On November 6 & 7, AARN alongside the Brown Grove Preservation Group, and the International Commission of Transitional Justice, held the Brown Grove Empowerment and Strategic Planning Retreat for the community of Brown Grove, Virginia.
Brown Grove, Virginia is a predominantly Black community that was settled by freed slaves. The community has been inundated with industry for years. Examples include unattended businesses, displacement of homes and land, physical land division of Brown Grove by interstate 95; displaced families due to airport expansion, and more. Brown Grove is currently facing the biggest threat of its 150 year history: a 1.1 million square foot Wegmans distribution center operating 24/7/365 in the middle of its Black heritage lands, churches, homes and family burial sites, and a Black-only School archaeological site. This project would also destroy protected wetlands and bring dangerous levels of deadly smog from diesel truck emissions, polluting the water they drink and air they breathe. The Brown Grove community is fighting to preserve their health, historic places and way of life.
The goal of the retreat was to unite the community in their efforts, develop a clear vision of goals, and to increase capacity. Instrumental to the success of the retreat were members of AARN's Virginia Reparations Coalition, who provided additional support and expertise. Members of the Coalition included RASR
, the Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative
, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network
, and Sunrise Richmond Virginia.