4M Malcom X Greenhouse is a sculptural and programmatic artwork built from an ideation of individual and community holistic health. A greenhouse mimicking the shape of Malcolm X’s birth house will be built on his birthsite’s foundation in North Omaha, a neighborhood with a long history of poverty, racial challenges and pollution. Programs include a stage for spiritual and meditation practices, production of food crops, phytoremediation plants, medicinal herbs, and methods of distributing these products within the community. This fellowship’s national attention will crucially advance the difference communities can make in themselves by building structures of empowerment and resilience into their daily lives.
I understand individual, community, and environmental health as an indivisible continuum. Living and healing occur across four related pillars of health, M1–M4.
is the self-identifier and reflects a legacy of self-empowerment and determination.
cleanses soil and air via phytoremediation plants on local superfund sites, relating to violence in disadvantaged youth.
is spiritual reflection and meditation put into practice with Perennialism-based programing.
the foundation of the combined pillars, is medicinal and food supply. This is the farm and table identity of the project edified by holistic health derived from vegetation grown on site.
The site is surrounded by trees and positioned at a high vantage point overlooking seventeen acres of native grassland with occasional street signs and other lingering evidence of the neighborhood streets now sunken from view. Urban grids are not the only things to have leached into the soil, the EPA classifies the region as a superfund site due to soil-borne industrial toxins including high lead content.
Free phytoremediation plants from ferns to poplars will be available to residents wishing to leach toxins from the ground around their homes, making it safe for self-reliant food production. Production—and destruction of contaminated crops—will become regular community gatherings. Food crops will be free, and will also be sold at locally owned businesses such as the Fair Deal grocery store and served at the Fair Deal Café. Omaha’s Union for Contemporary Art, the Omaha Economic Development Corporation, and the Malcolm X Foundation of Omaha have already pledged ongoing support including a part-time gardener’s salary.
An environment free of lead and other industrial toxins has positive correlations to individual health and reduced violence goo.gl/DJrJT8, as do food security, healthful eating habits, and a sense of communal belonging. Substantial research goo.gl/7u8Vfr demonstrates that routine exposure to the natural environment, especially that with a high level of vibrance (visually experienced from phenomena such as sun sparkling through fluttering leaves) mimics the established health benefits of meditation. 4M gives tools to empower participants to build resilience into their communities and self. Offering North Omaha residents the health benefits of nature while working collaboratively to rehabilitate their home environments and develop self-sustaining nourishment leverages the historical legacy of the site as a seedbed of unique expressions of self-empowerment and self-determination.