September: Cassie Young
What’s your wave (hustle)?:
Evolutionizing the local news and arts events via Matter News and Cloud City.
The first time I discovered my passion was......
....was in my early 20’s. When I was a kid, I used to think “If I were alive in the times of slavery/Jim Crow, I would have been an abolitionist/activist”. Then my perception shifted while working in DC lobbying during Occupy Wall Street, as well as getting more educated on mass incarceration. I woke up to the fact that I am living in such a time, just further along in our evolution. Since I moved back to Columbus 8 years ago, I’ve become an activist, a government researcher/innovator, a nonprofit news entrepreneur, a festival organizer, and a DJ. Whatever form my passion takes, it’ll always be rooted in making this society more equal and sustainable and connected and loving. And I have a passion for doing all of these things in a radical way. Angela Davis said “radical simply means grasping things at the root.” I’m passionate about breaking through the surface level and living in the deep.
My biggest influence......
...is the people around me. My parents are the most solid humans in the world and their nurturing is the reason I have quality role models to look up to and am healthy and capable and confident. Isaiah Boyd inspires me to live more mindfully and flow and connect to my artistic side. Emily Evans teaches me to love and support and dance more. Alexia Sharell Winfield inspires me to think like a visionary and gatherer. The list goes on and on. People I don’t know inspire me too… Einstein, Angela Davis… anyone acting according to their mind’s eye more than what they see around them.
What/who inspires you to do what you do?
a. Generally: The creative spirit of the people of Columbus inspires me to be creative and bold. We live in silos, though, and there’s amazing work being done but in pockets. We are an extremely racially, economically, and otherwise segregated city. Our social, economic, political, and spiritual movements are so disjointed. I’m inspired by it in that I wish to change it and I see that desire in others too, so that’s exciting.
b. For Matter News: My first job after moving back to Columbus was as a child support caseworker. A year into that, I started to pursue my master’s degrees so I could move up in government and have power to improve programs. In grad school I got even more into activism. A few years later I’m in the most innovative type of position that exists in government. Pushing change from both the inside and outside was supposed to make me feel good, but people started telling me they learn more from my Instagram story than from the local news. That signaled to me that we have a fundamental problem. This was around the 2016 election, which I think highlighted the power of the media and how negative it is. People started turning to credible sources for news, which literally ended up being me - a non-journalist - in some cases. I started to realize that for government change to be possible, people need better info about their own communities. The activist work we were doing meant less because the media didn’t cover it or the issues in a nuanced way. So, in January 2018, I said “fuck it” and decided to start my own news outlet with no idea how I’d make it happen - I had no journalism background.
c. For Cloud City: My friends WRSC among other local groups/events are inspirations. My Cloud City comrades Sam Rothstein & Isaiah Boyd and their various events. My friends at Humans of Columbus. My friend Kareem who started Get Right and Ogee. Bern & Friends. What Fest. The list goes on and on. There’s such a spirit of creative doing alive in Columbus right now and it's contagious. It made me think “All these people I know can do it, why can’t I? I have the vision, passion, and the people (community) - the rest will fall into place.”
Who do you hope to inspire?
People like the old me: people who want to create big waves, but haven’t yet learned to live authentically. All I mean by that is there’s some sort of mask they haven’t mustered the courage to take off yet - they haven’t fully come to appreciate and/or honor who they are. I overshare my personal beliefs, feelings, and experiences online and in public. I want people to see me for the complex being I am. It gives them permission to be authentic too. Once you start living more true to your root, magic just starts happening. I feel a tide change swelling up and I want to inspire a ton of lil waves so it’ll swell even bigger and that tide will change faster.
What are you creating right now?
Remember when I started that journey to create a news outlet? Well, 3 months into it, I met a journalist named Jaelynn Grisso and we immediately began building the Matter News model to fix the issues we see in the news industry. We are multimedia, investigative, nonprofit, accessible, and community-informed. We take deep dives into specific issues affecting Columbus and right now all of our content relates to Columbus’ growth and development. We’ve been building infrastructure and publishing content for about a year at matternews.org and on social media @matternews_. We are about to focus on securing the bag with a big crowdfunding campaign this Nov-Dec. The Institute for Nonprofit News will match donations 1:1. So, if you believe in the need for entertaining and meaningful local news, please consider donating during that timeframe and maximizing your impact!
What do you have coming up down the road?
VERY soon, on September 7th, I’m throwing a multimedia arts festival called Cloud City. It includes music, fashion, film, comedy, podcast, mindfulness, gaming, skating, photography, and more. We are bringing together a diverse crowd of people to answer the question “what if a city was built by artists?” We are independents, artists, creatives, and entrepreneurs organizing the fest ourselves. It’s been a TON of work, so we are excited for the city to come to life. I am performing at the festival as the DJ of our band it’s (i) - so catch our set at 7:15pm at the outdoor stage. Isaiah, Jordan, myself, and the rest of the team have big energy for ya! We have ~75 people curating/running various aspects of the event (including WRSC!), ~75 artists, and ~30 volunteers. $20 tickets available on Eventbrite and at the door.
Where can we find/see/learn more about your work?
What message do you want to share to inspire others?
Do whatever you can to build up the social courage to go to places and reach out to people your intuition tells you to. Your intuition is giving you clues - follow them. Our guts hold 95% of our serotonin receptors (neurotransmitter of the central nervous system). So, “gut feeling” is a real thing - it helps us sense memories and energies and frequencies our brains can’t. Logic is useful, but if thinking is the only way you make decisions, you’re going to be blocked from doing anything truly great. Epic shit only happens when you feel something deeply and act on it with courage and a pinch of logic, not by sitting down with a spreadsheet.