Village Commons is a Little Rock-based nonprofit, grassroots organization helping people –especially those in underserved neighborhoods – strengthen their communities and secure healthy and sustainable futures. Village Common's projects include urban gardening, a healthy homes initiative, Fourche Creek restoration, and other community sustainability projects.
The local foods movement has largely bypassed the people who would benefit the most – people living in low to moderate-income neighborhoods. Residents have little or no access to locally grown foods, and may not have easy access to markets where the residents can purchase fresh vegetables. Our programming:
Promotes availability and access to chemical-free, local produce in central Little Rock neighborhoods,
Develops infrastructure for urban food production and job training, and
Educates about healthy eating.
The Department of Energy reports that people living in older homes in low-income neighborhoods may lose as much as 20-40 percent of the money they spend on heating and cooling because of leakage. A utility company's survey recently showed that nearly 400,000 Arkansas homes could benefit from significant energy efficiency improvements. However, fewer than 3,000 homes a year can be served by current weatherization programs. Village Commons offers:
Free energy audits for homeowners and renters in underserved neighborhoods,
Skills training in energy efficiency and home retrofits for youth and community members who then volunteer their time to make needed upgrades to homes in underserved neighborhoods,
Assistance to homeowners in acquiring affordable professional services for repairing ductwork, installing timed thermostats and other energy efficiency measures, and
Eco-toxins and home safety assessments.
Health is rooted in the infrastructure and behaviors where we live, learn, work, play, and pray on a daily basis. Families that practice health and wellness together and with neighbors benefit from stronger relationships as well as stronger bodies. Village Commons is in the process of developing programming that will focus on increasing physical activity among residents in central Little Rock neighborhoods; building more community parks, biking/walking trails, and crosswalks; educating families on health and wellness; and facilitating family support groups that provide Life Skills training for each family member.
In order to achieve Environmental Justice, neighborhoods must recognize their impact on the larger city ecosystem and the Biosphere. Healthy Communities programming connects local issues to global impacts. A major component of our work is stewardship of the Fourche Creek watershed, which serves as the drain for the majority of Little Rock's runoff. We also offer opportunities in community organizing and leadership development, facilitate public forums and civic engagement, and support green and local business development across the city.