Two Charlotte women and their creative solutions for a better city

Two Charlotte women and their creative solutions for a better city
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Amanda Zullo and Kia Moore were selected as Charlotte’s winners of the Knight Foundation/8 80 Cities Emerging City Champions competition.

Basically, the national competition is a fellowship program that gives innovators the opportunity to implement their solutions to their cities’ biggest problems with a $5,000 grant.

Real Charlotteans getting real money to make our city better — now that’s cool.

Amanda Zullo grew up roaming her grandmother’s garden.

But she didn’t connect those childhood experiences to her life until grad school where she connected her focus in architecture and urban design to social issues through civic engagement.

That’s when Zullo recognized the generational change. Even though our generation loves the idea of farmers markets and supporting locally-grown produce, there’s an educational gap since we don’t actually know how to grow our own food due to factors like urban migration and limited yard space.

photo via PopUpProduceCLT

photo via PopUpProduceCLT

The problem: Socio-economic issues of food disparity, food insecurity and food deserts.

Zullo wants to make sure that the lack of locational healthy food options doesn’t dictate someone’s ability to enjoy a healthy diet. And she realized that this problem affects people in all income brackets — whether you lack the knowledge of how to grow your own food or the space to do so — Zullo’s plan encompasses the solution to more than one obstacle to food disparity.


Part of her motivation are facts like that there are 72,793 Charlotte residents, who, according to the criteria, live in food deserts. That’s insane.

Her solution is a starter kit of seeds and soil.

Zullo is going to use the seed money to empower and inspire others to improve their own lives. Her goal is to sell a take-home toolkit that consists of various supplies, such as a starter kit of seeds and soil, as well as a user-friendly, visual “how to” document so that families and individuals can grow their own food.

Get involved on twitter and Instagram: @PopUpProduceCLT

Kia Moore says when she took a music industry class while studying abroad in London, she realized how hip hop music, and music in general, could be a vehicle for social change.

She imagined mixing orchestral music and hip hop, creating a unique sound that both orchestra and hip hop listeners could enjoy together — and how that would affect the social climate between the two groups.


The problem: Upward mobility and social barriers

Moore believes that a big part of success is about who you know, not just what you can do. So by merging these two types of music, inherently merging two different music-loving crowds, Moore will be building connections between communities and between people. And hopefully, these connections will result in more social and economic opportunities, pulling people out of failing cycles of mobility.

These Charlotte connections will improve communication, and she hopes that more communication will reveal commonalities between people who don’t think they have anything in common.

The solution is a hip-hop orchestra.

Moore’s plan is to assemble a hip-hop orchestra from local Charlotte talent and hold pop-up concerts. At the very least, Moore believes the hip hop orchestra will start conversations — which is the first step to building stronger connections across different Charlotte communities.

The money will go to acquiring a space to play, instruments, and recruiting hip hop and orchestral talent. Her philosophy is that all people can appreciate something that’s beautiful and can share in that experience together.

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