Welcome to Avalon Village. In the middle of one of Detroit's most blighted and abandoned neighborhoods, Shamayim 'SHU' Harris and her team of engineers, futurists, artists, urban farmers and their nationwide allies are reimagining public and private space. This is an invitation to step into the village with us…
Where schools have been defunded and closed down, we are building a Homework House. Where city streetlights have been repossessed and people left in the dark, we're building cooperatively-owned and operated solar streetlights. Where healthy food offerings are few and far between, we're building a greenhouse-to-cafe food system.
After years of patient work acquiring the land, seeking the permits, and building our expert team, we're finally ready to birth this baby. Phase 1 is scheduled to be completed by late-September 2016. It will cost us almost $250,000*, employ dozens of local workers, and rally hundreds of volunteers to our city.
*Our line-item budget actually totals $241,900
Let us show you around the village!
A Different Way to Power Ourselves – Sustainable Green Infrastructure
Detroit put the world on wheels. We are a city of builders and innovators. We're proud to be the site of Highland Park's first solar streetlight, installed in 2014 by community organization Soulardarity. We're taking the next step in rethinking municipal power and water on our entire block.
In 2014, the city of Detroit began cutting off water service to nearly half the city residents for non-payment. Our water system is highly indebted and inefficient. While many can't afford their monthly water bill, heavy rains flood roads and concrete parking lots. We will capture rainwater on roofs and in retention ponds to feed our year-round sub-terrain greenhouses and flush our toilets.
A Different Way to Eat – Greenhouse-To-Cafe Food System
We know how vital a healthy diet is, especially for our children. All around us we see convenience stores with snack foods and very little fresh produce. The good news is that community gardening is on the rise all around us, and so we're converting empty lots into greenhouses and urban farms. Then we'll sell the produce in the Avalon Village Farmers Market and Blue Moon Cafe – built out of an abandoned gas station!
A Different Way to Shop – The Goddess Marketplace
In 2014, the last time it was measured, Highland Park's (official) unemployment rate was over 23%, or nearly four times the national average. Our talented and creative people are ready to work but struggle to find jobs. That's why we created The Goddess Marketplace, an empowerment initiative for women to produce and sell their wares. It's the economic engine of Avalon Village and our entire neighborhood, building the confidence of young local entrepreneurs and artisans.
We're going to move the Goddess Marketplace outdoors into modular shipping container architecture. It's low-cost and will keep the rents down for our vendors. And we'll be able to hold regular open markets and events to invite the public in to shop.
A Different Way to Learn – The Homework House
We're turning an abandoned house into a K-12 academic support center for our youth. Our village tutors will provide free mentoring and homework assistance in a safe and nurturing atmosphere filled with love and care.
Our curriculum will be the world around us: an immersive, exploratory outdoor urban/rural laboratory. To support our studies, the Homework House will be equipped with:
- Community Study Space
- Outdoor Recreational Activity Courts
- A Computer Lab
- Aquaponics System
- STEM Lab
- Greenspace Kitchen and Pantry
- Greywater Recycling System
- Audio/Visual Production Studio
The Homework House is excellent for independent parent households, allowing them the time necessary to unwind and prepare for the next day before their children arrive home. We also understand that some of our families are limited on food and money, so we'll provide a healthy after-school meal to each participant. Some family situations may call for the elders to raise their grandchildren, so the Homework House will help by working with the elders and assisting them with the basic needs of the children.
A Different Way to Heal – The Healing House
In Phase 1, we'll demolish the vacant house at 94 Avalon Street to pave way for a Healing House and an adjacent greenhouse + hoop-house. When completed in a later phase, the Healing House will be a one-stop shop for restorative and rejuvenating healing practices like reiki, yoga and massage.
This section does not have stretch or super-stretch goalsas we won't be completing construction of the Healing House until Phase 2 – stay tuned!
A Different Way to Serve – The Moon Ministry
Community service is at the heart of Avalon Village. Since 2001 Shu directs the Moon Ministry, a pluralistic and non-sectarian charitable organization that helps her neighbors “nurture self-knowledge, self-enhancement, and self-realization” through direct service. Supported by private generosity as well as proceeds from the Goddess Marketplace, the Moon Ministry holds annual community concerts (Reggae in the ‘Hood), seasonal events (Hayrides in the ‘Hood) and the annual Hood Camp: Urban Survival for Today’s Youth. At Hood Camp, young people learn all about outdoor living as they camp outside for a night on Avalon Street!
With your support, we'll upgrade the headquarters of the Moon Ministry at 24 Avalon with a much-needed new front porch, interior/exterior painting and spot repairs, and more.
A Different Way to Imagine the Future – A Safe Space for Visionaries
Detroit has always been at the forefront of social change: the cradle of the labor movement, home of the automobile, and now we're redefining community development in a 21st century economy. Urban farmers, start-up technologists, futurists, and visionaries of every kind are descending on Detroit to envision new ways of living and working in a post-industrial economy. We want Avalon Village to be a safe space for visionary thinking.
Risks and challenges
We've consulted for years with some of the smartest contractors in Detroit about our project, and we're confident that their cost estimates are fair and realistic. As with any major construction project, we've added in contingency costs in the case of unexpected occurrences along the way, so we're confident our goal will allow us to do what we say we're going to do with your money in Phase 1: lay the foundation for a beautiful village.
If we reach our *stretch* goals, we'll take things even further. This four-phase construction project is anticipated to take us into 2020 to complete, and cost around $4,000,000 (for materials and paid labor) plus a whole lot of in-kind donations of supplies and volunteer labor.
We can't express how sincerely we appreciate you putting your faith – and your hard-earned Benjamins - in our hands. We'll be totally transparent with you, our donors, along the way as we dig in on this exciting project. Here we go!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)