Community Spotlight: New Community Project
HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - The New Community Project works with partners around the world to bring social justice and ecological healing to our local community.
One way the organization puts its principles into practice is with its Sustainable Living Centers, like the Vine and Fig in Harrisonburg.
“We provide safe and supportive housing for people who are in difficult circumstances, who’ve been left out,” Tom Benevento said.
James Graham is one of those people.
“I was sleeping on the ground at OCP, and I was getting harassed by the police for doing so. When I was homeless, and I came here, it helped me out because I had a place to live. I had a roof over my head and food in my belly,” he said.
Residents of the Vine and Fig are learning to live in new ways that care for the earth and each other.
“It’s a space where we come together and recognize our own brokenness, as well as those who have been through even more trauma, and somehow we join together, the beloved community to heal each other. It’s a hard journey. It’s not easy. We make lots of mistakes, and we’re all learning from each other,” Benevento said.
“It’s all about community. We all look out for each other here,” Graham said.
Over the last 14 years community members have been able to renovate buildings in the neighborhood for people to live in.
“Through that effort of many people working together in Harrisonburg to help renovate the building and redo the land, which was all damaged. We’ve had sidewalks and roads built through here,” Benevento explained.
They’ve also been able to create and maintain green spaces that produce fresh, organic food.
But their work goes beyond that big white house.
“They’ve helped me in lots of ways and helped me help people in Guatemala by collecting clothing that I send down to Guatemala for people who need it there too,” Dina Perez said.
The Vine and Fig is working on several projects that benefit the local community as well.
“One, we’re working with schools with gardens for the kids and learning about food justice and issues around food,” Benevento said.
They are also using their jubilee climate farm to research how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to provide land access for refugees and immigrants who want to farm.
It’s work that Benevento said we can all be a part of.
“We need re-orient our lives so that we can have reverence and respect and gratitude toward all living things on this planet,” he added.
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