Jan 23, 2020

Grassroots Spotlight, Erica Williams, A Red Circle

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Grassroots Leader Spotlights highlight the work of activist leaders across the country who are doing meaningful and innovative work to strengthen their communities. To read more about other leaders, scroll to the bottom of this article to browse profiles from around the country.

Meet Erica of A Red Circle (January 2019)

Thanks for talking with me today, Erica.
No problem.

Let's start by talking about A Red Circle. Can you tell us a bit about A Red Circle Nonprofit Organization and your organizing work?
We can cover that with A Red Circle's mission statement: A Red Circle fights for the holistic betterment of our community [in St. Louis], reversing the effects of racism one person and cause at a time. And we do that through various initiatives and activities throughout the year.

How long has A Red Circle been around?
We founded the organization in March of 2017.

And you're the Executive director, correct?
That's correct, I'm the Founder and the Executive Director.

Any recent successes you'd like to share? Highlights from 2019?
Yeah! There's a couple of things. Last May we launched our Healthy Community Market. That includes an affordable farmer's market; cooking demonstrations; nutrition education; fitness activities; a kids station for kids to enjoy and participate in health and nutrition-oriented activities; community resources and more. Sometimes people come up and bring their healthy hygiene products to sell too. In what we refer to as North County, we don't have access to as many farmers markets and good stores selling healthy and affordable options. This gives our community access to those tools they need to thrive.

That sounds great! What was the inspiration behind that initiative?
It was a joint effort! We began canvassing the community because we knew there was a lack of healthy food in the region. At the time there was one full service grocery store that was what you might say is easy for people to get to. There was one farther away and a couple other smaller stores. People like healthy food but the prices at farmer's markets are high! We found local growers who were willing to sell their produce at cost. We added in cooking demos and voila! A place where folks could come and purchase delicious, healthy food they could afford.

Fantastic. It's really inspiring how committed you are to bringing creative and real solutions to your community.
Yes, we're very proud!

Any 2020 projects or plans you can share?
We have a couple of different things coming up. At A Red Circle, we approach economic development through racial equity lens. North County is comprised of 12 ZIP codes. Within those zip codes, we search for what needs improving in order to improve things for everyone.

We have events coming up pertaining to voter registration and voter education. We were recently funded by the Missouri Department of Agriculture to build out the North County Agricultural Education Center. That will be a space for high school students and college age people in the community to learn not only how to grow food, but the STEM behind the growing. This is a field where there are plenty of jobs, but very few black people are working in that field. We have a great video online that readers can check out.

We also have an Education Advocacy Coalition, which is a group of professionals that work in the education field, that are coming together to work on improving the discipline in the region. We're trying to eliminate things like detention, suspension, and restraint and seclusion, which disproportionately affect black people, especially black boys.

How can folks get in touch with you?
A Red Circle's Website


Eager for more?
Read more about A Red Circle's work on Missourinet
Support A Red Circle's work. Donate here

Want to learn more? Read other profiles!
Meet Andreanecia of the Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance
Meet Kathryn of Collective Agency (June 2019)

Meet Joe of Wolf-PAC (April 2019)

Meet Ilona of Movement School (April 2019)
Meet Anna of Michelle from Red2Blue (March 2019)
Meet Shabd of Let NY Vote (March 2019)
Meet Sara of Downtown Women for Change (Feb 2019)