WHO WE ARE
EDWARD L. COOPER COMMUNITY GARDENING & EDUCATION CENTER, INC. (ELCC)
Located in one of Boston’s oldest neighborhoods, the Edward L. Cooper Community Gardening & Education Center, Inc. (ELCC) is one of Boston’s oldest community gardening initiatives. Under the leadership of Edward L. Cooper the “Seeds of Hope” were planted by the senior citizens of Roxbury in an effort to both utilize and beautify unattended vacant lots in their neighborhood. Our goal is to become an Environmental Learning
Oasis in the heart of Roxbury.
Today the Cooper Center includes the Teddy Pomare Rose Garden, the Edward Cooper Gardens on Linwood Street, the Alan Crite Garden on Cedar Street and an adjoining orchard – a total of approximately fifty gardens in all. Two garages have been renovated into a facility that houses office space, a community meeting room, full kitchen, and emergency food pantry.
The mission of the Edward L. Cooper Community Garden & Education Center is to promote the social, economic and educational development of community residents by providing facilities and supportive services emphasizing community empowerment and environmental sustainability. In addition the Center seeks to offer environmental science enrichment programming that promotes collegiate and career advancement in STEAM.
EDWARD L. COOPER
His name is legendary in the Highland Park Community. Mr. Cooper provided over sixty years of service empowering and uplifting neighborhood residents. He started in 1932 at the First National Stores franchise in Roxbury as the first and only black employee.
Working with the Urban League to demand that the chain hire black managers for stores in Black neighborhoods, he applied for the job. The store offered to hire him as a bagger at $5.13/ per week. The store closed soon after, but Mr. Cooper organized support for a petition to re-open the store with him as manager.
Through hard work and ingenuity, he made the store successful. When he left the company in 1942, he had been a respected manager for a decade.
His courage and unwavering commitment to public service and equality spanned over six decades:
Industrial Director of the Urban League of Boston
Executive Director of the Boston Branch of the NAACP
Boston Redevelopment Specialist with the BRA
President of the Boston Urban Gardens
1980s – 1990s
President of the Highland 400 which became the Edward L. Cooper
Gardening and Education Center Present Board
PRESENT BOARD MEMBERS
James Owens, the current Chairman of the Edward L. Cooper Community Gardening & Education Center Board of Directors, has over a fifty-year career in business where his roles ranged from corporate executive to entrepreneur.
Throughout this period, he consistently served as a board member for various community organizations including Omega Psi Phi as well
as the Action for Boston Community Development Inc (ABCD).
BA, President Emeritus
Willie Brown Jr., a longtime resident of the Highland Park Community, is a member of the Edward Cooper Gardening & Education Center. His community activism in Boston expands over several decades.
Specifically, Mr. Brown has served in different capacities for the Highland Park Neighborhood Association, the National American Friends Committee and the Concerned Black Men of Massachusetts. Presently, Mr. Brown serves as President Emeritus for the ELCCC.
Palmer Doiley, a longtime resident of the Highland Park Community, is a Founding member of the Edward Cooper Gardening & Education Center. His community activism in Boston started decades ago as a social worker at Dennison House and later as an analyst with the Roxbury Action Program and subsequently at Abt Associates where he worked to stave off gentrification.
He later moved to public service at the BRA and ended his professional career at the Internal Revenue Service. Presently, Mr. Doiley serves as Treasurer for the ELCC.
After a brief stint as a public-school music educator, George retired after 35 years as a labor union educator, organizer, and trainer. The focus of his union work was based on his belief in the capacity of ordinary people to come together to create collective power to bring change to issues that are important to them.
Mr. Luse has served in various capacities with numerous community organizations, including Concerned Black Men of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Jobs with Justice, and the Mel King Institute.
Kern Tyler is a passionate and self-reliant professional with over 20 years of progressive experience assessing and responding to business needs of clients. A CRM specialist who has worked on three different continents and runs a local property Management company that services the community.
He is currently the clerk of the Edward L. Cooper Community Gardening & Education Center and serves on other local boards.
Napoleon Jones-Henderson, a native of Chicago, is a visual artist who has lived in the Highland Park area for more than four decades. A member of the Chicago-based artists’ collective AfriCOBRA (African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists), he uses art as a medium to address social justice issues.
Over the course of his career, Jones-Henderson has served in various academic positions at Malcolm X College in Chicago, Massachusetts College of Art, Emerson College in Boston, Roxbury Community College, Vermont College of Norwich University. Currently Jones-Henderson is Executive Director of the Research Institute of African and African Diaspora Arts, Inc. and BENNU ARTS, LLC.
A recipient of several awards, both for his artwork, curatorial efforts championing Black Art internationally he has been honored with the 2015 Boston Foundation’s “Brother Thomas Fellowship” and the Merit of Honor Award from the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. Jones-Henderson’s private collections and/or numerous commissioned art have been featured in the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Museum of NCAAA and Studio Museum in Harlem.
Ron Riggs, the owner of a local home/commercial inspection company, has lived in Mattapan, Dorchester, and Roxbury for over 40+ years. In the last 20 years, he has lived on Thornton St in Roxbury. Ron has served as a C-level executive in various nonprofit associations in Massachusetts and Georgia.
He also has served on several nonprofit Boards of Directors as Board President or in an Executive Board position. Some of the Boards he has served on include the Edward L. Cooper Community Gardening & Education Center, Eta Phi Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc, New England Society of Association Executives, and the Invictus Foundation.
Born and raised in Roxbury, Pam has fond memories of her neighbor across the street - Mr. Cooper! Her roots to the community and the Cooper Center run deep, as a child of one of the founding members of the Center. Mr. Cooper and other elders of the community, who’s legacy can be seen in the educational programs offered at the center, had a lasting impact on Pam.
A graduate of Boston Latin School, Pam has a B.A. in English and Political Science from Johnson C. Smith University, a M.Ed from Boston College, as well as a JD from Northeastern University School of Law.