The Black American Tree Project (BATP), a joint collaboration of Public Allies Cincinnati and Starfire, has received a 12-month, $20,000 grant to further develop the project and expand its reach in Ohio. The Ohio Humanities grant has allowed the BATP founders to build a website (www.theblackamericantreeproject.org) so that more Ohioans can book the experience for their group, and access additional educational resources.
The grant is made possible by Ohio Humanities’ Major Grants program, which supports cultural programs that share the human story through documentation, interpretation, reflection, and representation.
BATP is an in-depth, 90-minute participatory public humanities experience that has reached over 260 participants and will reach nearly 500 Ohioans with support from the grant. The BATP provides participants a historical account detailing the dominant systematic, cultural, and societal forces repressing Black Americans.
Danyetta Najoli, Senior Community Builder, Starfire and Freda Epum, Program Director, Public Allies Cincinnati are the authors of the project.
“It has been a privilege to bring Danyetta and Freda’s vision to life. After graciously inviting me to participate in The Black American Tree Project’s workshop, I was struck by the community it innately creates. Together we mourned the sharp echoes of this country’s painful past that pervade today, some facing their own history and others their culpabilities. I designed the site with this in mind and hope it will do justice in introducing this beautiful work to the world.” Sol Kim, Website Developer, SolKim.dev.
“The website gives us the chance to invite more people to participate in the project prototype, especially in this virtual space we are finding ourselves in. We are finding that it is possible, even online, to have more courageous and uncomfortable conversations about the negative impact race has had in this country” says Najoli.
BATP is modeled after other truth and reconciliation projects such as the Kairos Blanket Exercise by Indigenous Canadian leaders and the Starfire String Exercise by disability experts. The project is designed for groups of 10-30 citizens, including but not limited to social change advocates, non-profit workers, people with disabilities, Black Americans, social practice artists, educators and students.
“The Black American Tree Project offers meaningful dialogue, reflection, learning, and community connection in an engaging format. After being a participant, I decided to partner with Danyetta and Freda to include the Black American Tree Project as part of my Community Involvement course at the University of Cincinnati. I wanted to allow students an opportunity to challenge their thoughts, which can foster community and inclusion beyond the classroom.” Dr. Amber Kelly, President and CEO of Community Engagement Collective Adjunct Faculty at University of Cincinnati and National Louis University
This program is made possible, in part, by Ohio Humanities, a state-based partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this project do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.