THEIDEA The Rose Initiative started as a sense of frustration Caleb Woodlon felt with the inequity he saw around him. Living in Baltimore, MD, as city widely regarded as the blueprint for red-lining in America, he was able to witness firsthand the disempowerment that many communities faced. He wanted a way to address the long-standing injustices that deprived so many people of their hope and opportunity through direct action and mutual aid. So, he started The Rose Initiative, inspired by the Tupac Shakur poem "The Rose That Grew From Concrete". He recruited the help of friends Lily Mihok, Shyne Carter, and Hunter Simms to get his vision off the ground.
The Rose That Grew From Concrete
Did you hear about the rose that grew
from a crack in the concrete?
Proving nature's law is wrong it
learned to walk with out having feet.
Funny it seems, but by keeping its dreams,
it learned to breathe fresh air.
Long live the rose that grew from concrete
when no one else ever cared.
- Tupac Shakur
WHAT ISMUTUAL AID
"Mutual aid is about cooperating to serve community members. Mutual aid creates networks of care and generosity to meet the immediate needs of our neighbors. It also addresses the root causes of challenges we face and demands transformative change.
Amid an unrelenting pandemic, economic crisis, and increasing climate disasters, the need for mutual aid networks has grown significantly. These crises expose the deeply rooted systemic inequalities in our society—including in humanitarian aid. And mutual aid has always played a role in filling those gaps."
For us, mutual aid is about more than giving. It's about fundamentally addressing the needs of a community while recognizing that we can all learn and gain so much from each other. We intend to build solidarity with communities while we help restore their spirit. We recognize that the power lies in the people, and acknowledging that is the first step toward change.