Forgotten Communities <br />environmental justice and <br />building a green society<br />
who we are <br />Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois and founded in 1978 by its current president, Tippi Reed, OAI’s mission is to empower and enhance the capacity of underrepresented, impoverished individuals and communities through training & education.<br />To accomplish this, OAI develops and implements programs that help individuals access educational and employment opportunities leading to economic-self sufficiencyand the chance to live healthy, safe lives. <br />
our commitment to<br />environmental sustainability & social justice <br /><ul><li>Recipient of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) training grants since 1995 and EPA Brownfields Job Training grants since 2001.
Provide worker health and safety training to workers nationwide.
Provide skills and training necessary for employment in environmental and related jobs, especially within poor communities and communities of color (Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City).</li></li></ul><li>An Environmental Justice Community in Need<br />chicago's west side<br /> an underserved community of color<br />High concentration of brownfield sites and neglected lots<br />
Food Desert<br />lack of affordable <br />access to healthy food<br />Targeted Area:<br />Alarmingly high rates of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease among residents.<br />
CommuniTree<br />an urban agroforestry demonstration project on Chicago's west side<br />Agro’ fo’ res’ try an integrative, sustainable, land use system which combines the growing of trees and crops to optimize production, bio-diversity and profitability<br />
Project Genesis<br />a public-private partnership<br /><ul><li>2009 City of Chicago’s Tree Initiative (CTI) established to promote increasing the urban forest.
2009 Community Development Block Grant of $225,000 made available through ARRA funding to pay for 10 interns over a 2 year period to work in environmentally related jobs in underserved communities.
2009 OAI partners with Cob Connection, an urban agriculture non-profit, to create the CommuniTree program. The program began in January, 2010.</li></li></ul><li>The Project<br />how we started<br />Identify empty lots and negotiate with owners and city zoning to use them for growing trees and plants<br />Screen and hire west-side residents with multiple employment barriers, who demonstrate a willingness to engage in transforming their lives andaslice of their community.<br />
Employees of the program are paid $10.50 per hour for 30 hours per week.<br />
Work includes on-the job-training<br /> in urban agroforestry techniques.<br />
CommuniTree interns learn basic construction skills utilizing recycled materials. This example shows the Drake Garden Farm Stand.<br />
How We Did It<br />Funding challenges and solutions<br /><ul><li>Employees paid 100% by ARRA funds administered by Chicago’s Department of the Environment.
On-the-job training paid for by leveraging State of Illinois Job Training & Economic Development (JTED) funds.
Grants from various foundations, including the Boeing Foundation, helped fund staff pay.
Revenue from the sale of food, honey, trees and natural pesticides at Farmers Markets created additional revenue streams.
Material, soil, seeds, plants, equipment and more were paid for by the above funding and supplied through donations.</li></li></ul><li>Teaching New Entrepreneurs<br />job skills that are also <br />good for the environment<br /><ul><li>Advance horticultural techniques
Basics of micro-enterprise</li></li></ul><li>Learning to become environmental stewards through environmental literacy<br />integration of rain barrels <br />community program participants<br />
re-claimed wood from derelict, <br />abandoned, drug house<br />gardens and hoop house made from <br />re-claimed wood<br />
The “Donald”<br />new apprentices<br /><ul><li>Garden installation and maintenance of terrace kitchen garden for Sixteen Trump Tower restaurant.
Farmers’ Market at Trump Tower – expanding customer relations and market management skills.</li></ul>Chef’s garden at Trump Tower<br />Chef Frank Brunacci & CommuniTree interns review the garden they’re going to transform on the 16th floor of Trump Tower.<br />
The garden includes edible flowers and multiple season herbs.<br />
Incorporating<br />design and sustainability<br />www.designcollaboratives.com<br />Design Collaboratives is an interdisciplinary design and architecture studio bringing comprehensive expertise to non-profit community organizations and programs. DC collaborates with Cob Connection, OAI, Chicago Department of Environment, AHC and Greencorps to create innovative solutions. <br />
Incorporating<br />design and sustainability<br />Poster for EPA conference <br />by Design Collaboratives<br />
Incorporating<br />design and sustainability<br />CommuniTree interns help School of the Art Institute students develop models for farm stands. <br />
Rendering of concept hoop house with retractable roof shown by SAIC students at west side community meeting<br />
Community Benefits<br />beyond the simply quantifiable<br /><ul><li>Increased awareness of and access to healthy and affordable food
Farmers market surpluses go to local food pantry
Community pride: family, friends and neighbors often pitch in and prevent trespassers from entering</li></ul>Policy Advocacy<br /><ul><li>Lobby city hall for 10% land set aside of</li></ul> unused property for local food production<br /><ul><li>Promote phyto- and microbial remediation</li></ul> of contaminated land<br />
friends and community residents help clean vegetables……<br />…..and build straw bale walls for the vegetable stand<br />
Engaging the community on farm service day<br />
What we’ve learned from CommuniTree<br /><ul><li>Listen to community residents: they know better than anyone what the neighborhood is like and what they need
Ensure that leveraged and donated resources are in place and available
An analysis of economy of scale is useful in determining viability of a future social enterprise
Develop and maintain strong ties to community residents & leaders, city council members and city zoning to help champion the mission and identify empty lots</li></li></ul><li>Replicable Revenue Streams<br /><ul><li>Bike the Farm: bike tour of 4 neighborhood farm sites and vegetarian dinner made from vegetables grown on site ($25 per person, sold out every Friday)
Natural Pesticides: sold at farmers markets ($10 to $15 per bottle)
Roots for Christmas: leasing, delivery and pickup of live potted Christmas trees ($100 per tree, sold out 2 weeks following CBS news report)
CommuniTree Honey: very popular at farmers markets ($12 to $15 a jar)</li></li></ul><li>Forgotten Communities <br />environmental justice and <br />building a green society<br />Tippi Reed, President firstname.lastname@example.org<br />Alex Prentzas, Director email@example.com<br />
Growing and Healing – CommuniTree Intern Justin Quinones Gains Skills for a New Life<br />Justin has come a long way from the days when he thought the only way to make money was to sell drugs or physically assault someone and take their possessions. <br />A few years ago, Justin chose the latter and ended up in prison charged with armed robbery. Luckily for Justin, he was selected for an internal work release program, where he worked on a farm learning how to grow food and take care of plants.<br />This experience had a profound effect on Justin and sparked an interest which would eventually change his life. Following his release in 2008 Justin looked for employment, with no success. <br />Finally, Justin found a training program offered by Association House in Chicago that allowed him to work on his past thoughts and behavior patterns. While attending a session on moral cognitive therapy, Justin learned about a job<br />opportunity with CommuniTree, an urban agroforestry project operated by Cob Connection in partnership with OAI.<br /> <br />
At the end of 2009, Justin was invited to Try-Outs to compete for a position with Cob Connection to work on the CommuniTree project. Try-Outs is a competitive process where applicants are evaluated based on skills testing, observed interactions with others during team exercises and demonstrated motivation to complete assigned tasks. The process was very competitive but the evaluators saw the tenacity and enthusiasm Justin displayed. He was selected as a member of the CommuniTree team beginning in January, 2010.<br />Justin, along with four other CommuniTree team members, has become an environmental steward in his community on Chicago’s west side, conducting informational sessions to other community residents on the benefits of locally grown food and planting trees. <br /> <br />After demonstrating skill gains and an ability to supervise others, Justin and his four CommuniTree colleagues were given promotions to become crew leaders to supervise a new cohort of interns at the beginning of the growing season. They were each in charge of 10 other interns and were given a pay increase in acknowledgement of their increased skills and responsibilities. <br /> <br />Justin has also learned to carry out tasks independently while also being able to delegate to others when necessary.<br />As an example of Justin’s resilience and sound judgment, when he had to leave his home while working on the CommuniTree project, Justin found himself homeless for a short period at the beginning of the year. Rather than going back to the streets, Justin reached out to his new network for help and, with a sense of empowerment, found himself an apartment to move into. <br /> <br />Today, Justin is still living in that apartment, is engaged, and grows great vegetables like no one else. Justin also wants to start his own farming business after he leaves Cob Connection. Thanks to the skills and confidence he has gained through working at Cob Connection, we have no doubt that Justin will make that dream happen.<br />