The Soil of The Root
As known to many, barbershops and salons in urban neighborhoods have been widely hailed and accepted as community staples and cornerstones. It is commonly understood that these local businesses are ones of communal education and generational passing of cultural traditions, customs, and belief systems - since their inception.
Given this, we, The Conscious Connect. Inc, are seeking your assistance in further mobilizing our state-wide movement known as "The Root." The mission of “The Root” is to promote self-awareness, identity development, and reading comprehension, while increasing self-esteem among youth – by mobilizing neighborhood barbershops and salons as community resource centers of urban culture and education to end book deserts in Ohio.
With multiple locations already established in our backyard of Southwest Ohio, multiple other partners identified, and increasing interest across the entire state, we are asking you to help us offer this opportunity to more children, as it is sure to reach a location near you, in the future. Further, we carefully hand select all books to ensure cultural relevance, in addition to taking the attentiveness and assertiveness to be the national leader in taking this concept beyond the barbershops - and into the beauty salons for our young girls.
What's The Difference
With many similar initiatives that emerged across the country in the Spring of 2015, you may ask, why us? Here we have outlined some critical differences of our initiative in relation to other initiatives that place books in barbershops across the nations:
Beauty Salons - We are the first organization nationally to implement this concept beyond the barbershops and into the beauty salons
Culturally Relevant Book Selection - Each and every book in our participating locations are carefully selected and examined so that our children can begin to identify as readers - through stories they experience. For our children and youth, we define culturally relevant as books that feature Black main characters and/or are written by Black authors.
#EndBookDeserts - Through analytic research, we are strategic about launching "The Root" in areas that have been identified as "book deserts." We will #EndBookDeserts in all major urban cities in the State of Ohio by 2021.
Local Grassroots Approach - We have focused our efforts on one community at a time to yield impact and evidenced-based results with depth as we #EndBookDeserts.
Programmatic Backing - "The Root" is the catalyst of what we do, but is far of the be-all, end-all. Our summer reading program "Cutting Illiteracy" aggressively attacks summer lag and our annual "Back 2 The Roots" bus tour exposed our youth to a deeper consciousness of cultural awareness and heritage.
What Are Book Deserts?
Many people are familiar with the term "food desert," but not many people know of the term "book deserts." Why is that? People learn to survive (and sometimes thrive) in the conditions they have grown accustomed to generationally, without ever knowing the resources they truly lack.
A food desert is defined as 'an urban area in which it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food.' People will often say, "A grocery store is within 3 miles of that area. How can it be a food desert?" A geographical area can be a food desert in one of 2 ways: 1) none of the grocery stores provide healthy food options; 2) a lack of financial resources and/or lack of transportation prohibits residents from purchasing healthy food options.
Similarly to food deserts, areas of a lower socioeconomic status have a higher vulnerability of being a "book desert." We define a "book desert" in the following way:
Book Desert [boo-k * dez-ert] | noun |
A geographical area that lacks the access and/or resources to high-quality, affordable, and culturally relevant and responsive print books.
In April of 2016, Clark County in Ohio became the first county to undergo the first phase to end book deserts through "The Root."
In January of 2017, with locations of The Root established in Springfield (Clark County), Dayton and Trotwood (Montgomery County), and Xenia (Greene County), the Greater Miami Valley became the first region in Ohio to undergo the first phase of ending book deserts.