Who We Are

Mistinguette Smith, Executive Director

When Mistinguette Smith began to notice that black people think and talk about their relationship to land and place quite differently from the ways mainstream institutions do, The Black/Land Project was born. As the Founder and Director of the Black/Land Project, she has travelled the country gathering black people’s stories about relationship to southern farmland, urban city-scapes, changing neighborhoods, and public green spaces since the fall of 2010.  Blending her literary ear as a poet and essayist with her professional knowledge of women’s health, food security, and leadership development for social equity, Smith turns the gift of individual stories into a body of information that engages and heals black communities. Smith is a skilled analyst, trainer and facilitator, and a masterful speaker who captivates both academic and community audiences.  A graduate of Smith College, she holds the MPA in Public and Nonprofit Management from New York University. She was the Twink Frey Visiting Social Activist at the University of Michigan Center for the Education of Women , and was named one of YES! magazine‘s “People We Love” in 2013 . She currently lives in Massachusetts.

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Diedre F. Houchen

Diedre joins the Black/Land Project as a Postdoctoral Associate at the University of Florida Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations. She is an award-winning researcher, educator, writer, speaker, and mother whose work is grounded in emancipatory educational theory. Presently she focuses on historical and contemporary Black southern education and community life. Her analyses suggest that southern Black communities—through schools, professional associations, informal networks, and parent organizations were complex grounds of theoretical construction for organized resistance against oppression and emancipatory strategizing for achievement and liberation. Her most recent work is a three-site exhibition focusing on the activism,  role, and strategies of Black educators and segregated all-Black K-12 institutions in Florida from 1920-1960.  You may find her latest publication here.

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Eve Tuck, Consultant/Collaborator

Eve Tuck is Associate Professor of Critical Race and Indigenous Studies at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). She is also Canada Research Chair of Indigenous Methodologies with Youth and Communities. She makes a podcast with graduate students at OISE, University of Toronto, called The Henceforward, on relationship between Indigenous and Black communities on Turtle Island, and advises Black/Land on the participatory action research aspects of our work. She has conducted participatory action research with New York City youth on the uses and abuses of the GED option, the impacts of mayoral control, and school non-completion.  Her current research is with migrant youth in New York’s Hudson Valley. Her publications are concerned with the ethics of social science research and educational research, Indigenous social and political thought, decolonizing research methodologies and theories of change, and the consequences of neoliberal accountability policies on school completion.  She is the author of Urban Youth and School Push-Out: Gateways, Get-aways, and the GED (2013)  and co-editor (with K. Wayne Yang) of Youth Resistance Research and Theories of Change (2014).  Tuck’s writings have appeared in Harvard Educational ReviewDecolonization: Indigeneity, Education, and Society and several edited volumes.  She is co-editor of a forthcoming special issue of Environmental Education Research on land education with Kate McCoy and Marcia McKenzie.   Tuck is an enrolled member of the Tribal Government of St. Paul Island, in Alaska.

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Sueño Viveros, Consultant/Collaborator

Sueño brings her experience as an operations manager and community organizer to help breathe life into the Black/Land Project. A Black and Native import to Pittsburgh, PA from Cali, Colombia, she is Co-Founder of OKRA Ethics, Co-Founder of Black Femme Excellence Co., and serves as the Chair of the Allegheny County Health Department’s Infant Mortality Collaborative. Her current research examines historical practices of nomadism and how their contemporary expressions serve as a framework for Black/Indigenous-centric healing, a praxis which often gets dismissed as a wild and uncivilized non-strategy. She is also writing a forthcoming piece that addresses Black and Indigenous wisdom for self-organizing and its place in philanthropy.

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Tavia Benjamin, Program Consultant

A North Carolina native, Tavia Benjamin graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2011 with a double major in Anthropology and Global Studies. Having had experience as a campus activist, community organizer, facilitator and trainer, and a young nonprofit professional, Tavia brings a wealth of knowledge to her position. She has conducted original research and fieldwork in the U.S., Tanzania, Mexico, and Guatemala on issues of food justice, gender, race, and health. Her other research interests include food sovereignty, community economic development, and social justice movement-building, and she is a 2014 North Carolina Food Justice Fellow. She currently lives in Washington, D.C

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Allison Guess, Program Consultant

Allison Guess co-designed and runs the MyStory Campaign and supports our links to academic institutions and our research on transcending historical trauma. Guess  is a graduate student in Geography at the City University of New York, and an alumna of the University of Pittsburgh with a double major in Political Science and Hispanic Languages and Literature. Her research interests include redlining, voting rights, urban renewal, housing segregation, geopolitical struggles, land rights of Afro-descendants (both domestically and abroad), gentrification, migration, and the Black middle class. She currently lives in Las Vegas, NV.


Program Board

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Lynn Harvey-Akan

Lynn is an independent communications professional who has worked in the private, government and nonprofit sectors. She offers Black/Land her knowledge of public affairs and resource development, and shares her many relationships in commercial and public media.  A skillful intercultural communicator, Harvey-Akan has lived and worked in the midwestern and southern United States as well as internationally, most recently in Jiaozuo City, Henan Province, Peoples Republic of China.  A native of Schenectady, NY,  she currently makes her home in Greensboro N.C. but believes “your place in the universe is as big or as small as you make it.”

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Frank Lowery, Jr.

Frank offers The Black/Land Project board his expertise in business and finance related to land ownership. He is a licensed Illinois realtor with Weichert Realtors – Frankel & Giles, located in Chicago’s, South Loop location. Prior to life in Chicago, Frank spent two years living in Central Europe and 10 years working in the financial services industry in Ohio. Frank graduated from the University of Akron with a Business & Organizational Communication degree. His interests include travel, music and reading.

 

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Terra Turner

Terra is very excited to be a part of the Black/Land Project as it is a marriage of her many passions: real estate, gardening, social justice, African American history, public policy, economic empowerment, food justice, green technologies, education and the lives of women. She is a clinician (BS, Occupational Therapy, the Ohio State University 1987) and management consultant (MS, Non-Profit Management, The New School for Social Research 1990). She has worked in those capacities in medical, educational, and philanthropic organizations in Ohio and New York for the past 25 years. Turner has a deep relationship to place in East Cleveland, Ohio, where she spent her childhood, and once again lives.

The Black/Land Project is a sponsored program of Community Ventures.