The 49507 Project is a POC-LGBTQ and youth-led project, rooted in collaboration, that teaches art and event organizing, and commissions community art for and by people of color in the 49507 neighborhood.

Diatribe logo

Can Community Outreach Be Organic?

Can we use art to further activate neighbors, shift power dynamics in historically underserved areas, and more importantly, change the narrative?

The 49507 Project: Public Thread- Location 2

Diatribe logo

The 49507 Project: Public Thread- Location 2

Project 49507 is a POC-LGBTQ and youth-led project, rooted in collaboration, that teaches art and event organizing, and commissions community art for and by people of color in the 49507 neighborhood.

Can Community Outreach Be Organic?

Can we use art to further activate neighbors, shift power dynamics in historically underserved areas, and more importantly, change the narrative?

Can we plant seeds that will bloom into the south side becoming a Multicultural Arts District?

Public Thread

Public Thread logo

Business Description

Public Thread is a for-profit business working to address social and environmental issues through the art of textiles. We are a textile upcycling company that diverts textile waste from our landfills and supports living wage jobs in the cut & sew industry.

The Mural will be located on the North facing wall of 1405 Buchanan Ave SW 49507

public thread storefront

Any cool history behind you getting this mural/what it means to you. 

Janay: I think getting this mural will be the beginning of a change in the black and brown communities. It’s not just a painting, it speaks emotion, pain, truth, and justice. It speaks to Industries that have not necessarily been equitable to the people who worked in them. This mural will begin to gather people who have different lived experiences in our communities and begin conversations that can start to heal our now and change our collective future.

Lisa Knight: Public Thread started in 2016 in the Founder’s kitchen. Since 2016 Public Thread has diverted more than 80,000 lbs of textile waste from our community’s landfills. 

During Covid we pivoted, with the intense help of our community, to design and bring to market a three-layer, high-quality reusable face mask within 7 days of the call from the community that we needed them. In 2020 we made 70,000+masks. 

We are so excited about the mural being added to the building. It will not only be a beautiful addition to an industrial area of the community but also a symbol of welcome for everyone that passes our building. We aim for our space and what we do inside to be a haven for creativity, innovation, community, and connection and we believe that adding community-led art across the 49507 area will catalyze positive growth for our local Black and Brown Creative Community/Economy and reflect on the outside of our building the kind of work we are doing inside our building and alongside our community. 

Thank you for this opportunity to partner and support our community’s creatives and incredible creative talent. 

 Your business social media/website info

Websitewww.publicthread.co

Instagram: @publicthread

The Wall:

1405 Buchanan building photo

What the words “Liberation” and “Reclamation” mean to you

Lisa Knight: Liberation is freedom, freedom to be who we are unashamedly, freedom to speak, act, sing, talk, dance and exist. It means I no longer have to be exploited for the gifts and talents I bring naturally to any space, I am strong, I am powerful and I can change the systems that have oppressed my people for so long. Unapologetically black!

Reclamation- This word has strong connotations to the work that is being created. It is having the ability to gather what was lost over time and walk with a sense of pride in that accomplishment. We can once again reclaim our communities, our children, our culture, and our sense of pride as Black people. People will walk through these neighborhoods and have conversations that will lead to past truths becoming more of a norm than what has been embedded in the minds of people. We will walk the streets with pride and hold the dignity that has been stripped from us through racist efforts.

Janay Brower: Liberation is my/ your / our ability to live as our full selves, without oppression, and the ability for full expression of who we came here to be. Shedding the constructs, labels and ideals to be who we really are – and loving it all, no matter how messy, complex and funky it gets. 

Reclaiming is about having in the eternal sense, control of our bodies, our hearts, our hurt, our joy, our connections, our lessons, our gifts – even as small as they sometimes seem – are ours alone. And then to be able to grow from the center of knowing that who we are, who we were born as, is enough, that the goodness and love, darkness and pain and everything in between is ours to do with as we see fit, that the universe has our back at all times, we are truly all connected, and to not allow our hearts to be used as a tool of a larger system but as a tool of freedom. 

Owners: Lisa Knight and Janay Brower

Lisa Knight

Bio- Lisa Knight, African American multi-business owner. Lisa is engaged in many community efforts, supporting equitable outcomes for the black and brown communities, and holds several seats on Boards and Committees that serve marginalized communities.

Lisa is passionate, driven, energetic and a thought leader in our community. Lisa’s talents go further than just business as an accomplished performer. Lisa is a mother of 9 adult children, 12 grandchildren, and 2 Great Grandchildren. She enjoys making connections, believing that we all intersect at one point in our lives and those connections can be strengthened when we communicate and share our ideas and thoughts with one another.

I am a mother of 9 children 5 boys and 4 girls, who are brilliant creators, dreamers, and entrepreneurs. I am a community member that seeks to empower, encourage and lift up individuals who have experienced hopelessness, a dreamer of what can be. I inspire hope in others to be change agents in their own spaces. I am creative and an unstoppable force for righteousness.

Your connection to GR- I was born and raised on 76th ST, SE, we were the only black family on a street that had maybe 5 houses on it. My friends were all white and I watched the juxtaposition of two different worlds. My father worked in factories, as did my mother. The majority of my immediate family lived in the City. A few times a week we would come to town to visit and go to church. For me it was exciting to see how other people lived and see the comparison on how we grew up, both have shaped my life very differently, especially on how I view the world and those who live in it. My father and uncle were the first black men to own their own plumbing business, my family-owned restaurants, and other businesses in our community and that was a great sense of pride, especially in a time when things were still so racially charged in the James Crow North.

Where you are from- Grand Rapids, Michigan

Picture of Lisa Knight

Janay Brower

Bio- Founder/CEO of Public Thread. Prior to launch she participated in systems change work in the public and nonprofit sectors before starting Public Thread in 2016.

A little bit about who you are- I am more alive now as a 43 year old than I have been since I was a young girl climbing trees and flying in my “spaceship” in the forest.  

Pursuing your dreams, especially when they are HARD, is the thing that unlocks your soul and tears you all the way apart  AND its what helps your true essence and joy to emerge. (If the stress of doesn’t kill you in the MF process.)

I have been on this path for a long time…but for many years I did not trust my instincts to guide me. I am only here, now, because of so many that loved and supported me. Love def matters. 

I am also Mother of two girls – 14 and 11 years old 

Libra Sun, Aries Rising, Pisces Moon

Enneagram 7 with an 8 wing

ENFP

A committed agent and catalyst for systemic change in my lifetime. 

Where you are from- Grew up in the city 

Your connection to Grand Rapids. 

Born in MI and raised in Grand Rapids. 

Sherwood Park Elementary > Iroquois > Ottawa /x/x/ >> Forest Hills 

Michigan State << GR >>

Portrait of Janay Brower
Diatribe Logo

Contact/Booking: info@thediatribe.org

We are a 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations.

epic + KCAD logo

Site Design by KCAD students & faculty as part of the EPIC Project.

Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs logo
Lowell Arts Logo