The goal is to provide an office space for the nonprofit to host activities and healthy workshops, fresh food distribution, and a ‘DeEscalation Room’ to help reduce violence in the community.
“This is an area where there is a lot of sickness,” said Ali-Campbell. “There’s a lot of vets in this area, in this community and there are a lot of services that people could use but they don’t know that they have access to.”
Ali-Campbell says what she hopes to do is have referrals in the building so people can find out where they can go get recovery services and resources they don’t normally seek out.
The construction required multiple participants from across the country who, Ali-Campbell says, specialize in creating Earthships.
If accomplished would be the first one in an urban environment in the United States.
“We wanted to use the Earthship principles for this building because it embodies everything that we’re trying to bring to the community,” said Ali-Campbell. “It heats and cools itself, it grows its own food, provides its own water, maintains its own sewage.”
Ali-Campbell says Philadelphia has one of the worst stormwater issues and the Earthship doesn’t take water off the ground, it collects it directly from the sky and cleans it.
While the property was donated as a gift by Thomas L. Miller in 2013, Ali-Campbell says the fight to keep it was not easy.
What resulted in a four-year legal battle amid a deed complication, Ali-Campbell with the help of her six lawyers who worked pro bono, was able to maintain the land and now proceed with her vision for a brighter space.
“We’ve been doing this work for all this time without any grants or any support from government,” said Ali-Campbell. “So we depend greatly on our individual donors who believe in our message of spreading love to the community that needs it the most.”
Ali-Campbell believes while previous methods of traveling school to school and to juvenile detention centers have helped, building this center in the middle of West Philly will create an everlasting foundation that those in need can resort to.
“We love this community, unfortunately, if you look at it, it doesn’t look like we love it because it looks rough,” she added. “But it just needs a little bit of care and love and that’s what we want to do.”
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West Philly Earthship Project Page