Baye Adofo-Wilson grew up in Paterson, N.J., about 20 minutes away from the rough and tumble of Newark, a city in constant need of rehabilitation and revitalization. In 1999, he took an interest in Newark’s Lincoln Park Coast neighborhood, an area that had been home to black artists and jazz music, and started the Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District. The idea was to build a sustainable community that would also help revive the black arts scene. Since 2004, six green mixed-use buildings have sprung up across the neighborhood, and each is expected to be recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council for their energy efficiency and overall sustainable design. “This was an area that had deteriorated over a decade,” Adofo-Wilson says. His organization has also created the Green Collar Apprenticeship Program (GreenCAP), that will build a new green jobs workforce for future building development.
Adofo-Wilson has set out to transform the area into an urban eco-village, wooing people to the new earth-friendly space through music and culture. Last July, 40,000 people gathered in Lincoln Park to enjoy jazz, gospel, house and hip-hop music at the 3rd annual Lincoln Park Music Festival. “The Lincoln Park Music Festival is intergenerational,” Adofo-Wilson says. “By having all different types of music, you expose different generations to the sustainable lifestyle.”