For many years now, One World Center has been working with Mark Covington and his non-profit organization, Georgia Street Community Collective (GSCC) in Detroit, Michigan. Mark is a radiant and humble example of how a determined, hard-working person can make a difference in his neighborhood. With the motto of “one street, one neighborhood at the time”, he has dedicated himself to the betterment and benefit of the people in his community.
After moving back to his old neighborhood and realizing the availability of little fresh food was small or non-existent, Mark started to grow vegetables on empty lots. His initial intention was to grow some greens that people could pick on their way back from shopping at corner stores. Thirteen years later, Mark is continuing to work with a simple principle—come give a hand if you have time, come get some food when you are in need. Zero judgment and no questions asked. Mark and GSCC are simply serving the people around them.
Over the years, Mark has expanded the work of GSCC from just growing vegetables on empty lots to also include: planting flowers for beautification; reading stories and showing movies to the neighborhood kids; establishing a community center with many different events and giveaways; getting computers for his library which is always open; establishing orchards; beekeeping; taking care of geese and goats; and teaching in Detroit schools. After a quick visit at GSCC, it can be difficult to not fall into the trap of thinking that the work that Mark does is easy or that he has a romanticized view of the world. However, do not be mislead because it is hard work full of disappointments and set-backs from fights with city authorities to insect infestations and drought.
We have been privileged to assist Mark and his work at GSCC over the years in various ways: helping out in the gardens; providing support at giveaways and other events; and helping restoring the community center. In turn, Mark has assisted One World Center by supporting our efforts in training volunteers to work in poor communities here in the US and Abroad. It is always a pleasure to visit GSCC and be welcomed with an open heart and arms. What makes working with Mark so special to us? It is his humble and practical approach to the big issues around us, such as: food insecurity; the education of our children; and bringing love and beauty to neighborhoods which are neglected by city institutions, and the State and Federal Government. From our point of view, Mark is on the front lines, standing tall—no easy feat.