GrowingChange

We are transforming the 300 decommissioned prisons in the US into sustainable farms and climate resilience hubs!

Photo of Adyson Strickland
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Written by

Additional categories (optional)

  • Education
  • Technology

Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Eligibility: Date of Birth

October 13, 2003

Help us stay in touch!

9104414461 16721 springs mill road, Laurinburg, NC 28352

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

GrowingChange.org IG - flip_the_prison #fliptheprison

Date You Started Your Project Started

10-30-2017

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Every other year, we make national news as ‘500 yr’ hurricanes flood our communities. Ironically, poor, rural America, like the towns in our area, have been left out of the climate change conversation. We need a model to bring folks shoulder to shoulder, working together despite disagreements if we are going to change minds and actions in order to save the planet.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

We are transforming a closed prison in rural NC into a sustainable farm focused on the triple bottom line. We make profit that serves people and our planet as we turn prison cells into composting machines, perimeters into pasture and grow sustainable, good food for our community while helping to heal our planet. We are creating a model for transforming closed prisons into community resilience hubs. This model will be open sourced and given away to the 26 communities in NC trying to figure out what to do with a closed prison. Specifically, we are making compost that pulls carbon out of the atmosphere and we use this compost to generate profit and to grow food in a sustainable way to feed our community. This is one way we demonstrate that these closed prisons scattered throughout rural US can be centers to get folks working shoulder to shoulder using the triple bottom line to recruit new neighbors to help youth who struggle, feed hungry folks and bring folks who are not involved in the environmental movement to help reverse climate change.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

We live in the most challenged region of NC with high crime rate, hunger, unemployment, negative health outcomes and nationally high poverty rates as Lumberton NC was the poorest mid-sized city in the US in 2014. Our central leadership is a group of Native American, African American, Latino and Caucasian youth who grew up the hard way in a hard place. I came to this group as a young Native American who grew up in the struggle. When you live in a poor and rural area, you don't have the same opportunities to make change. I've seen in my life, as well as my loved ones lives and also my community how hard it is to change negative cycles. As a Native American I am proud that my people come from a tradition of taking care of this land. If humanity doesn't change, the negative environmental cycles we are in many species will become extinct, maybe even our own. We need new "Brave Leaders".

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

We are transforming the 300 decommissioned prisons in the US into sustainable farms and climate resilience hubs!

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

Our average days are not so average as we raise livestock, harvest eggs, grow food and compost food waste on a closed prison. We design and sometimes redesign our projects to fit the space and serve the triple bottom line. We learn how to speak in public, which is still hard for me, demonstrate our work and educate folks about what we are doing. We may be in group session or composting or collecting our eggs depending on the afternoon after school. We host tours and engage the community as we build our farm.

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Before our work you may not have thought about what to do with closed prisons or that there are any closed prisons or that there are 300 closed prisons in the US. We can use a triple bottom line approach to bring neighbors shoulder to shoulder to generate profits that serve people and the planet.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

Our group ran a 5 year study and we were 92% successful in keeping young people who were kicked out of home, out of school and on juvenile probation from getting into the adult system. Now we are moving about 700 lbs of food waste per week into composting feeding worms and generating chicken feed through our bug livestock. We have brought folks together in NC around doing something good with these closed prisons who often don’t agree with one another.

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

We are working on the ‘Prison Flip Toolkit’ to give away to the 300 communities trying to figure out what to do with closed prisons. We are also about to release our YouTube channel series, ‘How to Flip Your Prison’ and prepare to run a crowd funding campaign.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Project Plan & Strategy

10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Donations over $10k

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • Native American or Alaska Native (for example: Navajo Nation, Blackfeet Tribe, Mayan, Aztec, Native Village of Barrow Inupial Traditional Government, Nome Eskimo Community) (10)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Communities of color
  • Low-income community
  • Other

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Ashoka page or contact

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?

Ashoka

2 comments

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Photo of Amy Wu
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An incredible solution connecting 3 major issues: prison reform, sustainability, and rural communities being left behind. Agreed with Akerth -- this is resourceful and wonderful!

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