Hello, my name is Kiki.
I’m from “up north” where the southern tradition of calling adults by the moniker “miss” is less common. Growing up, I was allowed to call adults by their first name. A tradition we do have “up north”, is that children often use the label “auntie” for family friends (that’s awntie, not anty, BTW). When our kids (my son and his friends) were little, Kristen was tricky for them to say, and I didn’t love the idea of all the “aunties…”, so the kids called me Kiki instead, and it just stuck. It’s also easier to use at TRIBE, as some parents prefer their children not to call adults by their first name, out of respect…. Kiki offers a compromise, and an easy way for me to connect with the kids.
But yes, Kristen Brown….. that’s me too.
In 2010, I moved from downtown Tampa to Old Seminole Heights with my son. We LOVE this neighborhood, and rarely leave it. The beautiful old bungalows… the unique small businesses… the camaraderie shared among residents, how proud we all are to live in this special place. But most of all, I absolutely adore the sense of community in the Heights… how we look out for one another, and band together when a neighbor (or the neighborhood) needs help.
As a mother, there was one thing that bothered me though: the lack of easy, affordable activities for children in our area. Sure, there was plenty of variety if you were able to leave the neighborhood and had a little disposable income. But the activities I was able to find often required a bit of logistical juggling and a full session commitment (and payment) up front.
At the time I shrugged it off as the cost of raising a kid… $25 here, $100 there… but in the back of my head I wondered, “what would I do if my situation changed?” What would happen if I lost my job, or another life change made my situation more difficult? And what do those parents who can’t leave the neighborhood or don’t have a little disposable income do for their children? I also wondered, why must our children make a commitment to a full session of an activity before they have even had a chance to try it? How are our kids supposed to figure out what they are passionate about if they don’t get the chance to try lots of things?
So in the spirit of Seminole Heights, I decided to do something for the neighborhood. I left my career and started seeking out anyone and everyone who could help us build a community center.
And that is the last time you will hear me talk about something that I did, because honestly, the community of Seminole Heights really took over from there.
TRIBE Seminole Heights is the result of a lot of hard work, determination, collaboration, love (and a little grit). I am the lucky individual with the front row seat, that has gotten to watch this community come together in a way that few of us ever knew was possible. The volunteers who teach our classes, the church who provides our space, the neighbors who donate to our clothing closet, the businesses who help us thrive, and the children who keep us all going… THEY are TRIBE. People often ask me, do I run TRIBE by myself? It’s laughable really, there’s no way I could do the work we are doing at TRIBE by myself, I just coordinate the chaos. A team of over 100 folks makes TRIBE possible.
Every single day I am blown away by the spirit of giving in our community, and once you spend some time with us… even an hour… you will be too. It’s amazing to look around our community center when it’s busy, and see what a neighborhood can do if they work together. However, we are just getting started, and there is still more work to do. Whether you have a knack for folding and sorting clothes, or a desire to make an impact on the next generation, we have a place to plug you in.
Looking for a deeper connection or larger impact? Let’s talk.
Whether here at TRIBE, or somewhere else around the neighborhood, like one of our porch parties, or the Sunday market, I’m really looking forward to meeting and getting to know you and your family.