Meet the Healing Our Highways grant recipients

Smart Growth America is excited to announce the recipients of the Healing Our Highways grant program. With support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Kresge Foundation, Healing Our Highways will support creative ideas and activities that build knowledge, connection, and power within disadvantaged communities harmed by transportation systems and climate change.

Beginning this month, participants will participate in a series of virtual sessions led by SGA staff and partners in preparation for community-facing activities from June to September 2024. In addition to the virtual sessions, participants will gather in Atlanta in May for an in-person convening. Read below to learn about the Healing Our Highways grant recipients, and stay tuned for updates on the program!

“We are grateful and excited to support these cultural workers and advocates in building power through arts and culture to meet community needs and advance more just outcomes,” said Marian Liou, Director of Arts & Culture at Smart Growth America. “Through Healing Our Highways, we look forward to amplifying their efforts to redress systems of harm through creativity, culture, and community.”

Conscious Community Connectors, Tampa Heights, FL

Facing the potential loss of a historic Black church and fighting accelerating displacement in the Tampa Heights neighborhood, Conscious Community Connectors and the Tampa Heights Junior Civic Association seek to preserve a critical community hub and promote climate resilience through cultural preservation, performances, and activism.

Fatima Elkott, Jason Gonzalez, and Naya Young, the co-founders of Conscious Community Connectors, will lead a team of local creatives, consultants, community activists, leaders, businesses, and youth. Naya is the granddaughter of community activist Ms. Lena Young Green, who co-founded the Tampa Heights Junior Civic Association. The team is rounded out by archivist Alex Whitacre, photographer Michael Alaimo, and creatives Camille Washington and John Parks.

Boyle Heights Art Conservatory, Los Angeles, CA

Rooted in the Boyle Heights neighborhood in Los Angeles, this project will co-create new, shared language around mobility resilience through community co-design informed by communal knowledge, collective memory, and cultural traditions.

The team is led by Lakshmy Narayanan, an artist, researcher, and mobility designer who focuses on design research, critical thinking, and strategic planning, focusing on the intersection of socio-cultural and political urban systems. Lakshmy is collaborating with Boyle Heights Arts Conservatory, a nonprofit organization that supports and advocates for diversity in the creative arts, media, and technology industries to create workforces that are inclusive and reflective of Los Angeles.

Buford Highway People’s Hub, Doraville, GA

The Buford Highway People’s Hub will weave in themes of climate resilience and transportation through its community-based programs that serve Latine, working-class, immigrant youth and families in an immigrant neighborhood in suburban Atlanta.

Victoria, Jonathan, Daniel, and Clara are four Latine organizers from the Buford Highway People’s Hub, living within Metro Atlanta. The Hub’s mission is to collectively build critical consciousness and community power through popular education and cultural organizing— toward collective liberation for Buford Highway and beyond. The Buford Highway People’s Hub envisions a conscious and resilient community-based movement for liberation in the Global U.S. South — rooted in radical imagination, accessibility, care, justice, and love.

Traffic Cams, Atlanta, GA

Traffic Cams envisions a more comprehensive public transportation system for the future of Atlanta. A web-based application using traffic camera data will help community members facing transportation challenges and harms visualize and reflect on a future public transit system with more climate-friendly options.

Emma Chammah and Eddie Farr are two artists who met via a mutual friend and quickly realized they had many shared interests and skills that complemented each other’s individual practice areas. They have collaborated together on a number of projects that utilize Emma’s skills as an architect/designer/and fabric specialist and Eddie’s skills as a software developer and fabricator. Located in Atlanta, Georgia, they are both committed to building a happier, healthier, and more connected community through their work as artists.

About Healing our Highways

A square graphic is all gray on the left half, showing a lot of cars on the road and pollution from their exhaust. The other half to the right is colorful and shows a dragon-themed train driving down the road with people out on the street riding in a bike lane, walking, and living in harmony. On the bottom, an dark grey rectangular box stretches across and in white text says Healing our Highways, a new grant program on the left, with Smart Growth America's logo on the right.Smart Growth America believes unreservedly in the power arts and culture can wield to reimagine and transform our transportation, land use, and climate systems. The Healing Our Highways grant is a program that will support artists and culture bearers to use creativity and collaboration to upend existing car-centric transportation systems and advance climate action.

Learn more >> 

Advancing Racial Equity Creative Placemaking Technical assistance Transportation