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Highland Park’s Avalon Village will be reality … transformed from blight to beauty to eco-friendly


Shamayim “Shu” Harris is going to realize her dream.

Avalon Village, a one block reconstruction and reimaging project in Highland Park, will become a reality.

Harris and her team launched a $241,900 Kickstarter campaign that ended June 23.  The campaign netted $243,691 raised from 1,511 backers – exceeding the goal by $1,791 — and she and her team are on the way.

“We did it. Together,” she says in a thank you letter on the Kickstarter page. “This dream of building a safe space for our children and neighbors was born out of the tragedy of my son’s death nine years ago, when I had to decide whether to fall into despair or to rise up to honor Jakobi Ra’s memory by creating peace and love. Today, you all confirmed for me that I made the right decision. Thank you so very much.”


Workers are already busy at Avalon Village.

They are laying concrete where shipping container installations be turned into Goddess Marketplace where local women can sell their products.

They are gutting a 1920s brick house and turning it into Homework House where kids can come after school for tutoring and meals. It will also offer GED preparedness programs, have a mini library, a recording room, and washing machines as well as extra socks and belts. Many kids don’t always have clean clothes and are short socks and belts. the blighted, empty house that we’ll soon fill up with desks, books, teachers and chefs who will feed the minds and the bellies of our youth.

They’re trimming the grass and clearing debris on abandoned lots that will be turned into basketball, tennis and volleyball courts and greenhouses that will grow fresh foods year-round.

For more information on what’s happening at Avalon Village please see our recent story.

“Over the next few months, we’ll be sending you updates as we ramp up construction on the village,” Harris says. “We’re also always looking for volunteers to join us here for clean-up days, our summer outdoor youth sleepover ‘Hood Camp’, or online volunteering of your tech or design skills.”

If you would like updates you can join the volunteer e-blast to receive our newsletter and stay up on all the local happenings and volunteer opportunities here at the village.


Shu Harris

“We created Avalon Village to show on just one block of one city that another kind of living is possible,” Harris says. “And we believe this idea is so simple and powerful that it can’t help but spread across our broken city into other neighborhoods in need of healing.

“We are going to transform this blight into beauty and lift up the spirits of so many downtrodden people in our great city. This is a marathon, not a sprint: we are committed for the long haul to this work of resurrecting hope from the dark chapters of the past. We can’t wait to work in partnership with you to build a future we can all be safe and joyful in.”

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