Chicago Action Brunch is the recent brainchild of Watchen Nyanue, a Chicago-raised transplant born in Liberia. She has accomplished quite a bit in her professional life, however is committed to giving back to her community. She has a résumé that lists Hearst Digital, Comedy Central, and Yahoo! as past employers yet she still has found time to serve on the Advisory Board for the Chicago Posse Foundation and remains an active member of the ENSA chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
At Chicago Action Brunch, Watchen brings together a cohort of eight professionals; four females and four males that work together to create a community solution. The goal of the group is to develop a program in 30 days around a problem and work toward addressing that issue.
“I have found that people feel overwhelmed with the sheer volume of issues that Chicago is facing and feel kind of helpless. I also think when people think about giving back they first think about giving back financially. If someone is not in the position to do so, they may get discouraged. A second factor is that a lot of people think that giving back requires a huge time commitment, which is also not true. Part of the reason the brunches and projects have been successful, in my opinion, is that people are choosing issues they are personally connected to,” Nyanue said.
Even though the program has gained significant momentum in Chicago, it’s faced a few challenges too. She expressed that keeping Chicago Action Brunch’s cohorts gender-balanced has been a problem that continues to resurface and threatens the program format.
“I tapped into my network of people and it was pretty simple to get them to sign on to a brunch. There was actually a waiting list to attend a brunch for the first couple of months. Since then though, surprisingly, the challenge has been finding males to participate in the brunches. As awareness of the organization grows, and my network in Chicago grows, hopefully finding people to participate in a brunch won’t be a concern,” she said.
In an attempt to share the impact of the 30 day projects in the Chicago community, Nyanue launched a kickstarter campaign to create a webseries centered around the activities of the Chicago Action Brunchers.
“The ultimate 30 Day Project is actually what we are calling the Kickstarter project we are doing through Seed Chicago. Our project is to raise $7K in 30 days to create a web series about the great work the participants of the Action Brunch are doing each month. Ideally, I’d like to use the web series to extend awareness of the Action Brunch into other cities. A few friends have mentioned they would love to adopt the program for their city.”
If you are interested in learning more about the Chicago Action Brunch or how to give back, you can visit them online at: Chicago Action Brunch or to donate to the Kickstarter Campaign, visit: 30 Day Ultimate Project.
“The reason I chose to give back in the way Chicago Action Brunch does is because I love people and I love dialogue and debates. The Chicago Action Brunch was a great way for me to marry the things that I love while giving back. I also think you just have to start [if you want to give back in your own way]. The timing will never be right, you are going to make mistakes, there will be challenges, but the sooner you start, the sooner you can develop best practices that help you make the impact that you desire,” she concludes.