Making Change with Rebel.com
I never thought of a web development company as a community builder. I mean, most businesses don’t exactly invest themselves in community by personally taking responsibility to convene it. But Rebel.com is refreshingly different.
Back in 2019, the smallest steps applied to become part of Rebel.com’s ChangeMaker Program. This program is meant to assist individuals and organizations seeking to create change in their communities. Rebel.com supports these organizations in a myriad of ways, but the most obvious is by doing what they do best: Website hosting and builds.
When we applied to the program, we were looking for support to build this gorgeous website you’re now visiting. The money we’d raised through our Indiegogo campaign was specifically allocated for our production costs, and while we had assembled a small but mighty volunteer team of social media mavens, we didn’t have the funds to build a website that would support us in sharing news of the documentary and activism information.
I remember the first meeting I had with the Rebel.com team. I was so nervous! I met with Brett Tackaberry (Chief Technology Officer), Adam White (Project Manager), and Justine Sousa (Business Development Coordinator), and they were all incredibly welcoming. When I arrived, they started our meeting by showing me around their space, which includes a large multi-use community gathering room complete with a kitchen, a stage, and integrated AV. Then they offered me coffee, and we sat down to discuss the dreams our team had for the smallest steps website.
In our current society, it’s not often you receive support from an organization without an expectation of returning that support in some way, so throughout my meeting, I kept saying things like, “well if this is included as part of the program” and “we’ll definitely cross-promote Rebel in all these capacities”. At one point, Justine stopped me and said, “We’re in this to support your project. You’re under no obligation to cross-promote anything.” At the time, I didn’t believe it. But now I do.
Since our initial meeting, the team’s support of the smallest steps has gone far beyond simply building our website. They stand true to their mission of enabling participation, leveraging new technology, giving back, and building community.
For example, shortly after our meeting, Justine connected me with some movers and shakers in the Ottawa community from whom I learned more about community-building. While working with Adam, lead designer Tope Olorunlona, and assistant designer Christina Muxlow, to build the website, the team also offered to connect us with Rebel’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) expert. Justine invited our team to several networking events hosted in Rebel’s community space where I met valuable contacts for the documentary and for my work as a filmmaker. And even though Adam was dealing with a significant flood in his apartment the day of our website launch, instead of delaying our launch date, he worked with his team to make sure our site went live on schedule. He also made time shortly after the launch to meet with us after hours to personally walk us through how to update the site ourselves.
Further, Rebel.com provided a letter of support for our grant applications, strategic advice on web-specific technical components included in those grants, and they offered us use of their meeting and community spaces to hold future events in support of the anti-violence activist community (which we will definitely be doing once the documentary is ready for screening).
Getting into the ChangeMaker program has been so much more than the transactional relationship I incorrectly assumed it would be. Instead, it has truly been about building a community of supporters for the smallest steps.
For all those in need of a little extra help taking your ChangeMaker ideas to the next level, I highly recommend connecting with Rebel.com. Through them, you’ll find people who truly believe in putting their skills towards a better community for all.