Why getting local matters for diversity and inclusion

In Blog, Diversity & Inclusion by Rachel Murray

We talk a lot about creating a diverse workforce, but we can hardly do that without a diverse community to draw from. Here in Boston, most non-white people live in Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan. Last week I attended an event put on by TUGG and the Boston Foundation that explored Roxbury, a neighborhood of Boston that has been rapidly gentrifying over the past few years. Boston, like many American cities, is unaffordable for people who are making less than corporate/tech salary wages. The event highlighted some of the wonderful work the neighborhood is doing to support a thriving community, creating opportunity for people who are from there to stay if they choose, regardless of neighborhood affordability.

I’ve got good news. There are meaningful ways that you and your company can help, too! Here are a few ideas:

Host an event at the Roxbury Innovation Center (RIC)
The Roxbury Innovation Center, a Venture Café Foundation program, is a physical space in Dudley Square and serves as a place for innovation, entrepreneurship and community. Not only does it host events (including monthly Café Nights), but it also hosts incredible programs, most notably the incredible Fab Lab, which provides access to cutting edge maker tools, and offers workshops to Boston youth. The RIC has a variety of spaces for people to hold events and meetings.

Order your next business meal from a Roxbury business
An excellent way to support the Roxbury community is by buying from their businesses. An easy way to do this is to try out some of their catering and delivery options. Below are some wonderful options for your next office breakfast, lunch or special event. Each of these restaurants are mission-focused and proceeds go towards supporting the local economy and community.

Dudley DoughDudley Dough makes delicious, healthy, organic pizza and lovely salads, made from locally sourced dough and veggies. They also offer local crafted beers and serve (local!) Toscanini’s ice cream. What we especially love though is their mission. Dudley Dough is the economic inclusion initiative of 50-year-old nonprofit Haley House. Haley House has had a long tradition of creating economic opportunities for those who haven’t had much opportunity. Dudley Dough has created a restaurant workplace that offers profit-sharing. You can read more about their work in this Boston.com article on how Dudley Dough is changing employees’ lives. Also, Haley House caters!

Fresh Food Generation – Fresh Food Generation is a food truck, cafe and catering company on a mission. They believe in supporting local business, eating fresh and healthy foods, and being kind to the planet. Their Latin American and Caribbean cuisine is incredibly flavorful and delicious, which isn’t surprising considering their focus on local foods. I tried their jerk chicken and it was scrumptious. So many wonderful flavors! My mouth was happy. You can learn more about them in this New York Times article on startups focusing on farmers.

Dudley Cafe – Dudley Cafe is another place that serves absolutely delicious food that also focuses on healthy and local. The Cafe owners have created a space that puts community first. Dudley Cafe hosts several events every month including fundraisers, trivia nights and jazz brunch. They encourage us to put our laptops away at a cafe (gasp!), eat delicious food, sip on a yummy drink and take in the people around us, whether it’s by having a conversation with a friend or by making conversation with a new friend. And yes, they also cater and deliver!

Volunteer or donate
Haley House – Your company may have a specific employee volunteer day or some other type of volunteering program. Consider organizing your next volunteer day through Haley House, which offers a variety of ways to get involved. Their soup kitchen, community tables, and garden work-days are all options for volunteering either as a group or individually.

Roxbury Innovation Center – The RIC is a 501(c)3 and accepts donations to help fund this important public space in the heart of Roxbury.

Photo credits: TUGG