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A Sustainable Eco-Village is Rising in Highland Park

Avalon Village will promote self-sufficiency, learning, and economic development

Avalon Village Michelle & Chris Gerard

On a block and a city that's been blighted and ignored for too long, a group of citizens in Highland Park is building what they hope will be a self-sustaining community for their children, elders, and neighbors.

It's called Avalon Village, and the first phase kicked off earlier this week.

Led by Shamayim "Mama Shu" Harris, the first phase includes two projects. The first is renovating an abandoned home that they're calling the Homework House, which will be a place of nurturing for kids to come, eat a healthy meal, get help with their school work, and to learn about food and urban survival. The house will also have activity courts built next door. The second is the Goddess Marketplace, a shipping container-based economic initiative for women where they can sell their goods and food. Landscaping will also be part of this first phase, which should be completed by September 23.

Avalon Village
Mama Shu
Michelle & Chris Gerard

Avalon Village will incorporate green initiatives into each project, such as rain barrels that will catch rain water, geothermal heating and cooling wells under the activity courts, composting with worms which can be then sold as bait, solar panels, and solar streetlights.

The group hopes to create an empowering village of self-sufficiency where they can sustain themselves with as little outside help as possible. They plan to improve infrastructure in their village with environmentally sound plans.

Mama Shu has had this vision of a village for many years. In 2007, her two year old son Jakobi Ra was hit and killed by a car. The park next to the Homework House was built in his honor. The block is notorious for crime and death and she wants to turn the energy from her grief into something that can bring joy.

Avalon Village Michelle & Chris Gerard

The community will be working on the project together. They've also launched a Kickstarter campaign, which raised almost 20% of their goal in their first three days. Here's a look at the neighborhood.