s a nonprofit called AustinFree.net, and it’s a community PC program. So I think that just that line of inquiry that we have about does this exist? What are these possible things and assembling that. It’s amazing how you can easily map out what’s in your community.

Ozay Moore:

Yes, thank you so much for that. Yeah, some would argue that Wi-Fi is a basic need now. We had folks doing school online a couple of years ago, and without Wi-Fi, it was drawn. It came to the surface that, hey, we actually need this. It’s an access issue, not a luxury. Folks, thank you so much for digging deep in your own groups, for thinking about this community. Carry this information with you through the rest of the conference, and I know we’ll have some more opportunities through today and tomorrow to ideate and think critically about how we can support such an amazing resource here on campus. But my name is Ozay Moore. Thank you y’all so much for your time. And I say just stay curious, y’all. Just stay curious. Keep asking why. Appreciate you. Peace.