540WMain was founded literally with no outside capital, lots of goodwill, personal sacrifice, family support, volunteers, blood, sweat and tears. Many of you have joined me on this journey over the last four years and supported in ways that are simply priceless. I continue to be thankful and grateful for the countless messages, cards, and comments of support. Your likes and shares of our programming and content. Your attendance to our online classes. The camaraderie, both the seen and unseen. All of the support financial or otherwise means more than you know.
Last year ironically saw us move into what I now see as a breakthrough year of exponential growth for this small but mighty non-profit. COVID-19 saw me shift 540 from an in-person grassroots community space to a virtual remote-first educational hub. Our mission has remained largely unchanged but how we deliver our programs and the scope of our reach has now become global. This level of enormous growth in such a short time in the middle of a global pandemic has come with its own unique set of challenges and opportunities. Growth of any kind is complex.
The disabled me has and is sometimes struggling to keep up with the pace. Building a team and culture that values love, honesty, transparency. Moving from doing to delegating and training, to mentoring, and more listening. Crafting systems that are sustainable. Teaching, educating, reading, researching, planning, designing and existing. Living within a “thing” that you started but that takes a life of its own is both wonderfully fascinating but also surreal and sometimes frightening. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll be able to keep the pace; can I make it? Can I do the thing?
“I am doing the best I can”
All this said, we are still a small group of dedicated people. We are small and mighty, but we are human first. We make mistakes. We do not have at this time a huge operating budget. We work tirelessly to make sure that the content we put out, via email, social media and other platforms is polished, professional, and easy to understand. What this all means is that mistakes will be made. My team and I love and appreciate all of the feedback and messages that we receive. They help us continue to push ourselves and our organization to become better, more equitable, more accessible, making good better, and better best.
In all, we value and cherish your feedback. We want to know when we make mistakes how to make what we do better. I ask that in your feedback to me, to the 540Team and everyone else in your life you recognize humanity first. It’s my wish that for all of us right now we extend kindness to ourselves. Be gracious to others. Share feedback and correction with love. I truly believe that most of us are doing the best we can right now. Working when we don’t want to. Pushing through because we need to, because we have to. All of us are doing the best we can despite the chaos of a world that puts profits before people. A world that sees the humanity in some but savageness in others. A world that is unjust, unfair, unkind, showing little affection.
Be the kind you wish to see in the world as you never know what struggles the other person is going through.
(he/his/him) Calvin Eaton is a disabled community educator, content creator, and social entrepreneur, whose area of expertise includes antiracism, equity, justice, instructional design, and program development. In 2016 Mr. Eaton founded 540WMain, Inc. a virtual non-profit organization and antiracist education brand that promotes justice for all. The organization encourages individuals to broaden their horizons and learn more about multidisciplinary issues and topics that impact the world.