Partnership for Resilient Communities partner, the Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative, made history on April 30, 2022, as it celebrated the grand opening of its community resiliency hub, the first-ever solar-powered resiliency hub in Virginia.
The hub will serve many functions in the historically Black community of the Heights in Petersburg, VA. It will be a place for residents to gather regularly and share space, find air conditioning or heat during times of extreme weather events that affect power, prepare food, connect with the internet and support each other. The resilience hub will also offer residents various workforce training programs and certifications.
“The hub brings employment and entrepreneurial opportunities along with workforce development in the clean energy and electric mobility sectors,” said Queen Shabazz, the coordinator of the Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative.
The hub’s opening is a culmination of the Collaborative’s work since September 2019, which included restoring and preserving the United Service Organization Beaux-Twenty Club in Petersburg. The building served “colored” troops during military segregation in the 1940s, acting as a place where World War II servicemen could socialize and receive services.
To mark the momentous occasion, Petersburg Mayor Samuel Parham proclaimed April 30th as “Community Resiliency Day.” In his proclamation, Mayor Parham urged “all citizens to participate in ceremonies and activities that honor the past, present and future military service men and women in the attainment of Freedom, Justice, Equity and Self Determination that is deserved by all.”
The opening of the resiliency hub also means that the Heights community, which has long faced the same systemic disinvestment that many communities of color in America face, is beginning to receive the resources it needs to flourish once more.
“The opening of Virginia’s first solar-powered community resiliency hub means that the Historic Heights Community in Petersburg, Virginia moves closer to self-dependency and self-determination, and away from reliance on others to save us,” Queen Shabazz, the coordinator of the Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative said. “The support of the Institute for Sustainable Communities made this possible from the project planning stage through implementation. ISC’s partnership is invaluable, exemplified through our Petersburg Hub and the many other Partnership for Resilient Communities projects around the country.”