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Perfect Timing

Day 18: Perfect Timing

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 KJV

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Happy Eighteenth Day of Thanks Everyone!

For those of you who have been on this journey with me for quite some time, you are aware of my amazing community organization, South Bronx Unite (SBU), which fights for environmental, economic, social, and health justice for the South Bronx, particularly the Mott Haven-Port Morris section of the Bronx. For the last ten years, in addition to fighting hard for our hood, we've been fighting for a 28,000 square foot property in my hood to turn it into a community center for our neighborhood. 

We have endured the test of time,  outlasting 2 mayors, 2 congressional members, and 2 council persons. Two months ago, the NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC) released a request for proposal to apply for the building. The request for proposal maintained that the building had to be a community center, focusing on health, education, and the arts, which aligned with our very mission for the building.

Recently, I was in conversation with a community architect who has been our team's  architectural consultant since the beginning. As we were reminiscing over the ten years and all the hard work done and produced from this project, we both had a eureka moment. As much as we all would have wanted this project to happen ten years ago, when we first started, it would not have been possible. Ten years ago, there was not as much traction on the topic of environmental justice and climate change. Ten years ago, our community coalition wasn't as united,  didn't have the audience or "the teeth" to get the attention of elected officials as we do now. Ten years ago we didn't have the air pollution and urban Heat Island data from our research, which backed out claims of the egregious harms the city and state allowed to happen in our community. Ten years ago, my team was completely volunteering our time around the clock, while working full time jobs and supporting families; we did not have any money to hire staff. Today, although we still volunteer our time, we have one full time executive director and two part time staff members that drive our progress. Ten years ago, we didn't have any of the grant money or access to city and state funding like we do now. 

Over the ten years, we built and solidified our coalition of community members, businesses and allies. We created a community land trust, the Mott Haven-Port Morris Community Land Stewarts, which now as of last week, is officially a non profit with active 501c3 status. We have staff and enough funding to hire more staff. We now have many other community organizations who are complimenting much of the work that we are doing in our community, which means we have branches/spokes that we can connect to and really build out our community. We even have a robust team of developers and consultants with the expertise and savvy to help us compete and win this RFP.  Last but not least, there have been ten years of prayer that have gone up to tips the bowls in heaven to release the answers we have been asking for. The many pieces of our vision have fully come together in these last ten years, in the perfect timing of God.

Over our ten year journey, there were times to plant, times to build, times to cry, times to mourn, times to go to war, times to laugh, times to dance, times to refrain and be silent, times to let go of people and things, times to embrace new people and things. Now this is the time to pluck up what had been planted and yield the harvest. As we say and have said often in our team after another victory, "We are winning!" I could never have asked for another team of dedicated souls to fight for my community with. I am so grateful and give thanks to and for every one of them for enduring this ten year journey and never letting go of our vision .

As we give thanks for perfect timing today and I give a huge shout out to South Bronx Unite, I ask that you donate ( to our organization as we fight to obtain and build HEArts, our community center and the Mott Haven Port Morris Waterfront. The estimated cost to renovate the community center is $30 million (that cost even increased over the ten years). The waterfront is another million dollar project as well. 

Love ya,

Have a Great Day of Thanks!


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