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In their CMX Summit 2020 keynote session, Kobie Fuller and Gordon Bellamy talked about why communities are key to driving social change at a time when the world needs it most.

Kobie and Gordon took us through how the power of individuals working together can create movements — movements that drive social, political, and business change. Whether micro or macro,  these movements need community in order to last.

Below are Kobie and Gordon’s takeaways for how to harness the power of community as a vehicle for social change:

  1. Create more inclusive “default spaces”
  2. Be a changemaker
  3. Start with trust

About Kobie and Gordon

Kobie Fuller is a partner at Upfront Ventures and the founder of Valence, a networking platform that unites and uplifts Black professionals. Kobie joined Upfront from Accel. Earlier in his career, Kobie served as Chief Marketing Officer at REVOLVE, helped found OpenView Venture Partners, and was an investor at Insight Venture Partners.

Gordon Bellamy is a seasoned gaming professional with extensive experience building community in the gaming industry. He currently teaches at the USC Games program within USC’s Cinema Arts School. Gordon founded Gay Gaming Professionals, a community that spreads expertise and employment opportunities within the industry. Gordon’s experience includes THQ, MTV Networks, Tencent, and Electronic Arts, among others.

1. Create more inclusive “default spaces”

“You’re default. And now you’re able to move forward professionally in discourse.” –Gordon Bellamy

One way that Gordon used his own community as a vehicle for social change was to create a space where people of different orientations, expressions, and identities could “come into your space, and feel as though they are default.” When community members feel like they’re the default, they can be more comfortable being themselves without navigating qualifications.

The takeaways

Here are Gordon’s tips for expanding inclusivity through default spaces:

  • Understand your community members’ experience.  Gordon suggests this question as a guide: “How many people can come into your space and feel as though they are default?”
  • Over-index for underrepresented or misrepresented communities. For Gay Gaming Professionals, Gordon gave early access to non-gender conforming, non-binary and transgender members to counter the “default” of cisgendered men in queer spaces.
  • Don’t open with qualifying questions that rank people, like “What’s your job title?” or “Where did you go to school?” Instead, lead with inclusive questions that anyone can answer, like “Why do games matter to you?”

2. Be a changemaker

“There is a difference between waiting on the world to act on you, and acting on the world.” –Gordon Bellamy

There’s many things that are out of our control in life, and it can be tempting to feel powerless. But we always have the ability to make change. Being a changemaker starts with focusing on areas where our actions can have a meaningful impact on the world. For Gordon, this “laser focus” on acting wherever he could helped him find peace despite all the ways the world acted on him.

“The more people that we can drive towards changemaking, the better. Those are the mission points. Those are the KPI that I see.” -Gordan Bellamy

Kobie shared his own experience with being a changemaker. In 2019, Kobie launched Valence to connect Black professionals and leverage the power of a community to affect change together. As the Black Lives Matter movement changed the national conversation, Valence saw a surge of interest. Through Valence, Kobie leveraged his capabilities and resources to make a change in an area he felt was broken.

The takeaways

How can you be more of a changemaker? Here’s a few tips:

  • Find something wrong in the world that you have the ability and resources to change. Then, act on it!
  • Flex your changemaking muscle regularly. Like working out, small amounts of regular changemaking can lead to gradual but steady change.
  • Surround yourself with people that challenge you. Collaborate with the people who challenge you and lift you up, and make sure you have mentors that empower you.

3. Start with trust 

“Trust is a gift that people have to be willing to give you. You can’t extract it from people.” –Gordon Bellamy

Trust is important to building safe communities that are able to work towards a higher mission. Gordon views trust, loyalty, and goodness as concentric circles. Each circle builds on the one before it — trust, then loyalty, then goodness. This means it’s impossible to have excellence or loyalty in communities without first having a foundation of trust.

The takeaways

Kobie and Gordon shared ideas for building trust in communities:

  • Break the barriers that prevent connection. Transparency is needed to build trust. Break the barriers between community members and enable them to get to know each other!
  • Create transparency around a community’s purpose. Establish a shared purpose and set of values so community members are operating from the same place.
  • Hold each other accountable. Each community member should know how the community should act and holds their commitment to each other.
  • Don’t just punish bad behavior. Make sure to also identify the positive traits you want to see, and celebrate members who show those.
  • Build up your goodwill deposits. Invest in relationships within the community to create a bank of trust.

Check out all the videos from CMX Summit 2020 here!

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