A grant from Neighborhood Allies helped fund Phase 1 of the Homewood Living Lab project–which is a resident-driven, collaborative initiative envisioned to be a network of parks and gardens and an educational facility–complete with an air monitoring system, wind turbine, rain garden, bioswale, an outdoor micro-farm, and a greenhouse that will be home to two Mobile Edible Wall units.
With support from Neighborhood Allies, three Homewood leaders re-imagined their work together through the planning process for a Living Lab.
Mr. Fred Brown of Homewood Children’s Village, Mr. Jerome Jackson of Operation Better Block and Dr. John Wallace of Bible Center and their respective organizations are working hard everyday to support families by improving the education, creating a pipeline to living-wage employment, mobilizing community residents as well as catalyzing business and home ownership.
“Neighborhood Allies’ support provided the seed funding to pause from other work to give our leaders some time to think more deeply about our collaborative work and begin making progress to plan our first of many HCV-OBB-BC collaborative projects, the Living Lab.”
-Fred Brown, Homewood Children’s Village
In January 2017, these leaders shared their goals to help Homewood to flourish. From January to May, they set aside time from their busy schedules to brainstorm how to find the sweet spot for collaborative projects to facilitate a sustainable Homewood and more engaged community residents. Their staff also met to discuss existing progress and new possibilities for strengthened partnership and shared resources. At the end of the six months, the following areas emerged as intentional areas for partnership for these three organizations: the living lab, internal and external communication; community strategy and collective impact goals; education, especially STEAM projects; cultural preservation; and health promotion. To advance this work would also require a shared project manager and other shared resources including funding.
Over the course of the last few months, the Living Lab plans have been shaped by staff and community input to create a conceptual design. This work is framed using the Eco District protocol for comprehensive community development, a radical community transformation process committed to equity, resilience and climate protection. The Living Lab project includes a sustainability demonstration area with a bio-shelter and aquaponics system; outdoor classroom; a cooking and gathering space; African American Heritage Farm; Demonstration gardens as well as interpretive walls for arts and culture enrichment.
Neighborhood Allies support of Phase 1 of the Homewood Living Lab leveraged funding to sponsor 7 Homewood community leaders to attend the EcoDistrict Incubator in Portland, Oregon, where the group met to discuss and learn about ways to expand the Living Lab work to create a Living Lab Campus with support from the local government and universities. And, this summer, the collaborative will be completing the African American Hertitage Garden with support from Chatham University and resident volunteers.
For more information on this project, visit our website!