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For Black History Month, NewsOne honors GAME CHANGERS: Everyday heroes whose actions make life better for the people around them. SEE ALL OUR GAME CHANGERS HERE.

5-Naomi-Davis-BIGNaomi Davis

Place of Residence: Chicago

Why She’s a Game Changer: Davis is the founder of Blacks in Green which seeks to create self-sustaining and healthy Black communities using the new green economy. A New York Times profile of Davis said she sought “simultaneously to rebuild black America and save the planet.”

How does she plan to do that? Blacks in Green functions as a trade association and educational group that seeks to teach Blacks the benefits of the green economy and rebuild neighborhoods in the process.

Davis says she grew tired of seeing the disintegration of Black communities and seeing Blacks suffer from higher rates of everything from poverty to early death. She decided to act and, after researching solutions, thought the green economy provided the best opportunity for revitalization

“Instead of waiting for the people to come to us, we go to them, wherever they are,” she told the New York Times. “We’re going into the bars, the parks, the churches, the schools, the stores with this new green-economy education. We have to spread the word. Otherwise, people of color are going to be left behind.”

Davis is focused on building green villages where African-Americans can take advantage of things such as micro-lending, affordable green homes and gardens which help create jobs for members of the community, life-long learning and a focus on health.

These villages operate on the principles of the “12 Propositions of Grannynomics.” A few of the principles include things such as: “everyone must work,” “all youngsters learn a trade,” “compete to improve” and “clothe, feed, educate, and restrain your children and yourself.”

“What we reject is the ‘Help the Negro Industry,’ ” she told the Times. “People coming into our community, thinking they know best, trying to save us. We can save ourselves….The ‘Help the Negro Industry’ is what allowed billions of dollars to come down for urban renewal, but the urban did not get renewed. We are absolutely committed that urban renewal not be repeated.”

Instead, African-Americans can lead the renewal of the communities where they live by taking advantages of the opportunities offered through the new focus on the environment and sustainability. The five-year-old stimulus package provided billions of dollars for creating jobs and improving the environment. And there’s a model for what she’s trying to accomplish

Davis cites her upbringing in a Black Queens, N.Y. neighborhood and her mother’s early years as the daughter of Mississippi sharecroppers as examples.

“In the walkable village where I was raised, the printer…gift shop…dry cleaner…shoe repair…photo studio…pharmacy….fish and produce man…dentist…bus service…restaurants (I could go on)…and the commercial buildings that housed them were all neighbor-owned.  In my Mom’s walkable village, everything they ate, they grew; everything they wore, they made; and they were happy.  They had everything but cash and thought they were poor. But they were rich.”

Watch Davis talk about putting her plans into action below:

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