How We Work

Grounded in our manifesto and theory of change, we center humanity while exploring innovative approaches that expand the collective imagination. We cultivating relationships with community members, practice solidarity across issue areas, and disrupt systems and practices that perpetuate harm in our communities.

We confront dehumanizing systems of oppression by building people power, collectively developing strategy, and mobilizing to advance an alternative vision. As a Community of Practice, we embrace a posture of learning in our approaches—holding space for our work to be emergent and adaptable as the political landscape and power structures shift.

What is a community of practice?
A Community of Practice (CoP) is a group of people with a shared concern, interest or passion, who deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interacting on an ongoing basis (E. Wenger, R. McDermott, W. Snyder, n.d.).

Interested in learning more about Communities of Practice? Check out this article.

Theory of Change

Ideate. Solidarity. Disrupt. Cultivate.

The Urban Core Collective creates space for conscious relationship building and communal care with our neighbors. We collaborate on adaptive organizing strategies that mobilize our work and grounds us in the belief that liberation is possible. 

Our Manifesto

a new way of being
We Are Committed to Doing Differently

For too long, Grand Rapids has maintained a specific “way” that organizations are asked and expected to show up and do their work. This standard of practice has produced and maintained systems of oppression that disproportionately affect our Black and Latinx neighbors. The outcomes of these systems are horrendous.

We refuse to continue in this fashion; our community deserves something boldly different.

We Exist as a Community of Practice

As a learning community, we consistently seek to understand the nature and logic of oppressive systems and actively resist them in our work. We believe this ethic is a generative one: by refusing to continue as the status quo demands, we create space for new ways of being and doing.

We Incubate Ideas

We center voices from the margins and recognize that these voices are seldom afforded the space, time, or resources to freely imagine how we might be. We hope to divert resources to communities and to follow where they lead us, choosing to locate the power of both design and decision-making within the
communities that we work.

We believe, “those closest to the pain should be closest to the power.”

We Are a Collective Effort

Urban Core Collective (UCC) is a collective effort to practice a different way of being. We are not designed to be a programmatic response to systemic injustice. Instead, we are a community that recognizes, values, and advances the full humanity of Black and Latinx people in Grand Rapids, MI.

We Cultivate

We prioritize relationships over work, believing that as humans, we are so much more than productive bodies. We believe that we will never achieve the outcomes we desire without deep, honest, and accountable relationships.

We Prioritize
Self Care

Emotions and experiences are vital to how we imagine new ways of being. By practicing vulnerability and engaging in healing and reparative work, we attempt to tend to the wounds of division caused by systems that aim to diffuse our
collective power.

We Act Collectively

Finally, UCC leans into its different way of being by embodying an ethic of refusal and disruption. We recognize that the overlapping systems of oppression our communities exist within are so totalizing they can feel “normal.” Our affirmations are aspirational states that serve as guiding intentions in our work. We continuously ask how we might manifest these futures in the present while striving to change structures and systems that continuously deny their importance.


Three raised fists representing solidarity, and two speech bubbles representing community discussion.
Our Affirmations for Communities of Color

Our fates are intertwined

Our desires are recognized

Our pain is acknowledged

Our voices are heard

Our histories are honored

Our presence is welcomed

Our labor is valued

Our communities are safe

Land Acknowledgement

We acknowledge that we are on the ancestral lands of the Anishinaabe people, the People of the Three Fires: the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi. We recognize the sovereignty of Michigan’s Indigenous nations and historic communities, honoring both those who live here now and those who were forcibly removed from their Homelands.

Our land acknowledgment serves as a reminder of the histories, teachings, traditions, and the first people who originated here and continue to be stewards of this land. We acknowledge the truth that for more than five hundred years, Native nations have demonstrated resilience and resistance in the face of efforts to separate them from their land and ways of life.

It is important for each of us to not only acknowledge but seek to understand the history that has brought us to reside on their land. We are committed to supporting the process of social justice and reconciliation. We have a lot more to learn and do.

Thank you for sharing this place with us.