Blog Interview Series: Xander Gieryn

Xander1.jpgXander began his work in the labor movement working in solidarity with hotel and cafeteria service workers. He got his start after his family went bankrupt due to a change in state policy in Wisconsin that resulted in his father's employer, and every other employer in his field, cutting staff, including him. This suddenly changed his middle-class identity, as he was not able to afford university on his own despite having worked since he was 15. Thanks to working in community for human rights, he managed to find a career in Indianapolis and eventually a scholarship for his community organizing efforts. Through that scholarship, he’s been lucky to have the opportunity to help the Indianapolis Worker Justice Center get started, and he now serves on their board as they strive to support workers who have experienced wage theft to reclaim their just due.

He is a service worker and a concerned citizen, neighbor and student focused on building strong relationships in order to create a more sustainable way of living. He believes in bringing people together; creating spaces (virtual & physical) that are hubs for artists, social entrepreneurs and community-builders; and convening safe space for discourse and action against oppression and for justice through music, art, and food. 

What is your name?Xander2.jpg

Xander Gieryn

How long have you lived in Indy?

I've now lived in Indy longer than I've lived anywhere – six years.

Why have you focused your career on the nonprofit sector?

Putting people over profit is the best move you can make; with the economy what it is, the only safety net one can really have is their network of family and friends. (I learned this when the economy left my father without a job, and my parents got caught with a house that wouldn't sell, so I became financially independent before I moved here.) I see not-for-profits or community-based enterprises as being catalysts for real relationship building and strengthening our neighborhoods.

What would you say to another young professional considering a nonprofit job?

Good self-care is important; to help anyone you must help yourself first. Acting out of self-interest isn't selfish, it's just good sense – you will do your best work in a situation that is supporting your growth, and the best partnerships are mutually beneficial.

If you could learn a brand new skill, what would it be?

I'm just getting a handle on WordPress web development, and next I plan to put my nose to the grindstone and learn app development through HTML5, as there are a number of useful asset-sharing practices that can be greatly supported with neighborhood-based apps/platforms.

If you were an inanimate object, which would you be and why?

I live my life in motion, so hard to imagine! A rocking chair might be apt though, I try to be supportive and, when possible balanced.

What do you hope to accomplish that you haven’t yet?

I hope to reach the point where my ego is totally detached from my work, where I can fully put my efforts into achieving my mission and values and to put Indy Art | Media Co-op and/or other projects in which I'm involved before myself.

Most important question: Yeast or cake doughnuts?

Neither right now! Ha ha! I've been on a dessert fast for the last month and a half. If I don't extend it out until eternity, though, cake all day.

Want to support Xander's work?


He currently works with an arts & media collective/non-profit called Indy Art | Media Co-op. They are currently building Indy's first Tool Lending Library, which will make media production and event equipment accessible to the community at $1 a week for members. They were honored to recently win the Indy 5x5 competition and get $10,000 of seed money. This will get them 71 tools, insurance and lodging in Fountain Square. Economic status should not drive Indianapolis art and culture. Access to quality equipment can often dictate creative capacity, event effectiveness and overall community impact. Equal access is key to amplifying Indy's voices in culture, the arts and all of our neighborhoods. To create a totally sustainable and robust inventory that will support Indy's budding cultural scene for years, they aim to raise another $14,000 through their online fundraiser which is live now, with tons of awesome gifts, at this website.




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