Urban Country Club

We talk to co-organizer Ja’Mel Ware of Intellectual Ratchet about the group’s origins and goals to provide a social and networking group to support Madison’s increasingly diverse population of movers and shakers.

Tell us a little about yourself and your organization, Intellectual Ratchet. Who was involved in starting the group, and what were the driving reasons for doing it?  

Intellectual Ratchet (IR) is Madison’s Urban Country Club. The idea started at the end of 2014. Kimberly Cho and Britney Sinclair were the driving forces. Kimberly is IR’s branding consultant and a talented graphic designer. Britney grew IR’s social media following and provides interactive activities at each event. Together the three of us hashed out the philosophy and application of the Intellectual Ratchet lifestyle.

IR was created to give Madison’s growing diverse population of Millennials and young professionals a variety of event options tailored to our needs. As Madison focuses on diversity awareness and sustainability, it needs to be able to retain the talent entering the city. While compensation and health care are pretty packages, Millennials seek well-rounded environments and won’t settle in places that are missing key aspects.

What sorts of activities does the group facilitate, and who are they open to or geared toward?  

IR events provide interactive environments that nurture fun and space for conversation and networking.

After our soft launch in April 2015 IR held three events: a private screening of Straight Outta Compton at Marcus Theater, a paint night at PaintBar Madison, and a holiday brunch at Tip Top Tavern.

This year we have an event planned for each month! Our year opener was two cooking classes held at FEED Kitchen and hosted by chefs Sami Fgaier of Le Personal Chef and Ben Altschul of Tip Top Tavern.

Our events are tailored to those who self identify as intellectual ratchets. These folks tend to be young creatives, entrepreneurs, professionals and Millennials. However, our events are open to and attended by everyone from all generations (21+) and backgrounds. We pride ourselves in hosting the most diverse events in the city.

IR works on a membership basis. Our members attend monthly events for free while the public pays a different price.

Why did you feel it was important to start a group like IR? What gaps does it fill in the community?  

As an educational hub, Madison has great intentions that often stop at theory and self-reflection. IR provides practical solutions for opportunities to get to know people from diverse backgrounds while bringing a missing urban vibe to the city.

As a double-edged sword, IR also provides exposure of small businesses and organizations to a more diverse audience. Simply hosting an IR event provides venues with exposure to a growing population of the most prominent up-and-coming leaders in the city.

Are there any challenges unique to the mission of a group Like IR, and how do you work to overcome them?  

The biggest challenge we face is debunking and re-appropriating the definition of “ratchet.” Many people associate the euphemism “ratchet” or “ratchetness” with something negative. IR is here to say “ratchet” is beautiful, it is culture, and it holds as much dichotomy as any other word. IR defines ratchet as: all things in celebration of the edginess, linguistic, stylistic, and cultural practices of soul in urban communities.

I find that the IR council—Ashley Robertson, Amber Walker, Britney Sinclair, Kimberly Cho, Micaela Berry, Michael Langlois, and myself—help define ratchetness. Each of us embraces and embodies the word, creating a positive association. IR images, also, help ease the minds of venue owners and managers. IR’s photographer, Naku Mayo of In His Eye Photography, has a way of capturing the environments and energy of the spaces we create, allowing people to feel at home and welcome to attend our events.

What are your upcoming events? How can people get involved and/or find out more?  

IR has some amazing plans for 2016 with events planned through December, but that information is private to our members. All members know about IR events two quarters in advance. The public will be informed about events two weeks beforehand. However, anyone can become a member! To learn more about membership visit our website www.IntellectualRatchet.com.

To see IR in action follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.