In this blog post…
• Karida Collins & Neighborhood Fiber Co
• What is the NFC Momentum Fund?
• Why this GoFundMe campaign matters.
• Baltimore Youth Arts
• Help Karida continue her community outreach.
One of the things I love about our crafting community is how so many of us work to ‘give back’, mentor, and strive to provide safe places for learning and expression. A real hero of mine, with respect to both her advocacy and her ability to make real changes, is my friend Karida Collins, founder of Neighborhood Fiber Co.
Karida has made it a point to really promote and support not only our community but also give back to her neighborhood and city—The NFC Momentum Fund is a good example of this. If you haven’t heard of it, the NFC Momentum Fund is a donor-advised fund at the Baltimore Community Foundation, a vehicle for charitable giving. In 2020, Karida created the Fund to provide grants to organizations that are working to mitigate the effects of systemic racism and support the world’s most vulnerable populations, with a focus on Black-led organizations in Baltimore City. Since then, the Fund has granted over $65,000 to initiatives like Baltimore Safe Haven, Black Girls Vote, IRAP, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, and CLLCTIVLY, among other vital organizations.
Through Karida’s efforts via The NFC Momentum Fund, she has saved a senior citizen from losing their home, she has provided necessary funds for housing and mental health services for trans kids in Baltimore, she has seen to it that other black-owned businesses have gotten their start, and she has done outreach to many other people that had nowhere else to turn.
But Karida isn’t done. She has plans that inspire me. So, I wanted to share this story and a GoFundMe opportunity with all of you and ask for some help.
Neighborhood Fiber Co.’s production and community mission has outgrown its current location, and Karida decided to purchase a larger building in the Midway neighborhood of Baltimore. This new location offers more square footage, ADA compliant access for customers, and increased space for additional classes and workshops. The new space is under construction to bring its gas and electric utilities up to code, and improve ventilation systems so that Team NFC can more safely work with dye pigments (as well as decrease the risk of Covid infection). Once these critical renovations are completed, cosmetic construction can begin on retail store space, class spaces, and outdoor area.
Not only will the new location provide the room and facilities Neighborhood Fiber Co. needs to sustain its level of production, but the building will also better support NFC’s community mission of incubating arts access in Baltimore. The new classroom spaces will mean that it can add more workshops that are open to the surrounding community to their schedule, in addition to its famous kettle-dyeing classes. As travel becomes possible with decreasing Covid rates, NFC can invite more nationally and internationally renowned fiber artists and support their work. Karida is also planning to begin mentorships for small-business owners and burgeoning fiber artists by allowing them the use of equipment and space at NFC.
A great example of Karida’s community focus is Baltimore Youth Arts, a creative entrepreneurship and job training non-profit that provides artistic and professional opportunities to young people, especially those who have been involved with the justice system. BYA will become a sub-renter in the new location. In addition to using it as an administrative headquarters, BYA apprentices will have access to the facilities and learn fiber arts skills. Another reason Neighborhood Fiber Co. wants to finish its renovation project as soon as possible is so the building can be used for Baltimore Youth Arts’ 2022 fall camp program.
The vision was always to have enough space so that Neighborhood Fiber Co. could not only expand their operations but also have the kind of facility that would work for projects and educational programs with Baltimore Youth Arts as well as other youth based organizations in the area. The problem is that since this project started (and Karida invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into the new building) the costs of renovations has more than doubled.
I’ve listened to my friend talk with enthusiasm about the kinds of things she wants to do with the space–especially working with kids that have been in and out of the justice system. But I’ve also listened to Karida talk with fatigue about banks not working with her and construction companies submitting outrageous bids for the work. So I put this GoFundMe together and am asking for your help… if you can.
Here is a little background on Karida Collins and the Neighborhood Fiber Co…
“The decision to prioritize environmental responsibility is just one aspect of Neighborhood Fiber Co.’s reputation within the fiber arts community as a company that is committed to justice, empowerment, and equality.”
Neighborhood Fiber Co. was born in 2006 in a basement apartment in Washington, DC. A total city girl obsessed with color, owner Karida Collins set out to provide the world with hand-dyed yarns inspired by and named to reflect the natural beauty and diverse neighborhoods throughout the nation’s capital. Since then, she has added many more colors to reflect a multitude of neighborhoods, landmarks, and locales. Since 2011, Neighborhood Fiber Co. has made a home in Baltimore, MD, and continues to offer vibrant, one-of-a-kind colors inspired by urban landscapes.
Now beginning its 15th year of business, Neighborhood Fiber Co. currently offers 14 different yarn bases in more than 70 colors. The majority of the yarns are made with GOTS-certified Organic Merino. While it is still machine washable, this wool is free from the harmful chemicals associated with the traditional superwash process. The decision to prioritize environmental responsibility is just one aspect of Neighborhood Fiber Co.’s reputation within the fiber arts community as a company that is committed to justice, empowerment, and equality.
Here is a little background on the Baltimore Youth Arts programs…
Baltimore Youth Arts is a creative entrepreneurship and job training program that provides artistic and professional opportunities to young people, ages 14-22, with a focus on those involved in the justice system. Our mission is to assist young people in gaining the creative, personal, and educational skills that will enable them to become leaders in their communities.
BYA believes the arts are a path towards personal liberation and self-sufficiency and that they not only positively impact people facing incarceration, but also the justice system and perceptions held by the greater community.
BYA uses the arts to engage youth with the goal of building long-lasting, mentoring relationships. We provide artistic, entrepreneurial, and leadership opportunities to young people so that they can hone their talents and use them to shape the world.
Baltimore Youth Arts (BYA) envisions a world where all young people have equal access to opportunities that allow them to discover their purpose.
Hope: No matter what background a person is from, no matter what choices they have made, they are always capable of making a positive impact in their own and others’ lives.
Connection: Relationship-building is at the core of our work. We aim to develop long-lasting relationships that span adolescence and early adulthood.
Trust: Believe in the people who make up this community and respect their decisions.
Inquiry: Experiment and ask questions. Meet each person where they are and help foster their creative exploration.
Risk: Take chances, personally and creatively. Embrace each mistake and learn from them.
Here are some images from the Baltimore Youth Arts’s summer camp program in the old Neighborhood Fiber Co.’s building.
Wrapping up: A few final thoughts…
Karida really wants The NFC Momentum Fund to be a tool to help others. She doesn’t tend to ever ask for help for herself. As her friend… I can see that she could use just a little help in realizing her dreams to continue to help others. Helping others is simply who she is. This is why I’ve organized this particular GoFundMe with the goal set for $150,000.
Donations to this GoFundMe will go toward construction and labor costs to create a functional workspace and a welcoming creative hub in the Midway neighborhood. The sooner Neighborhood Fiber Co. can relocate, the sooner it can operate to its full potential and fulfill its community arts mission.
Although Karida needs much more than this… $150k would allow the new space to be functional enough to work in and able to be legally occupied by NFC, Plied, and BYA. The wish list is a bit longer than this… but I thought we’d start with this and go from there.
I hope you’ll join me in supporting this amazing person who has spent her whole life taking care of others.
If you'd like to donate but do not want to use GoFundMe, you can send your checks to... Neighborhood Fiber Co 700 N Eutaw St Baltimore,MD 21201
All my best.
Benjamin Levisay (he/him)
CEO & Host of Stitches Events
P.S. If you’re interested in The NFC Momentum Fund, please check it out. All donations to the The NFC Momentum Fund are 100% tax deductible (unlike this GoFundMe).
P.P.S. If you would like to email me a comment or suggestion, please do so at [email protected]. I do not promise to answer every email… but I will do my best to read every email. Thank you.