The Next Normal: An Interview with Kemi Ilesanmi

The Next Normal: Kemi Ilsanmi

In this episode, we speak with Kemi Ilesanmi, Executive Director of The Laundromat Project in Brooklyn. This project invests in artists and neighbors committed to societal change by supporting their artmaking, community building, and leadership development.

Since the start of 2020, the COVID-19 global pandemic has confined many of us to our homes. For Kemi, she has seen the restrictions of time and space disappear. Conversations about equity and race were able to happen virtually and without borders. We discuss how the world has been opened up and how the conversation about equity is being pushed more to the forefront. For Kemi, as long as we make the space to ideate and dream, we can continue the hierarchical shift that has started.

Listen in as Kemi explores the collapse of space and time, the importance of community, and how we can make the right shift into the next normal.


What You’ll Learn in This Episode:

●       [2:40] Kemi’s vision for shaping and creating the next normal

●       [7:50] The collapse of space and time: how the pandemic brought down borders

●       [11:50] The importance of having clarity of vision and setting your intentions

●       [13:35] Creating the space to have scary conversations

●       [16:15] The benefits of having Executive Director status

●       [17:25] The shaking of the hierarchy

●       [21:15] Are the equity shifts genuine or fleeting?

●       [23:09] What thought leadership means

●       [26:00] Kemi’s advice for others as we shift to the next normal

Key quotes:

●       “We are not for profit institutions; we are organizations that care about a bigger sense of purpose in the world.’

●       “One of the beautiful things that emerged from this moment is the collapsing of space and time.”

●       “This is a very hopeful answer because I think it’s slow work, as often the most important work is. Even all the shifts that have happened seemingly at lightning speed, particularly in light of the summer uprising, are because people have laid groundwork for 7 years of the BLM movement and 400 years of black resistance.”

●       “What would it look like to make our own terms? Not because all of those terms are things we can set in this moment, but because if we can’t imagine it, we definitely don’t get to have it because we can’t define it.”

●       “I think this moment has introduced and accelerated … a shaking of hierarchy because some of the strongest voices of this moment are young people.”

●       “I feel like there are some organizations that will snap back to what they used to be and what they risk is relevancy. At some point there will not be any older rich white people to support you and everybody else won’t think you matter.”

Resources Mentioned:

●       The Laundromat Project