With the constant stream of negative headlines coming out of Chicago, the contributions of everyday citizens, particularly in urban areas, are over overlooked.  Chicago is not just the Windy City, the Second City, or “ChiRaq.” We are the City of Big Shoulders. We work hard.  We hustle.  We create and build businesses.  And yes, we also have dreams.

Hundreds of such dreamers assembled this past Saturday at Little Black Pearl in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, for the Dream Village Tour presented by American Family Insurance.  The Dream Village Tour is an extension of Dream Village- a DMV based co-working community that providesvisitors with access to the space and resources needed for working professionals and entrepreneurs to pursue their goals.

Founder Eunique Gibson

Created by Eunique Jones Gibson, founder of the “Because of Them We Can” movement, the Dream Village Tour is purposed to “provide resources, support and inspiration to pursue and grow the dreams of people across the country.”  Gibson’s motivation to start Dream Village came from her experience and entrepreneurial journey.   “One thing we realized through our travels is that a lot of people talked about their dreams and aspirations to follow in the footsteps of some of these great history makers, past, present and future, but also cited a lack of support and a lack of village or a lack of cohesiveness and a platform to build. And even in my own experience, some of the missteps and challenges that I faced came from a lack of me recognizing the importance of me tapping into my village as I pursued my dream.  And that inspired Dream Village,” Gibson shares.

The event was a thoughtfully curated community experience with small business pop-up shops, fun activities for kids and informative discussion sessions focused on the 3 primary tenets of the Dream Village: Dreams, Hustle and Village.

*Photo credit: B. Alyssa Trofort

Each session was comprised of a mix of movers, shakers and influencers in business, entertainment and the arts- all with connections to Chicago.  Among the panelists were writers/bloggers Luvvie Ayayi, Afrobella, and Melissa Kimble, entrepreneurs Chris-Tia Donaldson (Thank God I’m Natural) Quentin Love (Turkey Chop restaurant), Hajj Flemings (Rebrand Cities) and Little Black Pearl owner Monica Haslip.

Among the discussion takeaways:

“Know that everything matters.  Everything you do matters…. Don’t ever take the opportunity to just sit on the sidelines. The game is given to those who get involved.”-Telisa Yancy, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), American Family Insurance

“One of the misconception is the idea of “Do What You Love and You’ll never Work a Day in Your Life.  I hate that saying.  That is false.  When you do what you love you’ll work even harder.”-Luvvie Ayaji- Writer, Blogger

“Tell your truth.  People fall in love with the person, not the brand.  Be authentic”. –Rashidat Owe- Author and Holistic Lifestyle Expert

“Don’t underestimate the power of relationships.”-Drew- Founder of Enstrumental Brand

We spoke with Melissa Kimble, Founder of Black Creatives, who also weighed in on the importance of relationship building: “It’s really been key to me to just treat every relationship as an ideal relationship no matter who it is.  And genuinely build with people and care about what they’re working on.  It’s always come back to me,”  Kimble attested.

Finally, as dreams don’t happen without accountability, attendees were charged to take a pledge to their dream, share it with the digital dream village and hang it on the Dream Village pledge wall.

Beyond the excitement of the day, long- term community building is the mission of the Dream Village and its founder.   “My goal is to bring back village values and to create a space where people can pursue their dreams amongst people in their very own community.  And to know that feel and know that they’re supported, and if they’re successful, their village will benefit from their success.  And it’s to make sure that people know that there are people to your left and to your right, who are looking to help you.  And if we’re successful individually, we can also be successful as a community, if we recognize the importance of that community. So my goal is to create a platform where we can reconnect with one another,” states Gibson.

The importance of community building has long been discussed in Chicago.  Success truly does take a village.  Hopefully, the ideas shared will be a catalyst for us to not only pursue our individual dreams, but work together to bring along others as we build.  It’s actually easier that way.

Kids Coding Class *Photo Credit: B: Alyssa Trofort
Kids face painting
Photo by POSE by LCG
Marching Band Intro by Proviso West High School

The Dream Village Tour will also make stops in Madison, WI, Atlanta, GA and Los Angeles, CA.  Elements of the tour will also be featured across OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network platforms.  To find out more about the Dream Village Tour, visit www.dreamvillage.com

*Photos by Love Black Chicago except where noted.



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