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Rooted Communities

Rooted Communities is a developing non-profit based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Rooted Communities is working towards the restoration and development of 33 properties clustered in the Fairmount neighborhoods. This development includes creation of the Starlight Center and Market Gardens, numerous residential home improvements, and the clean up, restoration, and gardening of several vacant lots.

Starlight Center

The Starlight Mission Baptist Church (also once known as the Golden Hill Baptist Church) used to be a thriving, contributing, member of the community...

but, for years residents watched as the building decayed and the grounds became overgrown. In the last 10 years, the church has been largely restored into a private home. The owner of this iconic local feature is working with Rooted Communities to make the church a contributing member of the community once again.

The upcoming Starlight Center will be the future home of all Rooted Community activities and events. It will also headquarter the events of Circle of Mother Earth, our 501c3 financial sponsor. The center could be developed to include a cafeteria serving public meals and incubating food related micro businesses, laundry and bathing facilities for community members, wood working and small appliance repair workshops, Fine, Folk, and Domestic arts training classes, and event space for music and lectures. We look forward to working with other community groups and non profits to bring this space to the community, develop programs, and identify resources and volunteers to operate projects at the Starlight Center.

Our Ideas

We are reaching out to other community and non-profit groups for help to develop our ideas. 

Our neighborhood residents face issues in three key areas: Housing, Transportation, and Employment. At the same time they have limited access to resources like employment opportunities and fresh food. We will focus on growing opportunities for residents that impact these areas. At the same time, we seek to elevate community aesthetics and encourage community engagement through self-sufficiency and arts programming. By combining these elements into a holistic, whole community approach, we "root" the community materially and socially, which prepares it for long-term growth.

We know there are individuals and organizations who have already figured out solutions to our key issues or have experience in community revitalization. If you have any related skills or contacts, please reach out to us.

Housing

People can not build wealth if they are not housed. Rooted Communities will offer affordable long-term housing support accommodations to 16 existing low income residents across 10 properties. We would like to increase the number of rentals available to low income individuals and families by 50% by 2024. We do this by purchasing and rehabilitating condemned housing within the community. We would like to acquire four condemned properties within in the community by 2026 specifically earmarked to be rehabilitated and sold to low income families seeking to root themselves in the local community. We would like to place renters that want to stay in the community into buying agreements. We are currently working through the process to legally accept donations towards these goals.

Transportation

Public transportation options in the community are limited. Many people rely on privately owned vehicles. Vehicle repair and maintenance can be prohibitively expensive for low income residents. A broken vehicle is a quick ticket to missing critical appointments, loosing employment, truancy, and other hindrances to building household stability or generational wealth. Rooted Communities hopes to offer a low-cost/free repair shop for neighborhood residents by 2025. As of current, we have a location that could be purposed into a small repair shop. In addition, we will work to promote the expansion of current low cost transportation options, like scooters and bikes, into our neighborhood. In the future, we hope to be involved in the development of a free shuttle service from N. Fairmont to UC and Downtown.

Employment

Rooted Communities seeks to increase employment in the community by partnering with micro and small business start-ups in the area. We are currently partnering with Progressive Contracting, a local General Contracting company in the neighborhood by offering access to tools, equipment, and staging areas, to clean and restore the properties. Progressive Contracting hopes to provide good paying jobs to community members without college degrees and is currently seeking employees with general labor and skilled trade experience. In the future, Progressive Contracting hopes to sponsor woodworking and small appliance repair self sufficiency workshops at Starlight Center.

Protecting our existing community's assets is critical

Elevating Community Aesthetic

Our neighborhoods are contradictory. They are lush and leafy, full of cool green spaces and charming older homes. They are also over-grown, litter prone, victims of illegal dumping.

To combat the negative impact poor community aesthetic has on community engagement and property values, Rooted Communities has targeted 33 properties for improvements. These improvements include: Litter clean-up and reporting of illegal dumping, edible and non-edible landscaping, and the development of community garden plots. They are in progress and on-going.

Rooted Communities hopes to develop Starlight Market Gardens, a farmer's market and spice garden, within the community in the near future. At current, we have the property to do so. We are seeking volunteers and partnerships with other organizations to help assist in the work of preparing the area.

Startlight Market Gardens

In the over-grown lots near the Starlight Center we envision the creation of the Starlight Market Gardens, a farmer's market and spice garden. We plan to clear and level the land, leaving the mature trees to provide shade, and adding edible, perma-culture plants and spice gardens for landscaping. We plan to add a number of electrified concrete slabs upon which market carts and displays can be placed. We envision a pavilion for gatherings and performances along with public grills and benches.

The market will provide a place for the sale or donation of community garden produce, local vendors, and will provide a hub for commerce and social interaction on the corner of Baltimore and Beekman Avenue. This location is well traveled by commuter traffic, locally recognized, visible from Cincinnati State University, and within reasonable walking distance of Jewel's Soul Food and the Millvale Health Center.

Our Vision

Food Security as a path to Generational Wealth

Market forces and discriminatory regulations can make it difficult for low income communities to provide access to fresh food to their residents. A network of community gardens, perma-cultured lots, and a year-round farmer's market will enhance the existing network of food pantries in the area to help create true food security for at risk community members. Having access to nutritional, low-cost, fresh produce increases community generational wealth by:

  1. Reducing the amount families spend on food (money that can be saved and invested).
  2. Helping the local community prevent disease and manage chronic illness through healthy food options, thus reducing healthcare costs.
  3. Protecting the local community against rises in predatory, scarcity driven, fresh food prices by providing a local alternative.
  4. Creating development opportunities for micro-businesses in food production and preparation goods and services.

Who are we?

Organizer, Rooted Communities

Jamie Sue Austin

Jamie Sue Austin is an artist and writer working in micro business and community development.

Owner, Progressive Contracting

Tony North

This fledgling neighborhood general contracting company was formed with the goal to fund business incubation in the neighborhood.

Fiscal Sponsor

Circle of Mother Earth

Circle of Mother Earth is a 501c3 registered church that provides spiritual guidance and programs to the alt religion community of Cincinnati.

Your Organization

YOU!

Join us in the effort to revitalize our neighborhood.

We can't do this alone.

How can you help?

First and foremost, this is an expensive endeavor. The best way to help is to donate money. Cash donations can be made through our fiscal sponsor, Circle of Mother Earth. Donations of building materials, heavy equipment rental, lawn care supplies, hand tools, and above all, labor hours, are greatly appreciated and will get us closer to our goals.

Would you like to receive updates in the future? Do you have resources, contacts, skills, or advice to share? Reach out to us!