With a grant from The Kresge Foundation, the City of Providence will continue work on a project to combine healthy food & Creative Placemaking as part of the FreshLo initiative
Providence, RI – Mayor Elorza announced that the City of Providence has received a two-year, $200,000 grant from The Kresge Foundation for Sowing Place. The project is made possible through a partnership between City of Providence Department of Art, Culture + Tourism, City of Providence Healthy Communities Office, the African Alliance of Rhode Island (AARI), Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island, West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation and the Southside Cultural Center of Rhode Island.
Providence is one of 23 organizations from across the U.S. receiving a grant as part of The Kresge Foundation’s initiative, Fresh, Local & Equitable (FreshLo), which supports neighborhood-scale projects leveraging healthy food and Creative Placemaking for equitable economic development.
“We are the Creative Capital and that means that we support the artistic and innovative communities here in our city,” said Mayor Jorge Elorza. “We appreciate the investment that Kresge’s FreshLo initiative has made, and continues to make, in our neighborhoods. This work and the work of our partners have allowed us to deepen our community connections and support innovative projects in the arts, food and health sectors while promoting equity citywide.“
After being selected to participate in FreshLo in 2016, the City and partners completed a one-year planning phase for Sowing Place with a $75,000 grant from Kresge. During the past year, the group strengthened their community partnerships, hired artist facilitators (Vatic Kuumba and Laura Brown-Lavoie) to guide the project and lead community engagement, collaborated on pilot arts-integrated and site-specific market events and designed an implementation plan.
“We’re inspired by the work of Providence and how they engaged neighborhood residents to create a shared vision for Sowing Place,” said Stacey Barbas, senior program officer with Kresge’s Health Program. “Over the last year, this organization has worked tirelessly to develop a project that reflects the culture and values of their neighborhoods.”
FreshLo embodies The Kresge Foundation’s philosophy that catalytic change to improve opportunity for low-income persons in America’s cities requires multidimensional approaches – not simply one program or sector working alone. By incorporating Creative Placemaking – the deliberate integration of arts, culture and community-engaged design into comprehensive community development – residents and community partners can creatively address complex issues such as food insecurity, vacancy and health outcomes.
“Over the past year, we have worked with the City and its partners to move through the creative process of designing a group project that each partner felt committed to,” said the artist facilitation team of Vatic Kuumba and Laura Brown-Lavoie in a project statement. “We are here to ensure that this project is an art project from its very inception, with the playful and visionary spirit that such an attitude provides.”
Over the next two years, the City of Providence, along with partners, plans to increase capacity for local food growers and artistic vendors by maximizing collaborative assets and integrating arts into food-oriented activities. During the implementation phase, Sowing Place will:
- Develop and support cooperative and micro business trainings specifically oriented for neighborhood food and arts vendors
- Increase the Sankofa Market footprint through collaboration and market extension at the Southside Cultural Center’s Southlight Pavilion
- Support the launch of new AARI pop-up markets at neighborhood healthcare facilities
- Connect community partners to ongoing and emerging City initiatives to strengthen public/private relationships and collaborative visioning
About the City of Providence Partnership
The Providence Department of Art, Culture + Tourism (AC+T) ensures the continued development of a vibrant and creative city by integrating arts and culture into community life while showcasing Providence as an international cultural destination. The Department works to support, engage, and encourage the creative sector’s participation in civic life. AC+T collaborates with other City departments and partners across the the city to present public programs and PVDFest, to implement creative placemaking initiatives, to promote art, culture, and creativity, and to advance the community-wide goals through the city’s cultural policy, initiatives, and investment.
The Providence Healthy Communities Office (HCO) is the City’s lead agency for health policy, activities, and systems and environmental changes. The HCO works to ensure that Providence residents have equitable access to the resources they need to lead healthy lives. The HCO collaborates with other departments and community partners on wide variety of population health-related initiatives such as substance abuse prevention, healthy food access, chronic disease management, active lifestyles, and creative playspaces.
About the Community Partners
The African Alliance of Rhode Island (AARI) is a community-based organization that promotes unity, economic empowerment and common good among African and other immigrants and refugees living in Rhode Island. For more than a decade, AARI has worked with diverse populations of refugees and immigrants in Providence’s poorest neighborhoods to develop urban farming projects that produce fresh ethnic vegetables for people living in food deserts. The African Alliance is dedicated to promoting healthy life styles for all and helping promote resources that improve health, economic opportunities and increase interaction and collaborations with the general population.
The Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island (EJLRI) is a non-profit organization working within an alliance of individuals to promote environmental justice in Rhode Island through advocacy, education, networking, organizing, and research. Their mission is to promote safe and healthy environments for ALL by building power, leadership and action in the communities most affected by environmental burdens. EJLRI envisions a Rhode Island where we all have a healthy place to live, work, and play regardless of race, ethnicity, or income.
The Southside Cultural Center of Rhode Island (SCCRI) connects, cultivates and engages community through the arts. SCCRI envisions a vibrant, connected community engaged in discovering, exploring, and creating art. The heartbeat of its Southside, West End, and Elmwood neighborhoods, SCCRI nurtures the voices of artists of color and cultivates leaders who lift up our people. The warmth, enthusiasm, and unity of the cultural hub echo throughout Rhode Island, and serves as an example of inclusive art making, kinship, and cultural expression.
West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation (WEHDC) is a private, not-for-profit organization incorporated in 1970. The mission is to promote the development of healthy, sustainable communities through housing services to help individuals and neighborhoods meet their affordable housing needs in the West End neighborhood and other parts of Providence and Rhode Island. WEHDC strives to fulfill this mission by enabling home ownership, community engagement and economic development.
About The Kresge Foundation
The Kresge Foundation is a $3.5 billion private, national foundation that works to expand opportunities in America’s cities through grantmaking and social investing in arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services, and community development in Detroit. In 2016, the Board of Trustees approved 474 grants totaling $141.5 million, and made 14 social investment commitments totaling $50.8 million. For more information, visit kresge.org.