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Donna Moodie Says It Takes More Than a Plaque to Make a Community

Most Seattleites know Donna Moodie as the owner of the popular restaurant Marjorie, named for her mother. Moodie learned early on that a good meal can build a strong and loving community, and that's been central to her life as a restaurateur.


But Donna Moodie is more than a chef and entrepreneur; she's an effective community advocate, serving on the boards of a number of Seattle-area non-profit organizations, and lending a catering hand to fundraisers around the community.


"We've gotten to a point in our society where someone puts up a plaque and this is an area where something happened. I learned early on we have to make a very conscious effort if we want more than a plaque that says 'Black people used to own this area.'" -- Donna Moodie

During the pandemic, Moodie decided it was time to expand her vision; she's now the Executive Vice President of Community Roots Housing, helping forge partnerships to build affordable housing, as well as the Executive Director of Capitol Hill Ecodistrict, an organization working alongside Community Roots Housing to ensure that community priorities are reflected in the many significant developments changing the neighborhood.


Vivian and Marcie talked to Donna about her current work, the lessons she learned from her Jamaican immigrant mother, and what kind of community she wants to help foster and sustain in Seattle's Central Area.



Donna Moodie, courtesy of the guest

 

ABOUT THIS EPISODE'S GUEST


Donna Moodie was born in Jamaica, raised in Chicago, and has now been a resident of Seattle for over 20 years. She is well acquainted with the interconnectedness of social justice, community building, and neighborhood activism. Her passion for service and bringing communities together presents itself in both her work with Community Roots Housing and Marjorie Restaurant.


Moodie opened Marjorie 17 years ago. Marjorie, named after Moodie’s mother, is a tribute to her love for entertaining and cooking. Moodie divides her time between running the restaurant and being the executive director of the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict initiative through Community Roots Housing, which works to improve sustainability and environmental health in the neighborhood.


Moodie co-chairs the Mayor’s Small Business Advisory Council, participates in the Central Area Land Use Review Committee, and serves on the Seattle Center Advisory Commission. She was a founding board member of the Capitol Hill Housing Foundation, chaired the Central District Forum for Arts and Ideas Board, and now serves as a board member for Grist. As a consultant, Moodie has advised food business startups and architects on diversity and inclusion. Moodie became executive director of the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict at Community Roots in January 2020.


Make a reservation at Moodie's restaurant, Marjorie here

Learn more about the work of Community Roots Housing here

Learn about Capitol Hill EcoDistrict here

 

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (00:00):

Hey, I'm Vivian Phillips.


MARCIE SILLMAN (00:01):

And I'm Marcie Sillman. And, and this is Double


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (00:05):

Double


MARCIE SILLMAN (00:06):

Exposure


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (00:07):

<laugh> DoubleXposure is a podcast where we plumb the deepest depths and the tiniest cracks of our world to understand how culture and creativity shape our lives.


MARCIE SILLMAN (00:27):

On this episode, restaurateur and community activist Donna Moodie on the power of people coming together.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (00:44):

Well, hello, Marcie Sillman. How are you?


MARCIE SILLMAN (00:47):

Vivian Phillips, I'm happy because I'm looking at your lovely face, which always makes me happy. And I'm thinking about the fact that while I have very mixed feelings about the month of December and the holiday season, the thing that I love is that there are so many opportunities to celebrate with art and artists. And one of those is Donald Bird's Harlem Nutcracker, which I hope is in its final workshop, right, stage. It's just a lovely opportunity to celebrate. There's also The Wiz at the Fifth Avenue Theater, which I have yet to see, but has gotten rave reviews.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (01:24):

Same here. I am going to see the Harlem Nutcracker this evening as we are recording <laugh> and intend to get myself to The Wiz. You know, I've just been so busy. I haven't had a chance to actually schedule the holiday offerings into my life, but I intend to do that. Absolutely.


MARCIE SILLMAN (01:45):

I think that's one of the highlights of the season. If we did everything there is to do, I don't think we'd ever sleep in the month of December.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (01:53):

Well, that could be okay. <laugh>. <laugh>. That could be okay. <laugh>.


MARCIE SILLMAN (01:58):

Well, that reminds me of the conversation that's coming up, which does involve a lot of fun and some not sleeping later in the conversation. We are talking about holiday stuff cuz it makes me think about joy and the conversation that you're about to listen to with the amazing Donna Moodie made me so darn happy after it. I just felt like it's very cloudy and gray in Seattle right now, and I just felt like she was the sun.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (02:27):

Donna is quite radiant in every way, and I think talking with her for me, made me grateful, first and foremost that I can call her a friend. I'm very grateful about that. But it also reminded me of the ways in which there are entities, organizations, that are working towards accomplishing various city goals. And even though we are focused on a particular neighborhood in this particular segment of our, our series, um, I think every neighborhood that we've gone to has been illustrative of the ways in which the private sector has stepped up to partner with the city in accomplishing really important goals for the communities.


MARCIE SILLMAN (03:19):

A lot of people probably know Donna, as I did, as the longtime owner of the wonderful restaurant, Marjorie, and soon to be a wine bar owner in the Midtown Square Complex where ARTE NOIR is located. So, she'll be your friend and neighbor and place to go have a glass of wine. But Donna is, uh, also leading, uh, community housing, public-private partnership. And one of the things that really struck me, we caught up with her just by the way, because this woman is so busy. We grabbed her as she came out of I think a meeting with the Chamber of Commerce or some such organization. So you hear the clinking of a bus person clearing the table. But one of the things I thought about was leadership in listening to her and what makes a good leader. And I, I think a lot of it is just the ability to think big, to dream big.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (04:13):

And to be passionate and to have that heart for the work that she's doing, as well as being incredibly intuitive about ways to approach the assignments that she's working towards. So I think that we're going to our listeners, I know the two of us have had a lot of, you know, kind of reflection from this conversation. I hope our listeners do too.


Well today. I am so happy to welcome my dear friend Donna Moodie to doubleXposure. And as a course of full disclosure, Donna serves on the Board of ARTE NOIR, which is an organization that I happen to also serve on and founded along with, uh, a number of other nonprofits to which Donna is committed. Welcome, my dear friend.


DONNA MOODIE (05:08):

Thank you. It's a pleasure to be with you.


MARCIE SILLMAN (05:10):

Donna, in doing some research about you, I realize that along with Vivian, you're probably one of the busiest human beings in the City of Seattle. I know you own a restaurant, Marjorie, which is how I first knew of you, which I always thought of as a full-time job, but apparently not. You are so involved in the community, as Vivian mentioned, and I'm particularly interested in your actual full-time job, your work with Community Roots Housing and the Eco District, which I know is a pretty huge topic. And I was thinking maybe we should first start with you telling us what Community Roots and the Eco District actually are.


DONNA MOODIE (05:49):

Community Roots Housing is an organization, it's actually a PDA, so it's a public development, uh, authority through the City of Seattle. And it basically creates and manages and maintains affordable housing. Our focus is folks that are kind of within the 30 to 80% AMI, which is the, uh, average medium income of the city. That's how numbers are created. And our focus is basically building housing that's affordable, that helps to offset, um, it doesn't completely end but offset some of the displacement and gentrification we see going in vibrant neighborhoods that are becoming unaffordable for folks. And so a big effort that we make is to build housing that doesn't, uh, look like it's affordable housing but blends right into communities. And we try to offer it to people so that there can be mixed-income housing within those uh, neighborhoods.


MARCIE SILLMAN (06:42):

And so the Eco District is part of Community Roots?


DONNA MOODIE (06:46):

Yeah, the Eco District is, um, something that was started about 12 years ago. It is a department of Community Roots Housing and it was basically started at the announcement that there would be a, uh, light rail transit station in Capitol Hill. And a big part of the focus for creating the EcoDistrict was to use that opportunity to try to create and build a greater environmental sustainability, create a little bit more community involvement and several groups participated, uh, the champion as a big participant, but a big effort was made to make sure that all of the housing, there wasn't only market rate housing, but that there was some affordability and also some community amenities that would be placed in that area. And also just an eye on improving the community. The big plaza that's right across from the light rail station and the fact that it's a Plaza Street now on Denny Way are two of the big wins of both community roots housing in the champion group.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (07:44):

Now, one of the things I do know about community Roots housing is that it partners with other organizations to accomplish equitable and affordable housing. What is the connection in your view, Donna, between that equitable housing, affordable housing, cultural and community vibrancy? How do all of those things kind of work together?


DONNA MOODIE (08:06):

So first of all, I have to say I love that question. Um, I think it's really important for a lot of people to realize that, you know, when you develop a property, you're not just working with the community that you're in. You're not just working with the building process that you're doing, but you're also working with a lot of investors. Um, you're working with a lot of entities that run very traditional methods of development. So many of them are not interested in working with a first-time developer. They're often not interested in working with community developers. There's definitely a trend for that now, but they still want like, some kind of guarantee or guarantor. So a lot of our process has been partnering with different organizations doing a project together. We usually start off as a 51% owner of that project and then slipping into a concurrent, uh, project that might be 49% us 51% them, with the goal long term that maybe the next project will just be a consultant and still offering like that support and working with them. But you know, for many of the projects that we do in community, the project might not get done were it not for having, uh, kind of name recognize the established, uh, developer, community developer as part of the project.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (09:17):

One of the primary reasons that I bring that up has to do with the fact that we've been focusing on the Central District in this particular series. And one of the kind of keystone developments in the central district is the Liberty Bank building, which is affordable housing that was done with Africatown Land Trust is community roots housing, also a partner in the Africatown development that's going up between 23rd and 24th on Spring Street.


DONNA MOODIE (09:47):

Um, we are a partner in that project. And I also wanna mention that the Liberty Bank building is a three-way partnership also including, uh, the Bird Bar Place.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (09:55):

Bird Bar Place, right.


MARCIE SILLMAN (09:56):

I know that you've had this job pretty much the entire time the pandemic has been happening. Yeah. And I'm curious, clearly you were involved in community work before the pandemic happened. I would like you to talk a little bit more about how it relates, if at all, to your many years as a restaurateur and what was the logical path that you went from being somebody who made community in the businesses you own to doing this larger work?


DONNA MOODIE (10:26):

There's a couple of ways I can answer that. One is, I can start with the fact that, you know, every year I try to make a New Year's resolution. It's usually a very big goal, lofty, something that I might not accomplish until the end of the year. In 2019, I decided that the restaurant was about 12 years old. It seemed to be running pretty well. I felt that it could, I hate to say run itself for a small business because they never do. But I felt that it could run independent of me being there, you know, with a 60-hour work week. But maybe I could go to some admin and some, um, like evening presence, maybe not always actively on the floor, but at least being there to greet guests, maybe having meetings there. And so I started to look for work and I thought that it would be interesting to try kind of social corporate work.


DONNA MOODIE (11:10):

Something where I was working within either an organization or a company, but doing work that was in community and felt like it had a passion and a mission in my opinion. I was looking pretty broad and wide and noticed that the EcoDistrict was hiring and thought that might be an interesting position to look into. I ended up actually having a meeting with Chris Persons, the CEO of Community Groups Housing. And when I had that meeting, I actually had a community question for him. So we had a, you know, one hour coffee meeting and at the end of that meeting I said, you know, I was just wondering about this job that I saw listed. His eyes lit up and he was like, you would wanna think about working for us? And I was like, actually, I'd like to know more. We ended up talking for another two hours mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And he now tells me he went back to the office and said to everyone, the restaurant lady wants to work for us, <laugh>,


DONNA MOODIE (12:01):

<laugh> and a few different departments were like, no, we want her in our department, we want her an our department. So I felt like I came on board with people that were ready to think out of the box. I don't have an urban planning degree, I don't have, you know, environmental studies degree, but I feel really passionate about those things and felt like a lot of that is relationship building, community building and learning, which is always fun to do. And then Chris and I both discovered that the restaurant affiliation was actually a great asset for not just my department, but the organization and the work that we were doing. The first thing out of the pandemic was our community kitchen project that we did. And that seemed to benefit so immensely from having someone with a restaurant background run it. In fact, I was so worried about having anything appear unethical that I decided not to participate as a restaurant, but found out that we needed to have a distributing center. So we got all the food delivered to Marjorie, we distributed all the bags, made the deliveries from Marjorie, and then I invited people back at the end of, uh, whole process of volunteering to have drinks on our patio and just kind of have a little bit of communion together. Because one thing that we were all missing was personal contact. So we would sit outside at, you know, separate tables and talk about kind of the joy of volunteering and that brought so much sanity to so many people.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (13:26):

You know, Donna, you are an expert, I would say, in bringing people together and creating an environment for folk. In fact, you know, I was at the Urban League breakfast the other morning and no, that had Magic Irvin Johnson, that's how you say his name. <laugh> as the special guest. And Michelle Maryweather, the executive director and her thank yous said, thank you to my Marjorie family. You know who you are. <laugh>, right? <laugh>. Um, and I thought that was extraordinary. But obviously food is your business and like I said, I know firsthand what an expert you are at bringing people together, making food, kind of the centerpiece. And, and you've done that in your dinner parties. What do you think it is that people don't really take into account when they gather together for meals, either in a restaurant or in someone's home and how that really plays a strong role in community building?


DONNA MOODIE (14:29):

I don't know that everyone doesn't get it, but I think many people don't understand how creating a meal when it's done from the heart is really an act of love. Yeah. And gathering people is a very deliberate, intentional choice. Having people sit around the table and kind of dreaming or hoping for what kind of conversation might be the outcome or what kind of of solutions, because so many times we gather to address a problem and talk and maybe find out that we're not as opposed to each other as we thought we were, or we find out that we have similarities or, you know, sometimes I have to bring you up, Vivian, we find a treasured friend that, you know, maybe we'd connected with. But it wasn't until we shared a meal and laughed until tears rolled down our face that we realized like our connection was much deeper than we thought.


DONNA MOODIE (15:20):

And I just think sometimes when you're having food, and yes it's true, sometimes drink is involved with it, but we all just, we kind of forget the barriers that brought us together and we sit down at the table and we loosen up and we start talking to each other and we learn and we share and we grow and hopefully we build something that we wanna keep repeating. I've seen that with my Marjorie family as you finally refer to them as, I've seen it with the salon that I'm a part of. And I just feel like I'm continually finding people that love food, but at the end of the experience, they're not talking about the meal they had, they're talking about the conversation, the friendship, the inspiration. Cuz so often we inspire each other to do other things or to grow or to learn to share, explore and, and meet again.


MARCIE SILLMAN (16:23):

Our conversation with Donna Moodie continues after this break.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (16:27):

Our music is courtesy of Big World Breaks. Many thanks.


MARCIE SILLMAN (16:31):

And this year we welcome our sponsor, LANGSTON, cultivating Black Brilliance from their home at Seattle's Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute in the historic Central District.


Donna, I have to go back into your past because Marjorie's named after your mother Marjorie. Yes. And I feel like from everything I've read and heard about you, that maybe the basis of everything you do comes from her relationship to feeding people and bringing people into your home.


DONNA MOODIE (17:15):

I think that's very accurate. And I think in so many ways it was, you know, being an immigrant family, moving from Jamaica to Chicago, finding somewhat a chilly reception in some ways and in some ways a warm reception. And my mom just immediately started doing what she did in Jamaica, which was spontaneous dinner parties. She was happy to do the cooking, she didn't care how many place settings we had, as long as we had enough space for people to grab a plate, sit on the floor and stay until 2:00 AM listening to music, eating dinner, talking, chatting, sometimes dancing. And it was just always spontaneous and never planned. And when you think about the way catering happens today, or fancy restaurants, my mom would research a recipe, cook something really incredible and just invite a bunch of people over. And all of a sudden we'd have 20 people in our south side bungalow and drinks, dancing, records, jazz, and 2:00 AM in the morning, everyone was getting ready to leave some of the guests on the guest list, my mother had just met, you know, at the bank teller line or something like that, or at the grocery store. I mean, my mom was renowned for welcoming people and I tried to inspire myself to do that while sometimes keeping groups limited so that they feel intimate.


MARCIE SILLMAN (18:36):

Actually, I've heard about your dinner parties and I hear they, I was gonna say, I hear they don't end until two. I hear they end quite a bit later than 2:00 AM Donna, or maybe earlier the next day.


DONNA MOODIE (18:47):

Yeah, two o'clock could be an early one in my book. And I Yeah, I was gonna say.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (18:52):

Yeah, 2:00 AM I've seen sunrise when I was leaving your apartment.


DONNA MOODIE (18:56):

<laugh>. I, I do have to say like, when you get a group of people together and they click and the conversation's going, the food's going. Yeah. You know, in my book, there's no limit to when it's over. It's, it's not a finite time, like dinner's from six till 10, you know, it's like dinner's, dinner's, dinner until it's over, until we're done talking and until we make a plan for the next one.


MARCIE SILLMAN (19:18):

It's so interesting to me this conversation with you because I feel like it's a, a braid with more than three strands in it. We're talking about your work building affordable housing that is not, you know, some big block house sitting on the corner, like a big project. But something that blends that idea of community, that idea of neighborhood, how community was fostered by your mom in, in your house. And this is something that, that Vivian and I have been exploring this season, actually last season too, on the podcast, that intersection of culture and community and sustainability and identity. And we've been looking at it through neighborhoods. The Central Area is our last destination. And so beyond the work that you're doing, specifically when you look at that neighborhood, what role do you see cultural institutions or ventures playing in, in sustaining the Central Area itself? The identity of the Central Area?


DONNA MOODIE (20:21):

You know, I think of a lot of things for me that preserve an area. One thing that always really distinctly stands out in my mind is I remember going to Canada one year, it was Black History Month and I wanted to take my son. We tried to do just one kind of big thing every Black History Month. And I took him up to Canada to hear a speaker from Salt Sping Island talking about the large black community that used to be present in Salt Spring Island and also in parts of Vancouver. And in fact they have a really deep, rich history of Black building and Black foundation and not very many people know very much about it. And this woman basically said, you know, we've gotten to a point in our society where if someone puts up a plaque and says, you know, this was an area where things happened, that that's enough.


DONNA MOODIE (21:12):

And so we go through the Central District, we go through, you know, the jazz district and we see like a little sign that says like, this is where the jazz music was played. And I learned early on that we need much more than that, you know, and I look at what's happening in the Central District right now with Black ownership coming back to that area. Vivian makes jokes about she's got me on her board or I'm a supporter, but you know, I'm not just a supporter because she's my friend, I'm a supporter because I feel like we need to mark that area. We need to preserve it and make it known that art was created there. And it can be, again, with support from someone that's doing more than just curating or purchasing art, but actually supporting the artists. You know, when you see some of the businesses coming back into the neighborhood, they can do it on their own.


DONNA MOODIE (22:00):

They need support from the community. They need support from the city, from you know, state levels, from people who have often overlooked the investment that the Black community continually makes in themselves without getting support from outside communities. Like for those things to exist, we have to make a very, very conscious effort if we wanna end up with a city that has more than a plaque that says Black people used to own this area. And I think that for me is where my commitment comes from. And I look at the joy that people take both black, white, and you know, many different ethnic backgrounds in supporting these businesses because they all know that you can't have a city that feels monolithic and that doesn't have diversity so that people can experience the cultures of other groups of people. Like what makes the fabric of the city interesting is when it's woven with a collection of the stories and the experiences of the entire population.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (22:57):

And as a restaurateur, where do you see yourself in this whole reclamation of the Black community? I mean, Marjorie is on 14th and Union that has become more of a Capitol Hill identity than the Central Area. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, when I grew up in the community, you know, the Central Area went all the way to 14th. But where do you see yourself, Donna, as a restaurateur in this community reclamation in the central district in the future?


DONNA MOODIE (23:32):

So for me, I always think of the current Marjorie as being in the Central District, even though everyone calls it Capitol Hill myself sometimes as well. And I think it's so interesting how the trends have come, like, you know, before realtors were saying Capitol Hill went all the way up to 23rd and Union <laugh>, and now everyone is claiming that as a Central District. I have for a very long time really appreciated the, um, Midtown Square project on many levels. You know, my first level as a community activist being a part of the lurk group that was reviewing their plans and asking for, you know, more amenities, more um, art, more inclusion. And I think they'd be, we met at a couple of different meetings even asking that instead of a drugstore on the corner, they have something of impact of art, of humanity that would, you know, like anchor the neighborhood. And so when I saw the process continuing, I didn't think the timing would work out. I really wanted to be a part of it mm-hmm. <affirmative>, but as it turns out, I uh, will officially be a part of it as I just signed a lease for a little wine bar space in the back corner of the Square on 23rd and Union. And I'm really excited about many things. One of them being to have the honor and privilege of being your neighbor Vivian. So..


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (24:50):

I can't wait. Yeah, I can't wait. I cannot wait. I was gonna say, you know, Donna Moodie is not just my friend, she is also my neighbor and what I consider to be a very valued strategic partner. So thank you. Awesome.


MARCIE SILLMAN (25:05):

One of the things that's so interesting to me, Donna, is that you used the word preservation, but I feel like what's happening preservation almost seems static and that what's happening is much more dynamic than preserving an identity. It's like CPR for the neighborhood and it's really Yeah. Breathing an exciting life. I went to the ARTE NOIR opening and across the street Communion is so busy that I'm sure that everybody who wants to eat there cannot get in the building itself, Midtown Square, which I keep saying sort of, if people haven't gone there who are listening to this podcast, they must not actually really be conscious in the world because it's so beautiful. Just as a, a sight to see the structure is a work of art, let alone the inhabitants of it. So it feels like more than preservation.


DONNA MOODIE (25:58):

I so agree with that because as you say that, I was thinking to myself in some ways it's like a de-gentrification process and we might not be able to bring the people back because many of them have aged out, have moved onto home ownership on the in South King County and are no longer in the city or interested in coming back. But we can bring businesses back and we can bring some art and some life back to breathe something into that community that is more than just these seven story buildings that house tech, um, populations. And that is nothing against the tech populations because we need them for our city to thrive. It's nothing against, you know, the, the increased income of people that inhabit that neighborhood. But there is something about a loss, and grieving that loss and knowing that we can't fully get it back, but are able to bring businesses back that show what potential existed there and how important it's for the Black community and, you know, in communities of color, but to see role models that are in ownership of their businesses that are thriving and prioritizing, um, accommodating and role modeling and mentoring our communities.


DONNA MOODIE (27:14):

So I think there's a lot going on there that is, you're right, so much more than preservation and um, it's a seed for a, an incredible potential for growth.


MARCIE SILLMAN (27:24):

I don't know, Vivian, if you remember, I interviewed you in my old job as a radio reporter about Langston Hughes. I was doing a story about Langston in the building and you talked to me about maybe people had moved away, but you talked about how important it was to have a sort of spiritual home, a center that people could identify with. And now it feels like that's there, but that it's, we're in this time where it's more than spiritual home that we're seeing in the neighborhood that we're, we're really seeing an investment. Some of it is public investment, some of it is public-private investment, some of it is private investment in growing wealth and growing Black businesses and re-establishing. So it's, maybe it's breathing life, but it also, it feels more than spiritual, I guess is what I'm saying.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (28:14):

Yeah. I think too Marcie, and thank you for reminding me of that. Hmm. That was what, 2016, 17, something like that. And it was right after we had established the historic Central Area Arts and Cultural District. And I think listening to Donna talk and also remembering this, we can build as many homes as we want to, but without a creative investment in community and representation of community, it's soulless. And I think what we're seeing now as a soul investment, people are really dedicating their heart, spirits and souls to not just being remembered, but to also being in a position of reclaiming.


DONNA MOODIE (29:01):

Yeah. I think too of just how rich, you know, when I first started doing what I do, there were not a lot of Black-owned businesses in Seattle and the ones that were in existence were much smaller and they were for exclusively for the Black community. You know, what I see now is Seattle University, you know, making a commitment to try to support some of the smaller Black businesses. I see Midtown Square, you know, completely full of Black-owned businesses. I look at the Liberty Bank building and not just the presence of a Black business, but the success that commune has seen. I mean that makes people second guess. A lot of people didn't wanna loan that business or mm-hmm <affirmative> do tenant improvements in that business or support that building. You know, and and with all of the work that was done, you know, with the OED, with um, Jill, formerly a um, Community Roots Housing staff person that created these tenant improvements for those businesses. Earl's, you know, you look at that, those are three historic Black businesses that are in that building. You look across the street, there's more Black-owned businesses. You look at Vivian's place that she owns, I mean that's something that's even different and it's been asked for so much in our community and you just watch that growth and it gives you hope for more to come.


MARCIE SILLMAN (30:21):

Donna Moodie, you have lifted the gray clouds off my day. I appreciate this conversation so much and appreciate the work you're doing. Thank you.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (30:31):

And that's what she does. She lifts gray clouds.


DONNA MOODIE (30:34):

<laugh>. Oh, can I do one shout out too? You know, we talked a little bit about Community Roots Housing and I just wanna say like the likelihood that the CEO would take a risk on someone like me is really huge. And a lot of people look at the organization and they're like, oh, you know, it's just what it is. It's 40 years old or whatever. But he actually thought outside of the box and took a leap on someone that didn't have any of the experiences, the education that they're looking for, for that position and would come back to me afterwards and say, you know, I think that might be one of the best hires I ever made. And I just think that that should inspire not just employers, but also people to kind of try to do something that maybe you've never done before but you're passionate about and see what you can bring to different places. Cuz I think we all have a lot to offer.


MARCIE SILLMAN (31:26):

Thank you, Donna.


DONNA MOODIE (31:27):

Thank you. You both so much.


MARCIE SILLMAN (31:30):

Vivian. I again, just have to say how much I loved that conversation with Donna Moodie.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (31:36):

Yeah. You know, I am, um, particularly heartened by the ways in which she described her immigrant background, the ways in which her mom really created community in a spontaneous manner. So, you know, that that that whole comparison or contrast, if you will, between the formal gatherings versus those gatherings that, you know, you run into the bank teller and you struck up a conversation, you invite them over to your house for dinner. You know, those are the things that I think that we've lost so much of. And that loss was exacerbated by COVID 19.


MARCIE SILLMAN (32:21):

Absolutely. I was really struck by the stories about her mother and I had read some things that she had had to say about her mom not caring if silverware and plates matched or if there were enough settings at a table that she wanted everybody to feel welcome. And I think Donna is that person as well. Like, you meet her and it's like she has her arms open for a virtual hug, actually probably a real hug in your case.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (32:50):

Okay. Right.


MARCIE SILLMAN (32:50):

Absolutely. You know, she's somebody who fosters that. And so in her organizing work, in her actual job, that warmth comes through, that passion comes through. And I think about the theme that we've been following this season about culture and community. And I think that Donna is really kind of a lightning post. Absolutely, a lightning rod, that's the word.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (33:14):

<laugh> a a lightning post


MARCIE SILLMAN (33:16):

<laugh> the thing where the lightning hits and sends it back out. You know, she brings, she just is somebody who I just think is inspirational. There's no other word for it.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (33:25):

I think you're absolutely right. There were a couple of things too that she noted in this, this interview that I just, uh, wanna reiterate. One of the things that she said was that the reclaiming of the Central District is very much like weaving together a mosaic of cultures. And I think that's important because while the series that we are doing is mostly focused on the Black community, it is a stark reminder that that community has always been a bit of a mosaic with the predominance of Black people. But she also talked about, and you said this when you said that the use of the term preservation feels a little bit static. That was a lightning bolt for you and for me to really think about what does it mean to both preserve and to discover and to inspire all of those things happening in maybe not a linear way, but that all three are important.


MARCIE SILLMAN (34:31):

It is just really fascinating. We will be speaking on our next episode with Christina Clark, who opened this past year, a bookstore that is focusing on literature from the African diaspora. A lot for young readers. I haven't been inside the store, but in talking to her, that's what she speaks about. And it just got me to thinking about, you know, you light a lot of candles in the dark season of winter and the candles are coming up all over the Central District right now and really sparking a bigger flame, which is super exciting.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (35:09):

It truly is.


MARCIE SILLMAN (35:10):

Well, on that note, as we march towards darkness, you'll take a little light away from listening to this as I will.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (35:17):

Thank you so much for listening.


MARCIE SILLMAN (35:23):

DoubleXposure Executive Producers are me, Marcie Sillman.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (35:27):

And me Vivian Phillips. We get production support from Hilary Northcraft, Randy Engstrom, and Calandra Childers.


MARCIE SILLMAN (35:35):

Support for DoubleXposure comes from Pyramid Communications.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (35:39):

And we're especially proud to support Crosscut Media's Black Arts Legacies Project, highlighting the role of Black artists and arts organizations throughout our cultural landscape.


MARCIE SILLMAN (35:51):

If you like what you're hearing on this episode of DoubleXposure, be sure to follow us on your favorite podcast app and check out our website, doubleXposurepod.com.


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TERMS AND CONDITIONS

DoubleXposure Podcast owns the copyright in and to all content in and transcripts of doubleXposure podcasts, with all rights reserved, including right of publicity.


What You Can Share:

You are welcome to share an excerpt from the episode transcript (up to 500 words but not more) in media articles, in a non-commercial article or blog post, and/or on a personal social media account for non-commercial purposes, provided that you include proper attribution and link back to the podcast URL. For the sake of clarity, media outlets with advertising models are permitted to use excerpts from the transcript per the above.


What You Cannot:

No one is authorized to copy any portion of the podcast content, images or likeness for any commercial purpose or use, including without limitation inclusion in any books, e-books, book summaries or synopses, or on a commercial website or social media site (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) that offers or promotes your or another’s products or services. If you would like permission to use our logo or an image of the hosts, please contact us.

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