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 of this land into LIFE DO GROW; our urban farm, art gallery & creative hub.
CO-CEO, CO-FOUNDER, Director of Arts & Events
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-CEO, CO-FOUNDER, Director of Capacity Building
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.
CO-CEO, CO-FOUNDER, Director of Site & Development
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, artist, and educator. Sonia graduated from Temple University with a BA in Political Science in 2014. Her experience in activist work includes women’s rights, racial justice, food justice, and land justice. 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 Black empowerment and the restoration of Okinawan land to the indigenous people. Sonia’s work skills include public speaking, linguistics, statistical analysis, campaign & policy strategy, administrative operations and development, and facilitation. Sonia is also an illustrator and traditional Japanese calligraphist.
As Director of Operations, Sonia develops and implements procedures to ensure efficiency, to document, evaluate, and support UC programs, and facilitates communication both internally and externally.
Sonia hopes to challenge traditional hierarchies and center those most impacted in whatever work she participates.
FARM Fellow Mentor
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 was 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. He is also involved in Soil Generation, Black Dirt Farm Collective, and oversaw the growing of produce at PHS’s Farm for the City Exhibition at City Hall in 2018.
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!
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT MANAGER, Youth Liason
Nyseem is a North Philly native who has been working in his community since his youth. He has experience organizing with Tree House Books, YAC, and Stadium Stompers along with Urban Creators through his early adult life.
Nyseem has a gift of connecting with both the youth and the elders of the neighborhood, organizing community meetings, events, and showing youth in our program what it means to build community through canvassing and facilitating.
He also manages our youth program, both Creator Core and our Summer Youth Program - helping to coordinate many teens to have summer jobs at Life Do Grow with our partners at Work Ready.
Malik Wilford-Williams, Ammiel Townsend, Samuel Harris are former youth program participants who now hold leadership staff positions at Life Do Grow. Malik is managing his own original Off Grid Studio Program creating music with other young people in the neighborhood about their life experience and promoting themselves as creative entrepreneurs. Ammiel is managing and maintaining the farm space as a facilities coordinator. Samuel is now working as farm fellow after having worked with Stanley for multiple seasons, caring for and harvesting our produce this year.