(Shanna pictured left with her son Warner pictured right)
We’re so grateful to work with such a dedicated leader, Shanna Sabio of GrowHouse NYC
By Shanna Sabio Co-Founder & Executive Director of GrowHouse NYC
GrowHouse International, Inc. (“GrowHouse” or GrowHouse NYC) was created to preserve and grow Black wealth. We define wealth as a multifaceted term that includes abundance of many kinds: talent, intellect, politics, culture, economics, built environment, and natural environment/land.
We envision a world where Black people and their allies are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and experiences to think globally and act locally to build equitable societies. We support and promote emerging artists and techies of color through travel opportunities, artist residencies, exhibitions, arts-focused events, and very soon, collective ownership of real estate and businesses, building sustainable networks to help retain Black creatives in New York City.
The idea for GrowHouse began when Warner Sabio, Jr. and roughly a dozen of his friends took over an unfinished duplex in his family’s Bedford Stuyvesant brownstone. They spent months creating, sharing, and producing music, art, and video. The space became a hub for young, underground visual artists, musicians, producers and dancers. It became apparent that most, if not all, of these young men and women of color were in a state of transition − either in between homes, schools, or jobs. Brimming with creativity, they needed a space that was private and felt like home where they could congregate and create. The brownstone presented a safe, no-judgment zone where they could gather, dream and experiment with art and technology. This space was the first GrowHouse.
Warner and the youth enlisted the help of his mother, Shanna Sabio, to create a more permanent framework for these activities that would allow them to raise funds to support both the physical space and the activities within. Shanna had worked in fashion as a project manager and producer for over a decade, with a focus on education. Illustrating how powerful intergenerational community can be, they began working together to envision GrowHouses that could be created in other rapidly gentrifying communities where people of African descent reside.
GrowHouse NYC has been active for four years, with steady and ongoing expansion. Since 2017, GrowHouse has produced 6 community art exhibits, crafted educational walking tours, and led travel programs to Cuba and Ghana engaging hundreds of Brooklynites each year. Most recently, we’ve spearheaded the transition of the Flatbush African Burial Ground Coalition to intentional Black leadership, laying the foundation for community engagement and the formation of a community land trust.
We are located in Brooklyn with relationships throughout the borough and city, as well as throughout the African Diaspora including Cuba, Ghana, Benin, Togo, Nigeria, Panama, and Colombia. Our vision for 2022 – 2023 is to empower Black and their allies to become developers of themselves and their communities through collective ownership and governance of key assets such as real estate, land, essential businesses, and cultural institutions. By the end of 2023, we want to have collective ownership of land/property in Black Brooklyn (Crown Heights, Bed Stuy, Weeksville, Brownsville, and Ocean Hill, Flatbush) to retain Black creatives in Brooklyn.
Donations to support BrowHouse NYC’s work can be made here: https://www.growhousenyc.org/contribute
Check out their IG: @growhousebk
This #BlackHistoryMonth Repair the World is highlighting Black-led orgs, service partners who are advancing and centering Diversity Equity and Inclusion work and prioritizing BIPOC leadership in their orgs, and Black Community Leaders that we serve with across our communities. Our impact would not be possible without them. Our Jewish values of solidarity, achdoot, and strengthening each other, hitchazkut, remind us that nothing is possible without meaningful relationships. Our partners and colleagues are critical to our ability to understand and act thoughtfully. When we lift up, celebrate, and appreciate others, we ultimately work towards a stronger outcome.