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Rising Stars: Meet Erin Patrice

Today we’d like to introduce you to Erin Patrice.

Erin, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I was born and raised in Cincy in Roselawn on Eastlawn Dr., attended Purcell Marian High School, and used to roam the streets of Bond Hill when I was young.

Growing up dealing with abandonment issues, I was looking for “love” and fortunately got pregnant at 16 (I say fortunately because it was so life-changing and positively impactful), dropped out of school my Junior year (eventually went back in my 20s), and got married at 18. Unfortunately, the relationship ended up being physically and emotionally abusive. That went on for several years.

During those years we had three more children. The years were hard. It was exhausting being in constant survival mode and wearing a “happy face” mask. I recall looking back at pictures of that period in time and saying “Wow, I didn’t even look like myself.” I was hollow and looked dark. The light I used to have was no more. Thankfully, after years of unhappiness and pain, we were able to flee and start fresh in Michigan. It was hard to start over but so freeing. I had nightmares for several years but once the healing took place it was a feeling that you can not describe. I was able to then use my story as a healing place for others because I understood the need for “freedom of voice and expression” because it was taken from me for so long. I was able to give the gift of advocacy work and help others to feel seen and heard. That looks like speaking at shelters, in classrooms, for companies, and throughout the surrounding community. Being able to serve others in those spaces was life-changing and transforming for me. While I was helping them heal it was actually extremely therapeutic for me as well. Although I’ve built a wonderful life in Michigan my roots have always remained in Cincinnati. I love to touch down and I still participate in community programs.

As I was on my journey to find what my purpose in life was I actually found that my purpose was to LIVE, share my voice (even though when I was younger I constantly got in trouble for speaking and asking questions), and help others free theirs too! So in the year 2020, I started The Breaking Bread Village (TBBV) to create a safe space for everyone to be their authentic self with no judgment, due to the rise in no civility, arguing, and non-listening. I mean we all remember 2020 was a year of divisiveness and strong dislike on both sides of the spectrum. I was in awe and had to step away from the noise and really look around and see how I could do my part while the world seemed to be self-destructing. TBBV started off as a personal need to simply do something and has blossomed into something greater. TBBV outlet has been able to have conversations with many people who are locally and nationally known for their perspectives, culture, experience, or beliefs. I was able to speak with Dr. Cornel West and Jane Elliott, both of whom I grew up admiring for their work. I didn’t admire them because I agreed with all their thoughts/actions but I respected their consistency and non-wavering beliefs. Mrs. Elliott even invited me out to her home and we spent the weekend together. That was incredible but above everything, I’ve enjoyed sharing space with everyday people who are willing to share their voices with me. It’s been such a learning and life-changing experience, again and again. I give thanks and I’m forever grateful. TBBV has been going strong and I’m proud of the work we’ve done.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
No, it hasn’t been smooth at all. I wish it would’ve been but I’m also for what I’m learning as I take this journey. The work I do all starts from self-discovery and self-accountability. To be able to “see” others you have to “see’ yourself first. All of what makes us who we are and what we perceive as good and bad. That type of work isn’t easy because we have to be honest with ourselves in order for others to feel like they have permission, to be honest with us. When I create space for people to sit down and truly be honest with themselves and with the world by sharing their thoughts and beliefs, others don’t always like or appreciate that. It actually has made people upset with me because although they want to share themselves in their authentic self they don’t want others to if they have a different opinion or thought. It’s a very interesting battle to witness. The battle that people will fight to be heard because they believe and value what they stand for but they’ll fight equally as hard to stop someone else from achieving that same goal.

Also, people think I’m crazy (their words not mine) for intentionally bringing people from all perspectives, backgrounds, and thought processes together in one room or on one panel to share their differing thoughts while being transparent. Most people assume it’s going to be a chaotic mess but it hasn’t been. You’d be surprised at the peace you can achieve when you approach people in a certain way. The beautiful part is that all panelists are given a clear expectation from me to be respectful and allow others to share even if their thoughts don’t align with others. It’s amazing because the conversation flows, people can be heard, and change, empathy, or understanding is able to take place. Which is the ultimate goal. I love it! The magic that takes place is palpable.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I am a creative, conversationalist, facilitator of conversations/community engagement. I specialize in productive/transparent conversation and creating spaces. I love music and dancing! My dream is to travel the world having conversations and break bread with different cultures and people.

I’m known for intentionally showing grace and creating spaces through conversation, transparency, and love.

I think what sets me apart is my willingness to realize that people are merely my reflection. I’m able to understand that people can change and change their minds. That we’re all simply made up of what we’re taught, indoctrinated with, experiences, and the last book we read.

Let’s talk about our city – what do you love? What do you not love?
Ayeeeee what I love most about Cincy is the culture, the vibe, and the sound. We are a whole VIBE! When I come home I hit the streets running to hear that buzz of the city. My heart loves all the nostalgia that comes when I drive through the old neighborhood or have Skyline Chilli. Yep, I love the food and the festivals! I just love the richness of our beautiful culture.

What do I like least? Not sure I can say, I don’t live there anymore and I only see it when I visit, so I love everything cause it’s home!!! Whenever I come home it always makes me feel warm and loved so it’s EVERYTHING to me!

I love it so much that I’m kicking off TBBV Cincy’s “Coming Home” Tour. We will be in Cincy for a week interviewing shops, community efforts, and people/places to highlight on our show! We have several of them on our list! We can’t wait! If any local restaurants, businesses, or people want us to stop through…hit us up! We’ll be there in April.

Thanks so much, VoyageOhio for speaking with me. It’s an honor and I appreciate that we were able to share a little space! Much love!! See you soon Cincinnati!

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