Drylongso Award 2023

Reflecting on Drylongso 2023

Two weeks ago, the CCI community came together for our first large-scale event since 2019 - the 2023 Drylongso: Anti-Racism Leadership Awards.

For those not able to attend, you were greatly missed, and I will do my best to paint a portrait of the event for you through my words, as a first time Drylongso supporter and attendee.

What a marvelous event it was! 120+ guests, staff, board members, community members, keynote speakers, and awardees came together to celebrate and honor the local work of Black women in the Community Change Inc ecosystem.

Taking place at Garage B in Allston, Massachusetts, we had a spacious location that allowed for easeful movement in and out with the airy, nighttime breeze flowing through us on a beautiful, clear-skied evening in the city.

Sandwiches and bowls from Bon Me, fruit-covered waffles from Zinneken's, and mobile drinks from Bubbles & Brews created a perfect ambiance for connection with happy minds and satisfied bellies.

As more and more community arrived, the place was alive with joyous chatter. Many attendees described to me that Drylongso was a coming home, a reunion, a place to reconnect in community; that energy felt real.

As the food, drink, and connective conversation continued, a hush pushed through the crowd, and the shuffle to the tables ensued as the program began.

Shay Stewart-Bouley, Executive Director of Community Change Inc, opened and framed the evening, sharing vulnerably about her experience as a black woman in this work, and how the labor - physical, emotional, and intellectual - of black women has often gone unseen in our greater movements for justice. While that trend may be changing, she wanted to take this opportunity to give credit where credit was due.

Thus, ensued a magnificent program of honor, celebration, respect and reverence for the black women chosen to be awarded for their leadership, courage, and commitment to the work for racial justice.

In a space of 15+ tables, adorned with white sheets and vibrant flowers, occupied by the beautiful multi-racial community of support and witness, the stand reverberated with the words of wisdom and love of the keynote speakers and awardees -

Rev. Manikka Bowman, Councilor Kendra Lara, Mayor Kim Janey, Lavette Coney, Dr. Lillie Albert, Rev. Irene Monroe, and Sashi James.

keynote: Mayor Kim Janey | photo credit: @donwestfoto

keynote: Rev. Irene Monroe | photo credit: @donwestfoto

awardees: Lavette Coney & Dr. Lillie Albert

One after another, the power and commitment of these black women shone through in their presence, in their words, and in the community focus and applause. The speakers' influence was palpable and the room was transformed.

Before our last awardee, Paul Marcus, former ED of CCI, shared some heartfelt words about his time in relationship with Community Change Inc, and he expressed the need to continue our mission in the years to come. He called on the community to take in the beauty and vision being watered here today, and asked humbly for the financial support for those willing and able to seed that vision further. CCI is small and mighty, having vast impacts, and deeply needs each of our support to continue.

Make a Donation to the Future Here

We ended the night with our last awardee, Resources for Organizing & Social Change (ROSC), an organization in Maine that has and continues to embody true solidarity with black women. For over a decade they have been supporting black women-led organizations through fiscal sponsorship at no cost, as well as managing many other projects to support and resource the most marginalized in the state. It was a fitting end to a program led by an organization like CCI committed to guiding white folks to breaking the ranks of white supremacy, and reclaiming their humanity in right relationship with the movements for justice.

awardees: Sass Borodkin & Sett Vincent of

Resources for Organizing & Social Change

The night ended in what I perceived to be a collective state of reverie. It was a moment of relief, recharge, and collective care. We came together for a night to remember who we are, and why we care so much. A brief respite from the mountainous work ahead of us.

I personally left the event filled with life, feeling invigorated, and ready to continue the work forward. I hope and believe many others felt the same.

As we look forward, there is plenty more work to do, and CCI is ready to take on what challenges lie ahead. Will you stay with us in building the future of CCI, and thus the future of racial justice work in our region?

If so, reach out, become a monthly sustainer, and be part of the future. We are ready to take action, and we want you with us.

From our point-of-view, Drylongso was a huge success, and after all these years, we are just getting started. Stay tuned!