Mama Shu

Mama Shu

Founder & CEO

The Avalon Village

Detroit, MI USA

When you look at ugliness [in your community], it tears everything down. Folks feel like it’s hopeless. It’s only so long that you can live in that type of environment. Nor, is it fair. People deserve better.


By Roadtrip Nation

Mama Shu


My road in life took a while to figure out.
Grew up in the Highland Park neighborhood of Detroit, MI.
As an adult, she continued to live, work, and raise her family in the neighborhood even as it became blighted—buildings sat vacant, trash covered the streets, and crime became an increasing problem.
She worked as a school administrator for 27 years and has owned small businesses within the community since 1998.
In 2007, her 2-year-old son, Jakobi, was killed by a hit-and-run driver.
Inspired to make the neighborhood safe for other children, she bought one of the abandoned buildings for $3,000, transformed it into her ministry, and built a park in honor of her son nearby.
Spent the next decade assembling a team of engineers, futurists, artists, urban farmers, volunteers and donors from around the world to revitalize the neighborhood one lot at a time.
Has received funding from Alex Ebert, lead singer of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and his nonprofit, Big Sun Foundation, and Ellen DeGeneres, enabling her to work on a much larger scale.
The neighborhood is now known as The Avalon Village, a sustainable ecovillage that currently sits on 20 parcels of land with after-school learning, holistic healing centers, greenhouses, and more.
Keep following my journey


High School


Founder & CEO

I am a mother and a community activist building a sustainable eco-village in Detroit, MI.

Career Roadmap

My work combines:
My work combines:
Non-Profit Organizations
Upholding a Cause and Belief

Day to Day

I'm called the unlikely urban planner...My day is always busy and challenging. I occupy a variety of roles...I am the community organizer, the developer, the urban planner, security, social services, and so much more. I do whatever is needed of me in order to keep the Village functioning and growing on a daily basis. I also rely heavily on help. People make this all possible and my team is influential in helping to manage all of the different tasks on the property.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for everyone

Just start something, no matter how small. Helping and giving back are infectious. Spread the love. Have no fear in anything that you do. No matter what you go through, have gone through, or how bad things can get, know that you can overcome it and do anything.


The Noise I Shed

From Society in General:

"You must be crazy."

Challenges I Overcame

Death And Loss
Socio-Economic Origin