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Avalon Village will get a solar roof; Mama Shu to appear on Ellen show

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Turning blight to beauty in Highland Park

Michelle & Chris Gerard

It’s been a busy few weeks as Avalon Village leads up to its Grand Opening on September 23. In case you missed it, this block in Highland Park is going from blight to beauty, as Shamayim "Mama Shu" Harris leads community members and volunteers in creating a self-sustaining eco-village. This block and community has been severely blighted through the years. Mama Shu’s son 2-year-old son Jakobi Ra was hit and killed by a car in 2007, and she’s working to turn the energy from her grief into something that can bring joy.

This project includes converting an abandoned home into a Homework House for the local kids, creating a goddess marketplace out of a shipping container, and turning lots into activity courts. Much of that is well underway.

The grand opening for Phase One of Avalon Village is September 23. The weekend schedule will be:

"Friday – "Community Day" an official ribbon-cutting ceremony, community bonfire and free village concert featuring local and nationally-recognized artists and performers.

Saturday – "Back to School Day" a day of celebration of our proud youth including a school supplies giveaway

Sunday – "Movie in the Park Day" an outdoor movie projection complete with popcorn, hot dogs and soda"

But before all that excitement, two big events will happen.

First, Mama Shu will be on the Ellen show next Wednesday!

Next, the Homework House is getting a solar roof donated and installed by Luma Resources, a company that gained national noteriety after being singled out by Obama at the 2011 State of the Union address. These are different than any other solar roof, in that the shingles are the solar panels. It’s a first of its kind technology, says Robert Allen from LUMA, in its solar metal shingles. They didn’t go looking for the product, he says. Instead, it came to them and they’ve been nurturing it ever since. Their 3 kilowatts system should offset approximately 50% of the energy costs for the house.

The donation is the first for their philanthropic arm, their Light to Dark Places initiative. Highland Park has very few streetlights and the first solar streetlight in the city is in Avalon Village. Allen says they’re delighted to launch Light to Dark Places in Avalon Village.

The system installs quickly, and the solar roof should be installed and ready right before the Grand Opening weekend.

Here are a few more pics and some links on how to get involved.

Avalon Village

24 Avalon St, Highland Park, MI 48203, USA