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By Allen Woods, MORTAR Executive Director

In recent years, I’ve grown to become more & more fond of jotting down my thoughts, goals, ideas, business concepts – everything. Some call it writing the vision to make it plain, others say it’s manifestation, intentionality, the Secret… whatever phrase works for you, roll with that. I have more random pieces of paper taped to the closet door of my home office than I care to count; all serving as constant reminders of who I want to be, what I want to create, where I want to go, and how I want MORTAR to grow.

This habit may have been sparked from developing the Strategic Plan for MORTAR a few years ago. We had several sessions where we gathered input from our staff, program participants, our board, advisors, and a consultant about the best ways to move forward with developing our mission, vision, and core values. Trust me, we wrote a lot down. Some of the ideas never made it out of that room, but many of them are now foundational pieces of MORTAR’s mission. The one that stands out to me the most is our core value of COMMUNITY.

In a nation that has somehow found even more ways to be divided, MORTAR is consistently working to make sure that we’re bringing people together. I love that we’ve often become matchmakers for true connections. Sometimes it’s the pairings of a middle-aged white man who serves as a SCORE mentor to a young black woman who’s just starting to pursue her dreams. Other times it’s an unlikely introduction of a Walnut Hills real estate developer with a MORTAR grad who wants to create a brewery in the neighborhood. Then there are the times when our alumni group has figured out ways to come together to create one space that houses all of their business entities just steps from the UC campus. I think about the times in my life when entrepreneurship has felt lonely… the times when I couldn’t find people to have real conversations with, the times when I didn’t have real community. 

I am thankful for the community that I’ve recently found. Thankful for the opportunity to be vulnerable. Thankful for the chance to listen. Thankful for the ability to give & receive advice. I am honored to be connected to a community that gives each of us space to pour into each other – even when our politics don’t align. 

That is something worth writing down, manifesting, speaking into existence – because none of us can do this life thing alone.

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