On November 17th, I (Rachel) called Kellie with a proposition.
“Kellie, you need to move into the Firehouse in 5 Points!”
We had talked that weekend about the tremendous need for Kellie to be in Montgomery where “her people” are (and not to mention the fact that manufacturing G.E.A.R. out of her mother’s living room couldn’t continue much longer.)
Kellie has been busting with new ideas and new vision for Re-Invention and we needed SPACE! And not just any space, but a place for Kellie to live and work in the city where the dream is becoming reality. We knew she had to be somewhere where she could grow and where the people we are working with could come together. The Firehouse presented the perfect opportunity.
Before we go any further here’s a little background: The Firehouse was one of the first firehouses in downtown Montgomery and was known as“Firestation No. 3” back in its day. It faithfully served the historic Cottage Hill neighborhood as well as downtown. Today, the area is a neglected part of town called 5 Points where Goldwaithe, Montgomery, Milldredge, Mobile and Clayton street all meet. It’s a strip of boarded up shops across from a high rise vacant apartment complex that sits across the street next to a large empty concrete space. Kellie and I walked these streets 2 years ago and I remember us talking with certainty that one day, yes one day, Re-Invention would be here. It was one of those soul deep feelings where you “just know", but have no idea how it's going to happen.
Needless, to say when I called her with the idea, she was in even though we had no idea how we were going to make it happen. This is the part where faith steps in.
A few days later we met with the City Development Director, Chad. During that time he asked Kellie to make an offer. She was stunned. She definitely couldn’t buy it. But she could lease it. After a couple of weeks of negotiations, it was hers. The City of Montgomery so graciously allowed Kellie to lease it with the option to buy the property, which we WILL do! (God providing!) We are looking forward to pioneering the area of 5 Points and hope to encourage future development in the area where so much potential lies shut behind boarded up storefronts and overgrown lots.
On Thursday, it all came full circle. The mayor gave a press conference at The Firehouse and Kellie was asked to speak. She beautifully articulated the passion that drives what R-I does to provide an economic solution to the poverty in our own cities. Those supporting her had lumps in our throat as we watched. It’s happening! We knew that 2012 was going to be a year of seeing dreams unfold!
Here are some pictures of these latest happenings:
|Mayor Strange introducing Kellie and Re-Invention as the newest business in Downtown. We hope to bring 25 jobs to the area in the long-term.|
The area where Kellie will be living and working is perfect for R-I. It represents so much of what this businiess is about. We are literally in the middle of black and white, rich and poor, resourced and under resourced. We look forward to being a part of an economic alternative to bridge the gap. And no, Kellie is not fearing for her safety :)