Shamayim "Mama Shu" Harris, Avalon Village

Shamayim “Mama Shu” Harris is working to transform a multi-block blighted area in Highland Park into Avalon Village, a sustainable, multi-block eco-development

That first house will become the Homework House, featuring computer and STEM labs, a recording studio, and space for kids to study, learn, and get healthy meals. Then she built a park over three blighted blocks in her son’s name, calling it Jakobi Ra Park. Eventually, the holistic village will be comprised of a marketplace, wellness center, greenhouse, and more.

Her vision is to have all the services necessary for a small city on one block while also being eco-conscious and sustainable by incorporating geothermal heating and cooling.

“That’s the way this village has to run because it’s more affordable,” Harris says. “We don’t have a lot of resources to pay for gas, lights, and water, which are getting cut off around here. My thing is, let’s think of something else that works. We can use natural resources, and they don’t cost anything. We can use those as much as possible and then the rest of the funds can go towards programming and projects.”