Welcome to the first episode of Porch Talks with your host, Melissa Bradley. This season, she’s sitting down on her porch to talk to her friends about their experiences, both professional and personal, as New Majority Founders and CEOs. She wants to hear what it feels like to be part of a fast growing entrepreneurial ecosystem, the struggles and insecurities they faced, and how they overcame them. And the porch is a great place for these conversations!For our premiere episode, Melissa is sitting down with Patrice Green. Patrice is the Interim Director of Inclusive Economies at the Surdna Foundation, community activist, and someone who is extremely passionate about the Black community. Surdna is a national family foundation, based out of New York City, with a mission to foster justice and sustainable communities throughout the U.S. Today they’re talking about the importance of community while you’re on your entrepreneurship journey, and recognizing the impact New Majority entrepreneurs can have on the people around them.
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0:00:14.1 S1: Welcome to Porch Talks. I’m Melissa Bradley, founder of 1863 Ventures and co-founder of New Majority Ventures.
Here on Porch Talks, I sit down with veteran founders, CEOs, and entrepreneurs who are committed to creating wealth for the New Majority. These folks have years of first-hand, in-the-trenches experience, navigating a fast-growing entrepreneurial ecosystem. Here they break down the roadblocks and barriers that tested their resiliency and resolve, and share the lessons they’ve learned through it all. Each and every talk will support the health, wealth, and well-being of the New Majority entrepreneur. Undoubtedly, these people and their stories will inspire you on your journey from founder to CEO.
Welcome to the first episode of Porch Talks. I invited some of my friends to my porch in Martha’s Vineyard. These friends are seasoned leaders, funders, and entrepreneurs who are committed to creating new majority wealth. I wanted to talk to them about their experiences, professional and personal. I wanted to go way beyond the tips and tricks of starting a business that I cover in the Founder Hustle podcast. In fact, for Porch Talks, I wanted to hear what it feels like to be part of a fast-growing entrepreneurial ecosystem, and to listen to the struggles and insecurities they faced, and how they overcame them. I also wanted to hear and share in their joys and hopes for the future.
The porch is a great place for these conversations. It means many things to many people. But for a lot of people, the porch is a place to convene and meet up. It is a place to relax. It is a place to ponder your future and to even crack jokes. No matter what, the porch becomes a place where conversations grow beyond surviving and actually delve into thriving. It is a place with no limits. You can talk about whatever the hell you want and know that you’re supported, no matter what. These are the talks that I wanted to have on my porch, and as expected, I was not disappointed. These folks have a lot to share, and I know they will inspire you just as much as they inspired me.
Melissa Bradley: I am here with Patrice Green, who is the Interim Director of Inclusive Economies at the Surdna Foundation, community activist, and someone who is extremely passionate about the black community. That’s how I have the privilege to know you. How would you describe yourself to the general public?
Patrice Green: Well, one, Melissa, thank you for having me here.
0:02:36.2 PG: Lovely to be on the porch with you. I would describe myself as a daughter, a sister, a lover of food, and someone who is about family and community all day, every day.
0:02:48.5 MB: I love that. So I am not very active on IG, but I’ve started to follow particular people and so I want to talk about the food part. So I just realized you can cook. Never been invited to dinner, but you can cook.
0:03:02.2 S2: I see you someplace else.
MB: Talk to me about the significance of cooking.
PG: So my dad was a cook in the military. It’s one of those things where most folks talk about their moms and the women in their family cooking, it’s actually the men in my family who cook. My stepdad was also a sous-chef in the military. But I think really I started cooking because I have a much spicier palate than the other people in my family.
MB: Invite me over. Let’s go. Let’s go.
PG: The hashtag that I use is food is my passion. And I really think that it’s a language that can sort of transcend all things. It’s a full body experience. And it’s a way that like you break down barriers and people come together. And so I love to be both experimenting, but also just having folks enjoy. And my partner likes to cook as well. So it’s like great to be able to have someone who will take over and we can do those things together.
0:03:57.2 S2: What’s your favorite thing to cook?
PG: My favorite thing to cook?
MB:Because you’re killing it with soul food on Instagram.
PG: I do. I do spend a lot of time with soul food. So you know what? A jerk pork roast.
MB:Okay. You’re making me hungry.
PG: And the crock pot with some purple cabbage, some coconut rice. Look, I heard Alessandra say, you know, I needed a rainbow to eat.
MB: Put a rainbow on your plate.
PG: I’m going to continue to work on it. So yeah. Okay.
0:04:29.9 S1: You mentioned your dad and stepdad were in the military. What is the most favorite place that you’ve lived?
0:04:35.6 S2: So we spent four and a half years in Italy.
MB: Nice. You speak Italian?
PG: I do not speak Italian. I understand Italian.
MB:Okay. So somebody’s cursing you out, you know.
PG:Yes And when there’s food available, I’m really quick to go. But when we moved back to the States, I started taking Spanish. So I have a, I struggled to flip the accent. So I understand, but I speak Spanish. It’s funny. I always tell people as a kid, you know, like you might go to Six Flags or Kings Dominion. I went to the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
0:05:04.5 S1: Wow. Tough life there.
0:05:06.0 S1: Hello. I didn’t get to go up it, which, you know, that’s a thing that I go back and forth with my mom about where we’ve been able to go. But yeah, so when we were there, like going to Pisa was a really sort of great memory. I will say that having now traveled as an adult and I did a study abroad, I probably love Spain more than Italy.
PG: I think, and it could have been just having the experience as an adult and being able to see, you know, the overlap, particularly of, you know, religion. And so you see Judaism, you see Muslim, you see Christian and you see it in the physical buildings in a way that we don’t see here.
MB: Right. When we see nothing here.
PG: When we build over things, we literally build over things and we erase them. Right.
0:05:56.7 S2: Whereas you can see those influences in Spain that I felt like I hadn’t seen in any other place.
0:06:02.4 MB: Interesting. When you think about all the places that you have been and the experiences you have, what is your proudest personal moment to date?
0:06:16.2 PG: One of the things that I think I am most proud of is being able to see the evolution of work. So I started out right out of college at a community development corporation in Philadelphia. And one of the areas that the community was working on was this acknowledgment that Martin Luther King during one of his tours had come to Philadelphia, you know, in that later part when he was really getting into his economic justice movement. And so I was supporting the community members to figure out how do they, you know, acknowledge this space. And so I had left and gone on to do other things. But there is now both a historical marker there and a mural. And so it’s one of those things of recognizing that you don’t have to be there for all of the pieces, but that you have the ability, depending on the point you’re at in your life and career, that you can be seeding, you can be watering, you can be pruning, but to have the opportunity to actually see that come to fruition and knowing that there are going to be lots of other things that I get to touch in this way that I won’t.
0:07:27.3 PG: But to see and to see the proud moment of the community members, many of which at this point have passed on. But at the moment where they were able to do that.
0:07:35.5 MB: Where is it in Philly?
0:07:36.7 PG: It is at the intersection of 40th and Lancaster Avenue.
MB: Okay. I’ll ride by. Like, oh look, Patrice did that. Patrice did that. And so now you’re at Surdna Foundation.
PG: I’m at Surdna.
MB: What is Surdna? Who is Surdna?
PG: So So you mentioned I’m the interim director of the Inclusive Economies program. We have a program called Thriving Cultures, which is really focused on how do we really, you know, enact and enable artists and culture bearers to really envision and create the racially just society that we’re looking for. A program on sustainable environments because we all know that climate change is real. Yes. And climate justice is something that we really need to be working on. And also thinking about how do we, you know, what does land use mean, you know, on this on this lovely island? What does it mean for folks of color to really have the opportunity and access to hold tenure over land and use it?
0:08:53.8 PG: And then our Andrus Family Fund is really focused on the younger members of the family, but has a focus around youth justice. And they’ve actually just updated their mission to really focus on sort of the abolition of sort of criminal justice systems around youth.
MB: Where does entrepreneurship come in and all that?
0:09:15.4 PG: Yeah. So it’s an interesting thing for our Inclusive Economies program. Part of the way that we’ve been focused is really centering on how do we get into the place of creating the economy where black, brown, indigenous folks are leading and creating. And we really see entrepreneurship as a key mechanism for closing the wealth gap. And so that’s sort of a centerpiece of our strategy, along with thinking about, you know, we’ve got to live in this moment. And so how do we shift the policy and practice and who gets to make those decisions every day?
0:09:48.6 MB: Yeah. You know, it’s rare that when we talk about entrepreneurship, we think about community and it expands upon something that that I often talk about with folks is that entrepreneurship is a team sport.
MB: And I think typically we talk about it or I talk about it as, you know, who’s on your team, whether they’re paid or unpaid, who’s advising you, who’s working for you, who you’re partnering with. But you take it to a different level of not just within the context of the company, but in the context of the community.
MB: What is the connection? What do you see as the connection? And how should people start to reframe that entrepreneurship is a team sport, but it’s also around community engagement?
0:10:26.4 PG: You know, I think the reality is this one, even if you want to think just about the business, the business has to one, whether it’s even if it’s virtual, you know, you’re in a virtual environment. There is a community, whether it’s your clients and your customers. And so the ability of those folks to both be able to connect and understand your business is going to be one thing. But the health and well-being of that community is what is going to enable them to continue to partake in whatever your business is. And so when we move from thinking about this very sort of isolated individualistic perspective, we actually create a much more robust opportunity. And you never know how the trajectory that can be created because you are navigating not just within your business, but you are thinking about that larger and wider community. And I think, you know, all of the work that that you have done has really been sort of like, how are you interacting with both these entrepreneurs? But what are you seeing and what is the need in the market and what’s the opportunity to connect? And I think, you know, part of the conversation that I think we’ve had is we’ve been using the language of ecosystem, but I think someone brought it back.
0:11:41.2 PG: It really is how do we take the kinship networks? Like how do we take those and bring them into the 21st century and how do we reconnect and think about the strengthening of my brother or sister on this side is the strengthening of my ability to do my work any and every day.
MB: Right. What old is new again.
MB: In your role at Surdna, you also oversee and work from the investment perspective in thinking about how to invest in this entrepreneurial ecosystem. As you do that work, I have to imagine there’s a very precarious balancing act of just putting money in a place, recognizing the opportunity cost and making sure that it manifests not just set of returns for the foundation, but returns for the community. What are some of the obstacles that you’re finding personal or professional as you do that work?
0:12:32.8 PG: Yeah. So it’s been an interesting experience. I said, I think part of it is one because I come from doing the community work. And so that is my first blush and lens. And part of what I have made every effort to do in our work with our impact investing team is to be able to do the translation. And I think that is the struggle that we have is that helping folks who, you know, their work has been very explicitly on the investing side. And so it’s helping folks to say one, like all of whatever you are investing in is having an impact. The question is, are you seeing who it actually is impacting? Are you actually quantifying that? And are you being honest about, you know, what those costs are? And so I think part of the struggle and some of which that we were starting to get, you know, over, I think some of those humps is helping folks to do that translation. And so I see myself as being able to sort of like sit and straddle these places and listen and then say, OK, here’s the connection. And then wanting to use that as here’s how we build muscle memory.
0:13:41.9 S2: Here’s how we tell our investment co mmittee when they’re like, well, this doesn’t look like. And I was like, but you’ve already seen it. Like this is you’ve seen it in this deal and you’ve seen it in that deal. And no, these deals are not exactly the same. But particularly when we have, you know, new fund managers, you know, first time fund managers and fund managers of color coming to the table. Helping folks to be like, it’s not all that different. Let’s translate this for you so that you can understand that it’s the same piece. And we’ve got this opportunity in terms of impacts on community. And I think being able to be at that table and being seen as, you know, a credible partner at that table and being sought after to say, like, OK, can you talk about what we see as the impacts and why we’ve already been investing from a grant making standpoint? Is one of those places that I think is really important for us to be leaning into. And we’re going to continue to do that.
0:14:33.6 MB: Stick around for more of my conversation with Patrice Green after the break.
Welcome back to the porch. Here’s more of my conversation with Patrice Green.
MB: One of the reasons why I wanted to have a conversation with you is because my hope for this is that it’s an opportunity for entrepreneurs to not just talk about tools and techniques and strategies, but really be thoughtful about the work. And understanding that standing up a business is great and makes money, but it has an impact. It has an impact on the community, has an impact on employees, has an impact on investors. And they’re all very different. And I don’t know that entrepreneurs always have the time and the understanding to look up from the balance sheet, the income statement to understand what is the impact that I’m having. If you had an opportunity to talk to any entrepreneur or thousands of entrepreneurs to say, you got to strike this balance, what would you say to them and how would you tell them to do it?
0:15:32.1 PG: One, that would be an amazing opportunity. And what I would say is, I think part of where you started is about really considering this as a team sport. So part of your ability as an entrepreneur to do that is that you’re creating a team around you that gives you the space either to do one of two things. If you’re going to be the person who’s got your head down sort of on the business, that you’ve got someone who is close and trusted that’s going to be looking at those pieces and bringing them to you. And then the other piece is if you’re going to be the person who’s going to sort of lift your head up, that you’re confident in your team’s ability to hold these pieces around you. And so I think that’s one of the things, right, is that we’ve got to continue to build that team. But I think at the core, the reality is if you’re an entrepreneur and you are doing this work and you have a vision to sort of grow your business in any way and you want to have employees. And one, I want you to have employees.
0:16:27.4 PG: You know, I want you to think about that first and not maybe your very first job, but maybe you need to think about that very first job because it may give you some insights of all the things that you don’t want to experience. But the first job that you had that gave you sustainability and recognize that you have the opportunity every day to touch people’s lives in this way. And so your ability to think about what it means to create for your employees is going to then ripple and translate through their family and through this greater community. And you can do that again in collaboration. And so part of it is how are you in conversation with other business owners? Because those are probably going to be whether they be your suppliers, you know, let’s think about that. And then how do you get connected to that ecosystem, that kinship network? Because I fully recognize, like I said, my first gig was walking Lancaster Avenue, talking to the business owners and understanding that like folks who have been running their businesses for 20 years, you know, they’re in that shop, you know, 12, 14 hours. So what does it mean to be able to get them those resources and things like that?
0:17:40.3 PG: But like one, the ecosystem is evolving. Folks are creating more opportunity. We’ve sat in a global pandemic. So now there are much more things, you know, online. And you’re able to connect to many more partners who can help you very easily see the opportunity to make even small shifts. And we have a number of partners who are really thinking, how do we incentivize folks to do the right thing around, you know, what it means to be an employer? And that’s part of it is that we’ve got to be driving folks. This is how we’re going to, you know, get to that hundred plus years is with folks creating businesses that are going to employ folks and do it in a way that is fair, that is sustainable, that has living wages. And you have the ability. We’re seeing this now. Like you have the ability to think about what health care looks like. And so that impact is just you have the ability to just amplify that impact so much more.
0:18:34.9 MB: It’s interesting because as I sit here, I’m so excited that we have this conversation because when I think about Tulsa and I think what has happened, particularly as we celebrated the hundredth year anniversary or hundredth year of devastation reflection, the focus was on what could have been. But the oral narratives that I hear was just that, right, that Tulsa was successful, not because everybody had a business, but because there was an active conversation. You’re going to do that. I’m going to do that. I’m going to do that. I’m going to do that. But they were also intentional. My understanding was that they thought about if I have too many of one thing, what is the impact on the community? You may not want to do this, but if somebody doesn’t do it, it’s going to have an impact on the community. And so I do think that as with all this technology, we have lost some of the human dynamic around what does it mean to start a business? What are you most excited about right now?
0:19:26.8 PG: You know, I’m most excited to see that we are starting to, I think, have some of that conversation. Right. What is the more times than not? I’m hearing folks say, I want to get connected. I want to be in conversation. And that I do think that for all of the things that, you know, if you turn on the news that keep happening, that I believe that we still have we have folks who have the knowledge that we need. And I think we actually have the connections. And I think really what we’re missing and that we do have the ability to do is to strengthen these these types of conversations and connections and to get in a place where we can say, all right, you’re going to you’re going to hold this piece. And I don’t have to hold this piece, but I know how to direct folks in this way. And our ability to do that and not to continue to sort of like one duplicate, but also to sort of trip over each other, but just to be in real conversation to say, this is where I can hold and this is what I’m going to do.
0:20:28.1 PG: And how do I either help you to leverage from that or you can use the case or to be able to connect an entrepreneur or another speaker in that way.
0:20:37.8 MB: Yeah, we we had a conversation the other day around this kind of long tail vision. Like, I tend to think in 10 year chunks, but the reality is we probably should be thinking in 100 or somebody even put out there 300 year chunks. Where do you see us? How are you define us in 100 years?
PG: Oh, in 100 years, in 100 years, my hope and prayer is one that we have figured out so that we can actually stay on this planet.
0:21:04.4 MB: That’s key. That’s key
PG: that we can stay on this planet. But we are at a place where, like, we can take the word scarcity off of the table. That abundance is actually the way that we live, that folks have not just food to eat, homes to live in and stability in that way, but that we are connected in a way that we are continually able to give and thrive. Because I think when we get to that place, we then are going to be able to unlock things beyond what I could even put like possibly imagine for 100 years from now.
0:21:41.8 MB: Yeah. So I love the optimism. So I’m going to flip it in the context of us are in the context of entrepreneurship. Lots of programs, lots of people trying to do stuff. What scares you the most about what’s happening in the entrepreneurship sector right now?
0:21:58.5 PG: I think there are two things that scare me the most. One is that we make it so sexy that everybody wants to run and do this thing. And we don’t tell people the truth. Right?
0:22:12.3 MG: There’s nothing sexy about it. There’s nothing fun about it. There’s nothing free about it.
0:22:16.3 PG: Right. And it’s hard and it’s still at a place. I mean, you all have done this research, right? That it’s much more expensive and that our community, when we move in, everything we have is literally on the line. And it’s a generational experience in that because a lot of us are carrying front and back in terms of generation. So that is one fear, right? That we aren’t honest. And the other piece is that we miss this opportunity in terms of the amount of attention and dollars that are happening, that we need to sort of lean in and figure out how we put folks into place so that we can maximize and leverage, whether that’s on the federal side, that’s the corporate money. And I know everybody’s like, well, where is it? And even that to say, like, who are the folks that we need to be putting into place and pushing in? Because what I don’t, I guess this is part of the pessimism is like, I’m not sure that we’re going to get this moment again. And so it may be that we get a moment that is better than this one, but that is all dependent on what we do here and now.
0:23:22.0 MB: Yeah. It’s funny when you were talking, it automatically pops up generational opportunity cost. And so what is it worth it?
0:23:31.1 PG: Is it worth it in this moment? I think it’s got to be. I think it’s got to be. Because the folks who have been here, the folks that you spend a lot of time with and talking to, and we’ve all spent a lot of time talking about things like a Tulsa. So I feel like, one, we have a responsibility to what those ancestors were doing, that they were abruptly stopped from doing, that in this moment where we have much more access, much more abundance, and not that it’s all that we should have, but we have much more of that. And we have people in places that who knew if anybody could have imagined folks to be in those places, that I think we have a responsibility to at minimum try and not to end this moment, give up. And because our young people are dealing with a whole lot of other things, like we, you know, I fully believe that we have a responsibility to leave this place better than we found it and to create an opportunity for those who are coming behind us to sort of, you know, they’re going to have to make their decisions about what they do with it.
0:24:36.9 PG: But I think we’ve seen, we have, we sit in a place where we can see back and forward where we could end up, where we’ve been and who are the shoulders that we stand on. And if we don’t do it, then I think one, we’re going to lose that memory, even for the next generation to be able to understand what they can do going forward.
0:24:55.1 MB: As I listen to you, I’m mindful of the fact that not only you are a community leader and activist, but you’re a caretaker. You care for communities, you care for your family. Who takes care of you?
0:25:06.2 PG: You know, I have a really great community. So my partner, Patrick, is always making sure that I am fed and that I’m being safe and yelling at me when I’m not. But I also have a really wonderful network of women, frankly, and mostly women of color, not all, but mostly who are checking on me and recognizing. And many of them are in the same place. You know, we are oldest or only daughters taking care of moms and that next generation. I know that you know. I was like, this is the story that somebody needed to tell us about how you navigate taking care of our elders in this way that I think is different than the way that we sort of, our parents may have seen it or not. But that community of folks is so important. And one of the things that I would always credit for my mom, she will always say there have always been folks who have come and made sure that we had. And so always looking to pay it forward in that way. And so that is one of the things that I think I’ve inherited from her. Whether it is childhood friends, sorority sisters, folks who I’ve worked with, folks like you who have made sure that, you know, as I’ve navigated this space in various iterations, have just been willing to be sounding boards and supporting what it means to and recognizing.
0:26:33.6 PG: Like just to say, are you all right? And if you need a moment. It’s a kinship network. Yes. And I think that’s the thing. You know, there is work. There are work things that we have to do, but we are people that bring a whole lot of other people with us each and every day. And so for someone to take the moment to say, are you doing all right? How’s your mom? Right. You know, it’s really important. And I’ll shout out my brother. I have a younger brother who’s a few years younger than me who has come into, I call him the heavy. So I do the day to day stuff with my mom, but we’ve done the reverse of parenting roles. So he gets to be dead and I’d be like, you need to come and tell her.
MG:You need to call mom and say she needs to sit down. Yes.
0:27:16.5 PG: All of that. Yes. So I appreciate that.
0:27:19.1 MB: If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing?
0:27:23.6 PG: Owning a bed and breakfast on the island someplace.
MB: Wow. Okay. That seems like a lot of work, but okay. Why?
PG: I just, you know, one, I would love to be in a place to like, you know, cook for folks and help folks cook. But like in a way that is about community and and rest because we don’t get to do it.
MB:So I’m sitting here thinking bed and breakfast is a lot of work, just lik e anything that we do.
0:27:52.5 S2: Is it possible to do both?
PG:To do that lot of work and rest? I like to think so.
MB:Okay. Have you done it?
MB: Okay. Okay. I’m just trying to get the formula. So, okay.
PG:Look, probably not. But I like I like to think that like one because part of it is relative, right? Like, what is the stuff that feels like work versus the things that are rejuvenating? So like there may be a lot of work to it, but like if I can get up and like dance around and sing and play in the kitchen, you know, and it may be until the point that I’m like, oh, this isn’t fun anymore.
MB: I’m still dancing. I’m doing dishes at 1 a.m. It’s not fun.
PG: But like, what is what’s the balance of that to be able, you know, to do that?
0:28:35.7 MB: Yeah. If you had one wish, what would it be in any context?
0:28:45.8 PG: In any context? That black folks could just live. Like just like live.
MB:That’s a hell of a wish.
PG:Because I mean, like at the end of the day, whether it’s, you know, my godchildren and like that, we could just live.
0:29:00.7 MB: Yeah. And whatever that means to you.
PG:Whatever that means to you. That like my mama didn’t have to worry when I went to a place that if my partner goes to a place that I don’t have to worry that he comes back. Right. That my brother who lives in state college, I don’t have to like check like you could. Right. That we could just live.
MB: That’s powerful. Thank you for coming to the porch. Thank you for having me.
Thank you for listening to my conversation with Patrisse Green, who is always cooking some great food and cooking up great strategies to help the community advance.
If you enjoyed our conversation, please leave us a rating and a review. To learn more about our guest and find a link to the website, check out our show notes. You can find us on social media at We Are NMV or search for us with the hashtag porch talks.
MB: How would your mom describe what you do?
0:29:55.6 PG: She gives away other people’s money.
MB: She’s not wrong.
0:29:59.0 MB: She’s not wrong.
PG: I feel like my mom goes through this. She was like, what’s your title? I’m not going to remember that. Right. And so she was like, who are you doing it for? You’re giving away other people’s money for entrepreneurs. Right? And so most times she was like, somebody said they want to talk to you about a business.
0:30:14.7 PG: And I was like, yes, mom, but I’m not I don’t I don’t actually I don’t I don’t give money directly to businesses. I give money to the businesses that help the businesses. Right. But yeah. So she’s got the I give away other people’s money.
MB:She got the general gist. Yeah, she’s got the general gist.
Porch Talks is a production of Kinetic Energy Entertainment and New Majority Ventures.
Recording and video production services were provided by Modulus Studios.
This podcast was recorded at the Blackjoy House in Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard. Our producer is Anne Kane.
Our social media producer is Masako Anvela.
The show is mixed by Sonya Harris.
The Porch Talks theme is A New View by Tony Cruise.
Thanks again for listening. See you back on the porch.