KI EcoCenter: Sustainability through Community Empowerment
“We educate the community and ourselves,” says the Executive Director of the KI EcoCenter Imhotep Adisa. KI EcoCenter was founded ten years ago to mentor and support the self-mastery of youth. They evolved to create work experiences through social enterprises. Working through a minimalist approach, their first enterprise was a thrift store and then a recycled paint store. These efforts were created to support young men in their skill development as well as supporting the needs of the community.
Four years ago, KI EcoCenter moved into its current location at 159 W 28th St Indianapolis, Indiana. A public presence was visible and led to more partnerships for the non-profit. Community Cinema is an initiative where they invite the public into the center to view documentaries about empowerment and bringing about change in communities. One movie, An Inconvenient Truth, really stimulated their green consciousness. They created an urban garden and started composting their and the local restaurant Duos’s food to create soil for themselves and their neighbors. At least twice a year, they attend conferences outside of the state. “It is important for the kids to see others engaged their own age,” says Program Director Paulette Fair. One conference even inspired a student to start an aquaponics farm.
Until the Bootstrap Academy came along, their initiatives were more social than economically driven. The Academy fosters skill set development, teaches one to work with little resources, and encourages interests and passions for young adults. From here, KI NuMedia was developed. They do email and social media marketing, website design, and videography. This is their flagship social enterprise, which funds the social mission. Bootstrappers also build and sell rain barrels. The new initiatives allow them to be mostly self-funded.
Ki EcoCenter also hosts as an independent school, media café, forums and lecture space for sustainable minds and artists. “It is soul serving for visionaries, who are able to see and articulate what’s going on in the present,” said Adisa. They have created a culture of lifelong community amongst members and are serving as models for other distressed neighborhoods.