Melanated holiday digital art. Credit: Kaia Shivers

Find resistance and resilience in your holiday joy

This holiday season marks an epic moment. Reflecting on entrepreneurship, holidays are as much a moment of celebration as they are a personal revolution.

There were moments this year when I contemplated docking The Mothership, my nickname for Ark Republic. Exhausted, disappointed and without clarity on how to make it through, I began to make peace with experiencing some great times as the founder and editor-in-chief. With the over 100 contributors from around the world in the five years of it percolating the news channels, Ark Republic put out excellent work using the most modest of resources.

While we received the most financial support during the pandemic, we seemed to falter in gaining economic footing. For a small company, instability can cause worry for contract staff. Honestly, it did. So contributors left and others had to find other ways to garner a viable income. This was far from what I envisioned Ark Republic to be. In many ways, the company became what I loathed when I freelanced—an unstable machine. Consequently, I knew I needed to revamp, so I started attending more workshops given by the Black Media Initiative at CUNY’s Craig Newmark J-School.

Then we got into a program called the Philadelphia Media Exchange through the insistence of Cheryl Morton-Thompson at the Black Media Initiative. That program opened me up to a collective of small media makers who are as scrappy, bright-eyed and determined to disrupt the mainstream algorithms like me. So, we got into more programs and continued to connect with more people.

Admittedly, the switch resulted in much less stories in 2022 than previous years, but it was needed. What I realized this year was the dire need for me to reinvent myself and Ark Republic with as much space and self-permission as possible. Yet, the internal audit of the company was difficult. Perhaps, more to my ego than anything because entrepreneurs must build such a solid constitution to deal with daily rejection in all facets of selling their business. Thus, criticism of your operations can sting if not in the right mind. “The audacity that someone could tell me what I needed to do with Ark Republic,” I spat back when given critical feedback.

Initially, when the areas that lacked became apparent, defeat set in like a maladjusted broken leg. Over time, I had to reorient my thinking to change the perception of the company’s weak points. Instead of flaws, they became opportunities to grow, to learn and eventually, to become healthier. Once Ark Republic became a machine of my imagination that was absolutely beautiful and brilliant, yet it simply needed a tune up, my perspective changed. Thus, my despair shifted. Most importantly, this happened because I slept for a good three months.

What many might not tell you is that ideas come during creative periods requiring rest. So I did. In the resting and going back to the operational lab, a plan was birthed. Slowly, it is being implemented. Another important allowance, was to give myself and Ark Republic the ability to move at a reasonable pace. Although we are gradually working out our kinks, it is necessary in our sustainability.

Additionally, in the rest period, it takes you into a profound reflection. Looking back at older stories and projects reified the love and passion I have to produce rich and robust news. Simultaneously, looking back cultivated a deeper pride in the work produce. Moreover, we’ve been receiving emails, texts and phone calls asking about our coverage and giving encouragement to keep going. All of this was fuel to continue.

With the year whipping by like a cold December wind, we are in the final days of 2022. This holiday feels different than the last two years filled with uncertainty. It is as if the world knows we are in the thickest times of our lives. We are sober to that fact. Now with the month-long holiday season filled with multiple celebrations across a range of cultures and religions, this holiday marks the moment we must be as resistant and resilient in our rejoicing. For me, Ark Republic was built on this idea that the people deserve better in how and what they receive in the news cycles. Since we are still here, I remain grateful and celebratory. Now, it is time to get back to work.

Happy Holidays, and may this time be cherished and full of notes of freedom.

Accomplishments of Ark Republic

December 2022 | Received Valentine Foundation Grantee for “Being Beloved” podcast

November 2022 | Selected as 1 in 450 small-to-medium newsrooms for the Google News Equity Fund

March 2022 | Named part of Philadelphia Media Founders Exchange

March 2022 | Named part of the Black Media Initiative’s (CUNY), Black Media Project Strategy cohort

March 2022 | Won Center for Community Fellowship for Newsroom Editor Yolanda Aguilera at Newmark Center for Community Fellow

December 2022 | Served as Media arm of Black Farmers Index’s Inaugural Vittles box campaign

August 2021 | Awarded Newark Creative Catalyst Award

May 2021 | Released Comcast commercial for Comcast RISE award

December 2020 | Released Second Community Collaborative Project | The Light Series

December 2020 | Named recipient of Comcast’s RISE grant program

May 2020 | Launched the Black Farmers Index

December 2019 | First Community Collaborative Project | The Light Series

October 2019 | Fourth Major Collaborative Project | Gentrification

May 2019 | Supported Black Mama Bailout fundraiser

April 2019 | Third Major Collaborative Project | Cannabis

March 2019 | Supported “I, Too Am Divine: An Installation on the Black Spiritual Experience,” New York University

March 2019 | Second Major Collaborative Project Nipsey Hussle 

November 2018 | Co-hosted Sexual Assault Townhall “I Believe Women: Sexual Assault Beyond a Reasonable Doubt with Global Spectrum Group and Lisa Durden Unlimited Productions

August-September 2018 | First Major Collaborative Project 

July 2018 | Hosted Network and twerk social 

May 2018 | Instituted internship/apprenticeship program 

May 2018 | Named Company to Watch by New York University Entrepreneurial Institute 

May 2018 | Participated in American Press Institute summit

March 2018 | Co-Sponsored Break, Bread & Build Conference with Special Guest Roxanne Shante 

April 2018 | Co-sponsored Cannabis social 4-21 The Day After 

March 2018 | Joined NewsGuild of Greater Philadelphia – Local 38010 of the Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO, CLC 

November 2017 | Launched official website 

August 2017 | Social Media Reporting Roll Out 

June 13, 2017 | Launched Membership Drive 

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We’re raising money for Ark Republic and Black Farmers Index.  We need your help to keep the wheels churning and the stories flowing. Please donate to organizations committed to keeping you informed with rich, robust stories and great connections to empowered people.

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