Juan Shannon believes that the federal government can help communities of color grow just like his green peppers are doing each day in Highland Park.
His Parker Village project is a community-based, solar-powered center where vegetables are grown. At one time, the site was an abandoned elementary school and a source of blight in the city. Now it represents an opportunity to help a city that was once more than twice its size with a strong middle class rise again.
“This is a redevelopment project that proves the viability of truly renewable energy,” said Shannon, a lifelong Highland Park resident. “It’s proof that food, retail, and housing can be sustainable and affordable if we start from the ground up with community health in mind.”
U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) joined Shannon, Highland Park Mayor Hubert Yopp and others at a Tuesday press conference in the city where they called for the passage of the Transform, Heal and Renew by Investing in a Vibrant Economy (THRIVE) Act. The Democratic effort is now pending in Congress.
As the Advance reported in March, the $10 trillion federal infrastructure plan would invest hundreds of billions of dollars into Michigan’s economy over a 10-year period to support green jobs and infrastructure. The effort that would help stem the climate crisis is directed toward Black, Brown and Indigenous communities. U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) introduced the measure in the House and U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) did so in the Senate.
THRIVE would create more than 15.5 million jobs per year and “virtually end unemployment,” according to an analysis by the University of Massachusetts’ Political Economy Research Institute commissioned by the Sierra Club. It lays out the case for more than 200,000 new Michigan jobs annually.
“Every Michigander deserves to see their THRIVE Act signed into law to boost our state with green, union jobs,” said Tlaib, who represents Highland Park. “Michigan will be the engine of the green energy revolution, creating wind turbines and solar panels that can help us tackle the climate crisis.”
Advocates from nonprofit organizations Michigan Alliance for Justice in Climate, Soulardarity, and Detroit Action attended the event. Yopp is excited about Shannon’s work with Parker Village.
“He’s bringing exactly what our community needs,” said Yopp.
Shannon believes that THRIVE Act investment would help him to expand Parker Village and provide efficient solar-powered street lights and create jobs for community residents.
“As we move out of the [COVID-19] pandemic, we need [Congress] to support the development that comes with the THRIVE Act. It puts power and jobs in the hands of the community,” said Shannon.