Terri’s Taking A Sabbatical!

  • April 6, 2021
  • By: efireside
  • In: General

Big news for a big leader at Nexus! Terri Thao is taking a sabbatical! For the past 16 years, Terri has helped shape the organization with her vision, dedication, love, warmth, 80’s ringtones, and strong Virgo vibes.

For the next 3 months (April 12 – July 12), Terri will be taking time to reflect and rest. Ever the avid learner, Terri will be taking a deep dive into different governance models and tackling her ever-growing reading list, including Adrienne Maree Brown’s “We Will Not Cancel Us,” and Alexis Pauline Gumbs’ “The Undrowned.” She hopes to use writing as a creative outlet to express herself and to unpack what she has learned over her time in the leadership development field. In between the learning, Terri looks forward to doing sticker puzzles, spending time in nature, and getting out of her house!!

By taking a sabbatical, Terri not only hopes to come back renewed and rejuvenated, but also with a new sense of what is possible! She shared that “so much of the work is supporting others, but we can’t do that if we aren’t also being supported.” This time dedicated to herself and inward reflection will help her come back with a huge well to support others.

At Nexus, we know that people working hard for community, inside or outside of organizations, need and deserve time for themselves. As an organization, we believe in supporting our staff with ample time to rest and reinvest in the work. Expanding our wellness practices to include staff sabbaticals is aligned with our values of learning, reflection, and rest.

Learn more about Terri and her journey with Nexus

BCLI March 2021: Health Equity

  • April 6, 2021
  • By: efireside
  • In: General

Huge congratulations to graduates of our 8th BCLI Cohort! It is an honor to work with such powerful people who deeply believe in community leadership, accountability, and justice.

Leading up to graduation, the BCLI fellows took a deep dive into health equity. Antonia Wilcoxon, longtime community leader and former MN Dept of Human Services staff, shared her experiences about tackling institutional racism in health. Fellows learned so much from her experiences advocating with confidence for equity in a system as huge as the MDHS.

In their second March session, fellows got hands on experience in a simulated Planning Commission discussion. In this simulation, a fictional company was trying to develop a piece of land. While fellows debated the future of this parcel, they raised important issues and values at the intersections of health and environmental equity, economic development, and land use. Each fellow was able to practice using Robert’s Rules of Order, advocate for local hiring clauses, ask for environmental impact studies, and more. It was so engaging that the fellows asked for an additional simulation later this month!

Look out for some photos and stories from graduation next week! Until then, check out this health equity video from the BCLI curriculum: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56ZKfSNkcJc

At our last session, Mapping Prejudice set the context of racist and Anti-Black housing discrimination in the Twin Cities, while Angela Dawson of 40 Acre Coop showed us an alternative: Black cooperative ownership and land reclamation.

After learning more about racial covenants and the rigged rules that barred Black communities from building wealth, we had a vibrant discussion about what culturally-rooted home ownership can in Black communities. In the context of hundreds of years of oppression, focusing on the individual alone is not enough—we need a village of folks who rely on each other and work together.

Angela Dawson, President & CEO of 40 acre coop and 4th gen Midwest Farmer, shared a vision of cooperation. Existing and taking up space as a Black person in Rural Minnesota, in the white-dominated hemp industry, is challenging because many systems are not designed for us. However, 40 Acre Coop is thriving and relishing in the power of reclaiming ancestral knowledge and Black folks’ ties to the land, farming, growing, and plants—and making those opportunities accessible to other Black farmers in Minnesota and throughout the US.

On day 1 of the Chauvin Trial, we ground ourselves in powerful projects that invest in and nourish Black life and joy, like 40 Acre Coop. Justice is transformation and radically reimagining how our world can and should look. The courts will not and have never given that to us—community is building the future we need, now and always.  #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd

Justice for George Floyd

  • March 11, 2021
  • By: efireside
  • In: General

Art by Mr. Johnson Paints

As the trial of former MPD Officer Derek Chauvin gets underway, we anchor ourselves in our vision of a world where everyone has what they need, where we honor our responsibility for one another knowing that we are all connected, a world where we all feel safe. We know that for everyone to be safe, we must usher out the rigged rules, attitudes, and practices that concentrate wealth and power in ever fewer white hands.

Last summer, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, community demanded transformation, real safety, and investment in the resources that keeps us alive, not those that kill us. In response to our calls for justice, the police brutalized protestors, the national guard occupied our city and terrorized us on our doorsteps. And now, months later, government leaders have only gotten better at protecting themselves, mobilizing millions of dollars to put up barricades and deploy the national guard, the opposite of what Black, Indigenous, and POC communities have been asking for.

We protect us. The police do not. We know this truth deeply within our bodies and intergenerationally. While we hope for a fair trial for Chauvin, the legal system cannot provide the justice George Floyd deserves or the justice Black and Brown communities need.

At Nexus, we stand firmly with our communities, in rage, grief, and love, and in our collective power. We will keep doing our part to usher in ways of living, working, and making decisions together that will nourish communities now and into the future.

We need safety for everyone, now. Residents of Minneapolis can sign the people’s petition, a petition to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a new Department of Public of Safety. Learn more and find more places to sign here: https://yes4minneapolis.org.

Since Christina Nicholson joined the team last November, her energy, humor, and deep knowledge of cooperative economics have already made an impression. Christina is the Worker Ownership Initiative Program Manager, an Aquarius, and a talented quick-bread maker. We sat down over zoom to talk about her role, her journey to Nexus, and her hopes for the future.

Interview edited for length and clarity

What do you do at Nexus?

Everyday for me in the Worker Owner Initiative is a new learning experience! For example, through our role as a Minneapolis C-TAP provider (Cooperative Technical Assistance Program), I’m working with a small language-learning cooperative. We meet weekly to develop their new bylaws and articles, as well as helping them build their internal culture and their ecosystem of outside resources. Together, this foundation will help the cooperative grow and thrive once it’s established. I am also doing work as a financial analyst – looking at another business who is considering converting to a cooperative, and helping them understand how to create a fair sale price for the worker owners who are considering purchasing the business.

In general, I have found in business that people are disinvited from their own agency when it comes to the language of finance. In my new role, I have found that helping teams understand the technical side of things can help build a cooperative’s culture— this is exciting because it becomes a more empowering relationship. The goal for me is for the teams I serve to be able to say “We understand this model, we’re taking this model, and moving beyond it.”

What did you do before Nexus?

In my 25 year cooperative career I’ve done every job from front line bagging to leading whole organizations as a general manager. In 2019, I got my MBA to understand how current capital systems move, at a more technical level, to help people build the bridge between their work and their ability to claim their own agency.

I’ve learned that you are always a better leader if you are doing the work with people. Successful leaders aren’t only thinking about the work, or visioning, but they are IN it. My work has been about leading on the ground and being influenced by those around me. Cooperatives help foster that environment and give you a sense that you are truly interdependent in the work you do.

What do you hope to learn next year?

I want to learn how to support people’s health, agency and wellbeing while seeing them move away from conventional, white supremacist, capitalist models of business. As more people from historically marginalized communities continue to grow in their power, I am energized to see how their cultural and individual gifts will shape the future of cooperatives!

What do you like to do outside of work?

I love to cook, and I always overplant kale in my garden. We have a LOT of recipes for raw kale salads. Thankfully, my daughter appreciates the earthiness. I also love to travel—I love oceans and mountains, but I am the happiest when I get to spend time with my wife and a good book!

Mar 2021: The Practice of Co-Governance

Watch the Issue Series Here!


“Freedom is not a secret. It is a practice” – Alexis Pauline Gumbs

As we think about this practice of democracy, how have Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities done the work of co-governing at different government levels? Where are examples and values from our communities we can bring to disrupt cycles and operationalize racial equity? Come hear from current leaders about their experience at state and local levels and from a leading governance organization, the Native Governance Center about how they have done this work. What can BIPOC communities do to affect policies where you live? Please join us to explore the many ways we all can make an impact!

RSVP Today!

Goals for the Evening

• Listen to learnings from how Native Nations have practiced governance models and trained leaders in this work
• Hear from current BIPOC leaders about representing communities and creating policy to address racial disparities
• Build community

Agenda 6 – 8 PM

Welcome & Virtual Agreement
Ice Breaker – Zoom poll


Ana Vergara, Vice Chair, MN Council of Latino Affairs & BCLI Alumni cohort 7, 2019-2020
Adrian Perryman, Member of the St. Paul Planning Commission
Wayne Ducheneaux, Executive Director, Native Governance Center

TBLMF Round 1 Grantees

  • February 4, 2021
  • By: efireside
  • In: General

(Originally Published Here)

December 2020
Dear Community, 

In August 2020, we partnered with Black Visions to launch the Transformative Black-led Movement Fund (TBLMF). The goal of the TBLMF is to transparently and efficiently resource Black-led organizations and Black individuals in the Twin Cities. This fund was originally allocated $3.1 million, however through adaptation to clear need, it received an additional $2 million to let us invest in more community-led safety strategies now.

As of December 2020, TBLMF has given out $1.1M to individuals for mutual aid, covering rent, health care, school supplies and more. Additionally, TBLMF has awarded $2 million in grants to 68 organizations, collectives, artists, healers, organizers and more. Grantees, listed below, are responding to the political and cultural opportunity to defund police and are beginning the process of developing and implementing a shared vision of community-led safety. The TBLMF will distribute the remaining $2M in funding in the next round of grantmaking—look for these results on Nexus’ website in early 2021. 

A committee of trusted, experienced, and diverse Black community members (who are youth, LGBTQ, artists, community organizers, healers, and elders) made these decisions by ranking and voting after extensive discussion and review. 

It has been incredibly impactful to be able to learn about the all of the powerful and transformative work Black folks in the Twin Cities are doing. Right now, it is vital to be able to fund the work that Black folks are leading to develop and realize a shared vision of community-led safety for everyone. This funding is just a step towards building the future we need. We will keep building on this energy and on this moment together to create the world we need. Thank you.

The TBLMF Committee Members are Abena Abraham, Rox Anderson, Quincy Ballard, D.A Bullock, Adrienne Doyle, Tana Hargest, Janis Lane-Ewart, Denaisha Motley, Nekessa Opoti, Jason Sole and Tia Williams.

Please reach out to us at TBLMF@nexuscp.org with questions or concerns. 


Transformative and Healing Justice
30,000 Feet
Aisha Wadud+
Black Women Speak
Caafimaad Collective
Irreducible Grace Foundation
Kitana Holland+
Mankwe Ndosi+
Marcie Rendon+
Nykia Bible-Mrsich+
Restoration for All, Inc.
ROHO Collective
Root to Crown Healing & Wellness
The Subversive Sirens
Thomas Collins+
until we are all free

Economic and Cultural Justice
Abisola Jaiyesimi
Build Cooperative
Feven Ayana+
Joi Unlimited
Midwest Farmers of Color Collective
Open Road Solutions
Project DIVA
Shekinah Housing Services
SIR Boxing Club
Yordanose Solomone+

Organizing for a New Future
40 Acre Co-op
YO MAMA’S HOUSE Cooperative
Anika Bowie+
Awood Center
Black Family Blueprint
Black Market
Black Table Arts
BLCK Press
Britt Jackson+
Chauntyll Allen +
Cristalle Bowen+
Danielle Swift+
Elizabeth Bryant+
Free Black Dirt
Frogtown Tuned-In
Imhotep Science Academy
In Black Ink
KWST Behavioral Development Group
Lewis McCaleb +
MidWest Mixed
MN African American Heritage Museum and Gallery
New Justice Project MN
Nicole M. Smith+
Planting People Growing Justice Leadership Institute
Roxxanne O’Brien+
SocialWise Media Group
St. Paul Youth Services
Tangible Collective
Teighlor McGee+
The Agape Movement
Twin Cities Media Alliance
We IMPACT! and Morning Glory Montessori
WE WIN Institute, Inc.

Mutual Aid
Cocoa Butta Futures of the SPIRAL Collective

This November, the Worker Owner Initiative, a part of Nexus Community Partners, officially became a technical assistance provider with the City of Minneapolis’ Cooperative Technical Assistance Program (C-TAP).

In this role, we help business owners with succession planning, share information on forming a cooperative business or refining a cooperative business model, and more. The Nexus Worker Ownership Initiative (WOI) team specializes in exploring the benefits of employee-owned business models for restructuring or as an exit strategy.

This information and training is provided free of charge, with costs covered by the City of Minneapolis. For more information on ways that WOI can support your organization, please reach out to the WOI at btsai@nexuscp.org or cnicholson@nexuscp.org, or visit us at here.


Learn more about C-TAP below (excerpted from City of Minneapolis):

City of Minneapolis B-TAP | C-TAP Program

In 2016, the City of Minneapolis expanded its Business Technical Assistance Program (B-TAP) to include services aimed at supporting the development of new Minneapolis co-operatives by launching the Co-operative Technical Assistance Program (C-TAP).

The City desires to leverage the co-op model for maximum community benefit to:

    • Act as an economic development tool to reduce poverty and promote social cohesion.­
    • Increase racial and ethnic diversity, and community ownership.
    • Support innovation, community building, and local investment by encouraging a more collaborative business model.

The North Star Black Cooperative Fellowship (NSBCF) has extended it’s deadline for applications to Friday, November 27th. You can find the application to apply here.

Also, the North Star Information Session zoom recording and the powerpoint presentation are both now available.NorthStar2021InfoSessionPPT  If you have questions regarding the North Star 2021 Fellowship please feel free to reach out to Nkuli Shongwe Nshongwe@nexuscp.org or Danielle Mkali at dmkali@nexuscp.org

Centering Our Values: The 2020 Election

  • November 3, 2020
  • By: efireside
  • In: General

In who we are and through what we do, Nexus Community Partners builds engaged and powerful communities so that each and every person can flourish in a joyful and abundant life. For this to be possible, we must usher out the rigged rules, attitudes, and practices that concentrate wealth and power in fewer and whiter hands, and usher in ways of living, working, and making decisions together that nourish communities for this generation and generations to come.

Because we are living in historic times, through a pandemic, and in the midst of a volatile election season, we wanted to take the time to affirm a few things.

Each of us has a voice, and each of us contributes to the fabric of our communities. Whether we are Black or white, Asian or Latinx, Indigenous or immigrant, this moment shows us that now, more than ever, every one of our voices deserves to be counted. This election season has brought voter suppression tactics the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Jim Crow era — ranging from reducing polling access in predominantly Black, brown, indigenous and immigrant zip codes, to politicians encouraging outright intimidation from white supremacist militias in an attempt to scare us from exercising our vote. But the only reason they try to suppress our voices is because they know that together, we’re powerful. And we demonstrated our power by showing up to the polls in record numbers. 

But our power has always extended beyond the ballot box. Election season or not, pandemic or not, we’ve counted on one another to care for our loved ones, make ends meet, and make a better future. No matter who is elected, there is nothing that will stop the work that we and countless others have been doing and will continue to do long after all the ballots have been counted. 

At Nexus Community Partners, we work toward a future where…

the places and spaces we share allow us to explore and express the depths of who we are – celebrating our joys, and healing our pains.

We honor our responsibility for each other, knowing that we are all connected – what affects one person or community, affects another. So, we first make sure that each and every person has their essential needs met, and we grow from there. That’s just what makes sense.

We nurture the prosperity of our communities – and in this prosperity, our health, joy, peace, love, safety and the needs of future generations come first. We foster our relationships with each other and with the land, and work cooperatively to cultivate and share this prosperity in our communities. 

We relish our distinctive cultural practices, traditions and needs. For our world to work, we all need each other. When we nourish each of our unique contributions, our world is a better, more interesting place, and we are more powerful together. 

When we make decisions that affect all of our lives, we share the power in making those decisions. We create and maintain processes of collective decision making that ensure that power continues to be informed by all of us, and the structures we use to make decisions actively repair and heal the harm from hyper-individualistic white supremacist structures. 

We repair and heal our individual and collective trauma, knowing those are interconnected. Each person gets to heal on their own terms, and collectively we confront oppressive systems that get in our way. We honor the trauma and resilience of generations that came before us.*

We count on each other. Whatever the outcome of this election, Nexus Community Partners will keep striving for the world that we all want and need.

Look at the statement here.


* Adapted from Young Women’s Empowerment Project and the Chicago Healing Justice Learning Circle by way of Fumbling Towards Repair: A Workbook for Community Accountability Facilitators