Collage with 'Mama Shu' Harris
Shamayim ‘Mama Shu’ Harris with the renderings of Avalon Village.

When Shamayim Shu Harris lost her son in a hit-and-run accident, she was devastated. But she channeled her grief and created something beautiful in his honor.

She scraped together $3,000 and bought a house on an abandoned block of Detroit. Then she cleaned up mountains of debris, first from her own backyard, then the rest of the block.

Harris: “It was just a bunch of nothingness and trash and abandoned houses. But I saw something different.”

Ten years later, it’s been transformed into Avalon Village, an eco-friendly community space. It boasts a renovated “homework house” for tutoring, solar street lights, and a neighborhood park.

Green features such as solar and geothermal energy are central to the future of the village. Harris says they’re better for the earth and save money over time.

Harris: “Unfortunately, it’s a poor neighborhood. So I’m thinking we need to make this village as energy-efficient, as eco-friendly, as we can.”

The success of Avalon Village may inspire the larger community.

Harris: “I always hope that it will be infectious even if it’s just collecting water in a rain barrel – simple things like that. To me, the seed needs to be planted, and then it’ll grow.”

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Image graphic: Created by David McCarthy. Collage photos (left) courtesy of Avalon Village and (right) courtesy of Michelle and Chris Gerard.

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