Dustin Young, although not fond of official titles, is the founder and brains behind Our Own, an organization that focuses on building and diversifying money from the African American community. “Call me a ‘Communalist’ – I’m not big on titles, we’re a community- we’re all working together, that’s why I say: Communalist”.
Dustin proceeded to expand on why a community mindset was so important to him. He reflected on growing up in Carson, CA where he remembered a true community environment. “Everyone on the block looked out for one another, I think I got whooped by everyone on the block when I got in trouble at school,” he says with a laugh, “but it was cool. It was all family. Somewhere along the line we lost that. Communities turned into an individualistic mindset. I want to bring that community feel back – where we all help one another.”
“For those people who are frustrated… don’t want to be on the ‘front line,’ but want to see our people doing better; why not refocus where you’re spending money, and spend $1 with your brother everyday for a year? [Your money would] go into a fund, which would redistribute money back into the black community.”
That sentiment only grew when he moved to New York after graduating from college. It was there, in 2014 that the idea of Our Own was born, “Once I moved to Harlem, it was a wrap! You feel the history almost like your ancestors are speaking to you – it’s just a different groove.” That time spent, walking through Harlem, solidified his decision to develop an idea to reinvest money back into black neighborhoods and communities. He started thinking, “How can we do for our own people? How can we build something where we start small, and then start building up? [After that ] I came up with Our Own.” That was 2014. Two years later, Our Own was officially established.
Built on the core beliefs of: Unity, Self-Determination, Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose and Creativity; Our Own’s mission is simple, to “help build and diversify the black dollar, starting with just $1.”
Nuts & Bolts
Per the website, “We as [African-American’s] have amassed a buying power of over a trillion dollars annually. Unfortunately, we’re putting less than 10% of that back into OUR economy… Imagine if we all devoted a dollar a day to OUR community…”
You contribute one dollar, per day, every month. Our Own will then invest your dollar into a startup or established business voted on by you and the OUR OWN community. The return-on-investment is then reinvested into other businesses and community development projects. Visit the Our Own website to get involved and learn about their first venture.