-- As upper Manhattan faces rapid gentrification, a local nonprofit in Harlem is hoping to preserve an especially important brownstone -- the former home of Langston Hughes.
Through an IndieGoGo campaign, the I, Too, Arts Collective is hoping to raise $150,000 in order to lease the home from its current owner and renovate the space. To date, the campaign has raised an impressive $59,907 in donations and generated buzz in the literary community.
The organization's mission is two-fold, its leader, Renée Watson, explained to ABC News.
"I wanted to create a space for young people to learn about Langston and his legacy, but also to add on to it," she said.
The goal is to preserve the home and restore its natural state, but also to create a cultural space for the community. Watson plans on organizing programs such as open mic nights, readings, workshops and intensives. She will also open doors to artists and authors who wish to showcase their work.
An author of children's literature, Watson decided to take action after returning from her recent book tour, during which she was promoting a children's book that dealt with ideas of gentrification.
"The urgency came more recently after having so many conversations with young people about what it means to lose these sacred places," she told ABC News. She also couldn't help but notice how much her neighborhood had changed during the short time she was away.
Though Watson is leading the efforts, she describes the campaign as an "organic movement" that the community has long talked about and is now embracing wholeheartedly.
If all goes as planned, I, Too, Arts Collective will transform a home currently marked by a mere plaque into a portal to the past with the power to shape the future.