"I CHANGE the climate change focus to the age of the neighbor investor where sustainability is measured one square mile at a time."
—Naomi Davis, President and Founder of BIG: Blacks In Green™
I come from "white gloves and mud" – proud granddaughter of Mississippi sharecroppers who like millions of other African-Americans waved a bittersweet goodbye to the brave travelers who made their way up-south for freedom and economic opportunity. Like many millions more in my generation today – the most privileged generation of African-American children in history – I owe all my all to honor their sacrifice. In this spirit we forge new bonds across the bounds of race and class remembering the bloodshed the shame suffered, the triumph against all odds, and the ever-continuing crimes against our humanity.
As the founder of BIG: Blacks in Green,™ I'm excited to share with you the work of our West Woodlawn Botanic Garden Village farm Initiative, where we ask and are in the process of answering four questions:
• How many households could we feed?
• How many neighbors could we train and engage?
• How many jobs/businesses could we create and sustain?
• How many gallons of storm water could we divert?
Here is where we embody and implement the 8 Principles of Green-Village-Building.™ Here we embody and implement Chicago's Green Healthy Land Use Plan. We embody and implement the very best practices and innovations of sustainable community economic development. We’re determined to make new meaning from today's morbid messages to and about us. Here, in the age of cultural and climate crisis, we’re creating new rules and a higher way forward in the redevelopment of the black community, answering the mandate of emergency, creating a new promise to our ancestors, and keeping that promise here in this 'new promised land'.
What's 'The New Promised Land'? It's the reckoning of what's honestly owed to African-Americans who have for centuries been systematically and with cover of authority denied – based on our race – the same opportunities, access, and protections to land routinely afforded to our European cousins. Worse than that, the ongoing lack of equity, the absence of a moral constraint or any measure of ethics in business, African-Americans have been repeatedly targeted for judicial and extra-judicial taking of our land. Our black farmers of the 1900's are just one example. Our homeowners of this century are another profound example.
To begin to right the wrongs, level the playing field and build a new platform for elevating the community wealth of African-Americans here in the Age of Climate Crisis, Blacks In Green™ offers a uniquely focused response. We call it the local living economies as greenhouse gas reduction strategy. Our vision is self-sustaining black communities everywhere. Our mission is "The City of Villages" – where every household can walk to work, walk to shop, walk to learn, and walk to play, and where community wealth circulates within to fertilize the interests of neighbors. This kind of sustainability, measured one square mile at a time, is focused on an increase in household income of present residents. This is the metric of the first economy – the home economy.
In this new time, we're ready partners in making this the "The Age of the Neighbor Investor & Developer," where we are owners of the real estate and the businesses in the places where we live. and where we live the conservation lifestyle. All of this will stabilize our communities and keep a promise too long deferred.
Blacks In Green™ promises to keep doing our part: creating green infrastructure with our cistern-based storm water management plan; sustainable food production with our emerging community in backyard gardens and farms; housing innovations with our upcoming "Urban Homestead Lifestyle" developments, green new construction affordable to the black middle-class; preservation of place, with our abandoned home renovation plans; and cultivating the commercial corridor – we planted 45 trees on 61st Street as part of our "61st Street Tree Canopy Initiative" which we launched at the 2015 Woodlawn Summit; and open space/placemaking with our proposed "16 Great Migration Centennial Gardens of West Woodlawn." And look for services from our upcoming Community Solar program: outreach and education; household subscription; workforce training; and assembly, installation, and maintenance.
To our cousins in the African Diaspora, we are 'calling our children home' – calling you home to West Woodlawn and into the full spectrum of our Great Migration legacy communities across this country – where our ancestors landed, loved, lived, and gave their all to build the city's we've called great. We thank you for joining us in this noble and necessary endeavor. We visit you from the state of mind called 'love and persistence'.
We're BIG™ because you are.
Granny : )