Community Village Building: Blacks in Green


With global warming, access to fresh, healthy food and economic disempowerment ravaging our communities, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the problems that face us. Thankfully, organizations like Blacks in Green (B.I.G.), a Chicago-based community education and trade organization founded by Naomi Davis, are digging deep for lasting solutions that will save our planet and our neighborhoods.

Born in Chicago on Earth Day 2007, B.I.G. aims to empower the African American community by incorporating green job skills into its education program in order to expand employment opportunities for this historically marginalized community. Through this education program, Blacks In Green seeks to create and sustain environmentally conscious neighbor-owned businesses in black communities throughout the country, and inspire these communities towards social, psychological and economic empowerment through the burgeoning green economy.

In order to create these “self-sustaining African diaspora communities,” B.I.G. sets forth eight founding principles for building green villages. First, each village should have its own measures, exchanges, and sources of wealth. Second, each village must locally produce energy for personal and public uses. Next, basic goods and services are supplied and recycled within the village. Each village will also provide low-income housing and green gardens that produce high quality food. Within the village, neighbors will celebrate their shared heritage through both news and entertainment. Each village will have interdependent local ties and perceptible borders. Village hubs will be epicenters for green training, development, and lifestyle transformation. Lastly, neighbor-owned businesses invent, invest, manufacture, and merchandise locally in order to circulate wealth throughout the community.

B.I.G. founder Naomi Davis cites her own childhood in the sixties and her legacy as the granddaughter of Mississippi sharecroppers as sources of inspiration for Blacks In Green. For Davis, the notion of green villages is a modern twist on the family farm. Rather than leaving land stewardship as a figment of the past, Davis sees green villages as a way to push the African American community forward.

To keep the community connected and informed, B.I.G. hosts numerous educational and networking events throughout the year. The third Friday of each month on the traditionally African-American South side of Chicago, it holds Environmental Education Afternoon Workshops and Evening Programs for both youth and adult members. Each Third Friday program features a different environmental theme, such as water use, renewable energy, green media, and environmental legislation. Blacks In Green’s next Third Friday event will be held on August 21, 2009, and will address green communication media and introduce the organization’s weekly media roundtable.

To learn more about Blacks In Green, check out their website and events page at www.blacksingreen.org.

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