The Urban Creators was founded in North Central Philadelphia 2010 by a diverse group of young people, unified by a vision to bridge the gap between isolated communities and transforming a 2-acre garbage dump into a farm. We spent our first year organizing door-to-door to gauge the interest and ideas shared by community members and stakeholders, and designing our theory of change. We spent our second year clearing away debris and planting the first seeds of our movement to remediate the polluted soils of injustice in North Philly. Our third year saw the transformation this land into LIFE DO GROW; our urban farm, Community Resource and Innovation center, and our home.
CO-EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CO-FOUNDER
Jeaninne Kayembe is a Black Queer up and coming thought leader and multi-media artist in this generations industries of entertainment, civic engagement, food security, and arts/environmental activism. Jeaninne came to Philadelphia from California seeking opportunities to use the arts and youth organizing as a vehicle for social change. At age nineteen she took part in co-founding Urban Creators where she is currently the Co-Executive Director and Executive Producer of "HoodStock Community and Arts Festival.” The magic of HoodStock creates a platform for under-served communities, city government, and artists to celebrate impactful collaborations on an Urban Farm. Jeaninne's artistic lens, network, and community continue to play a major role in the direction and development of Urban Creators initiatives. Not only does she fuel UC but also is a consultant for YOUTH SPEAKS, teaching a network of literary organizations how to build capacity through civic and community engagement to have a SUSTAINABLE impact on the environment where they hold programming.
Jeannine has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, and several other magazines. Her poetry has been on many countywide tours and published in multiple books. This year she will be exhibiting at Philadelphia Museum of Art, exploring the intersection of urban agriculture and community food narratives with world renowned artist Jeanne Vanheesewijk. She hopes to consult on more projects to bring capacity to organizations in need while carrying on the legacy of radical black queer created public art!
CO-EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CO-FOUNDER
Alex is a community organizer, artist, urban farmer, educator, and student of the earth. Born and raised on the upper east side of New York City, Alex developed a heightened sensitivity to social injustice at a young age as he experienced the deep segregation between his own neighborhood and the adjacent communities of color of East Harlem. A service trip to New Orleans post-Katrina as a freshman in high school was what ignited Alex’s passion for social change.
In 2007, Alex co-founded the New York 2 New Orleans Coalition (NY2NO), a student-run organization devoted to service learning in New Orleans. The organization continues to operate today under the leadership of current high school students under the name NY2X.
In 2009, Alex moved to North Philadelphia to attend Temple University. With the same passion that inspired NY2NO, Alex co-founded the Urban Creators with fellow visionaries as a way of building bridges between Temple & North Philly, and building equity in the local community.
Today, Alex serves as Co-Executive Director of the Urban Creators, and is responsible for developing strategic partnerships & building organizational capacity. In this role, Alex has raised over $600,000 for the organization, led over 5,000 volunteers in direct service projects, co-facilitated social justice education and skills training workshops for more than 500 students (ages 6-25), designed curricula, planned festivals and conferences, and facilitated dozens of community meetings. No matter how much the Urban Creators has grown, Alex has remained committed to grass-roots community organizing as his foundation for forging social justice.
SITE & DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR, CO-FOUNDER
Devon Bailey is a North Philadelphia native family man who works in carpentry, plumbing, landscaping, roofing, and mechanics. Devon holds onto his family history as inspiration in the work he does. With only a 5th grade education and a handful of cash, Devon’s grandfather traveled to Philly from the south to later become a business owner and a property owner. Devon sees work as his addition to this family legacy as he uses the carpentry, landscaping, and home remodeling skills he learned from his grandfather to revitalize his neighborhood. Devon channels the wisdom from experiencing troubled times and entanglement with the law to now be an example to the neighborhood youth. As a leader in his community, a property owner in the neighborhood, and a developer by trade, Devon makes his impact every day in his own way.
DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS
Sonia is an international activist and who calls Okinawa, Maryland, and Philadelphia home. Sonia graduated from Temple University with a BA in Political Science in 2014. Sonia’s experience in activism is rooted in progressive non-profit work involving both women’s rights and racial justice of all kinds. She channels inspiration from her family always, especially her grandmother who fought for women, children, people with various abilities, and incarcerated people in Washington D.C.
Sonia is rooted in her cultural identity, standing firmly behind the uplifting of the Black community and the restoration of Okinawan sovereignty of indigenous land. Sonia’s skills include a range of communication such as public speaking, statistical analysis, administrative operations and development, leadership development, and linguistics.
As Director of Operations, Sonia develops and implements programs both internal and external to ensure efficiency, grow capacity, and therefore increasing Urban Creators' impact on the community. This includes managing internal communication, partner relationships, business contracts, events, community engagement, public relations, digital content, and social media management.
Sonia hopes to participate in activism of all kinds both within the U.S. and internationally in order to learn and exchange strategy to ensure the empowerment of voices unheard.
Kirtrina M. Baxter, M.A. is a dedicated mother, drummer, food justice activist, and community organizer. As an Agro-Africanist, she has a passion for preserving & creating cultural traditions through nutrition through nutrition, growing food, seed keeping, and advocacy. Kirtrina is currently the community organizer for the Garden Justice League Initiative – a program of the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia. She works with gardeners around the city, assisting them with gaining access to land and other resources. In this capacity, she also organizes Soil Generation, a diverse body of urban ag advocates & food justice activists who help inform policy and provide community education and support to gardeners in the city.
Though certified in permaculture, Kirtrina identifies with agroecology as a more politically informed way to practice her land work. As well as being Farm Manager for Urban Creators, Kirtrina has also volunteered to help create and maintain various community gardens in Upstate NY. Kirtrina co-founded the Ithaca Youth Farm Project, the Congo Square Market, and the first Annual Food Justice Summit in Ithaca. In 2008, she received her M.A. from Union Institute and University in Cultural Studies.
Stanley is a Philadelphia native passionate about social change through community development, food justice, and environmental justice. Along with his work as an Urban Creator, Stanley is also an Assistant Crew Leader with AmeriCorps, playing a critical role in his team’s professional development and completion of stewardship projects with the Philadelphia Department of Parks & Recreation.
Stanley’s skills and certifications include environmental literacy, farm management, residential carpentry, leadership building, conflict resolution, and group discussion facilitation. His future plans are to continue to create healing spaces in uncommon places for all people.
Stanley's passion and dedication can be seen in the way he cares for the many facets of Life Do Grow Farm's operations and his relationships with the many people who come to the farm to visit!