The NGCLT presently has another donated house under construction with grant funds from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, known as the "MLK house" because of its location on Martin Luther King Boulevard. This boulevard is not currently lined with trees, but it is our vision and dream to line the boulevard with trees, flowers and shrubbery so that it will reflect the great civil rights worker for whom it is named. When this house is completed, we will use the land trust model to sell it to a community member who otherwise would have been priced out of the housing market.
The "yellow house" at 2806 Monroe is the first community land trust home to be sold in Mississippi. This beautiful home, originally constructed in 1925 was donated to the Land Trust and was moved 7 miles to its current location. The home was beautifully restored with funding from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, the Ms. Foundation for Women and others, and will soon be sold to a low-income family.
A dream came true for the NGCLT with the opening with the opening of the Education Center on January 9th, 2010. The center was designed to bridge the achievement gap and advance children in education through an after-school tutorial program. The curriculum includes reading, science, math, english, parenting skills, student counseling. The center provides a computer lab for student use as well. The center's classes are run by retired college, high school, and elementary school teachers giving back to their community. Most of our volunteer teachers grew up in the neighborhood.
The building was originally one of the first African American libraries in Mississippi. The library was built in 1965 by Revered Orl Kaufman and Mennonite volunteers. During the time of segregation, African Americans were not allowed to use the public library. Unfortunately, over time this historic library fell into disrepair, sitting vacant on an overgrown lot for nearly twenty years. Finally, the old library was donated to the NGCLT by the Good Deeds Association, a community based organization. The original members of the Good Deeds Association, now in their eighties and nineties, witnessed the opening of the education center which now occupies this historic building.
The center continues to offer tutoring and classes for students on many topics, from math and computers to how to tie a tie and iron a shirt. At the education center, we offer training for life and success.
Located behind the Education Center is our newly planted Community Garden where we are growing healthy fruits, vegetables and herbs to address the problem of childhood obesity which, unfortunately, is rampant in the African American community. So far we've planted tomatoes, okra, squash, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, collards, carrots, a variety of peppers, watermelon, strawberries, an assortment of herbs, blueberry bushes and apple, plum and nectarine trees. To interest the children and help use the garden as a teaching tool, we've also planted giant sunflowers and giant pumpkins.
The community garden is an essential part of the North Gulfport community. The land trust plans to focus on creating an environment where low income people will have access to affordable healthy food. Obesity is rampant in the African American communities, particularly among children. Fortunately, with the help of approximately 50 volunteers and numerous community members, we have created a diverse garden that provides opportunity for nutrition, education, recreation, and therapy while beautifying the community.
The NGCLT teamed up with Kaboom and local organizations to create a place to play in the North Gulfport area next to the Isiah Fredericks Community Center, providing quality safe recreation in the North Gulfport community.
The Youth Council sought to provide young adults of the North Gulfport area with opportunities to perform service, travel, receive training in life and work skills, and to catalyze action in the community. Some of its activities included senior bingo, a fishing clinic, and a trip to the Southern Partners' Fund Youth Leadership Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.
Youth Council was all about pushing kids towards positive change, while having fun and learning lessons along the way. The primary goal was to help young people become dedicated community members committed to public service. We are proud to say each and every one of our alumni members is now aware that change must start from within. The Youth Council members were responsible for planning projects, choosing how to spend funds, and participating in decision-making regarding which projects to undertake. They determined their own course of action for each project, from environmental degradation to relationship building. We look forward to reviving this project in the near future with contributions from donors and volunteers.
Across the street from the office of the NGCLT is a beautiful mural commissioned by the land trust depicting President Barack Obama and Dr. Martin Luther King, in our tribute to the authors of the inspirational messages "Yes, we can" and "I have a dream."
The Youth Council started a community arts program and painted a mural on NGCLT’s Education Center. The Education Center was originally a changing room for a swimming pool built by the Mennonites, back in a time when Blacks were not allowed to swim in public beaches and pools. After the Mural project was so successful, the Youth Council began Community Arts Festivals, which were held every 2nd Saturday of each month. The festivals were held at different churches throughout the North Gulfport Community. Activities included painting bisque, making jewelry with beads, building art with Popsicle sticks, and drawing and coloring. Participating children could take home whatever projects they create.
The NGCLT provides support to homeowners and future homeowners. Through partnerships with organizations like the Mississippi Center for Justice and Mercy Housing, we are able to help homeowners find qualified advice on credit counselling, legal issues, and other homeowner education topics.
Environmental justice concerns the linkages between environmental quality and social justice, and seeks to promote dialogue, increased understanding, and appropriate action to address the connection between environmental exploitation and socioeconomic inequality. From this standpoint, the North Gulfport community is in particular need of protection, as it is in a prime location, east of the airport, south of the interstate, and convenient to downtown Gulfport, making it a target for proposed industrial development of all types.
The land trust is involved in ongoing activities addressing the need to protect the community from the planned port expansion project and related issues. They include: the construction of a major connector road through the middle of the North Gulfport community requiring filling of approximately 162 additional acres of wetlands, increasing the already existing danger of flooding, the location of an industrial storage facility with its attendant noise, light and air pollution, within 100 feet of a residential neighborhood within the North Gulfport community. The entire planned project involved a diversion of $570 million by the Governor of the State and the former Secretary of HUD from Katrina recovery projects, thereby impairing desperately needed housing and infrastructure work yet remaining to be done.
North Gulfport has suffered over the years from the effects of numerous violations of environmental justice issues, causing a range of problems from health issues such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and respiratory illnesses, particularly asthma. These proposed projects are matters of grave concern, as they will undoubtedly worsen the environmental conditions that threaten the integrity and survivability of the North Gulfport community. Over the past years the NGCLT has worked with and continues to work with the community, other organizations, including the Gulf Restoration Network, Steps Coalition and the Mississippi Center for Justice, and teams of attorneys around the country to address the adverse impact of these projects. Our efforts include a door-to-door education campaign, media, church and civic group outreach, and filing lawsuits. The land trust is invested in the leadership development of the youth of North Gulfport and the civic engagement of the community, and has been recognized by the City of Gulfport, the Port Authority, the Mississippi Development Authority and the office of the Governor.
The NGCLT has been active in voicing the concerns of disenfranchised communities regarding Gulfport's plans for port expansion. For more information, contact us or visit The Steps Coalition.
Please contact us for more information on how to get involved at (228) 868-0250 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or click over to our Volunteering page for more information. The Land Trust needs your help to continue these projects!