THE BLOG
07/13/2012 03:20 pm ET Updated Sep 12, 2012

From a Crack House to a Safe House: Ryan Mack Visits the Walnut Way Center

If you have ever seen a crack/drug house in a neighborhood, there is nothing nice about it. I remember when I was around 12 years old in Detroit there was one that sprung up near my grandmother's home that we could actually see through the back window. We used to watch seemingly for hours especially in the early morning as the luxury cars would pull up to the curb outside of the home. It was just like a drive-through window as the "runner" would come up to the car, take the order and money, run back to the side of the house where the stash was located, run back to the car to deliver the drugs, and the car would drive away. It was interesting because most were businessmen who you could just tell didn't live on this side of town and were on their way to work. That image remains sketched in my head.

As I came to maturity, I have always wanted to find productive ways to stop this from happening in my neighborhood and in communities across the country. In the middle of my Less Talk... More Action tour, I found one of the most tangible solutions I have ever seen when I met Sharon Adams, creator and visionary of Walnut Way Conservative Corporation.

The Walnut Way Center was in the middle of an urban community in Milwaukee, Wis. and was one of the most impressive sites I had ever seen. As you stand at the front of the home you see impressive signage, flowers, and a wonderfully manicured abode. If you look to the right you see a peach orchard, if you look to the left you see an impressive garden (when I was there it was not yet in season), and if you look behind you see a bee farm! Yes... I was in the middle of the hood and you can see all of this wonder... It blew my mind!

Another interesting fact to this story was that at one point in time, 2003 to be exact, the Walnut Way Center used to be a crack house where drugs were made, drugs were sold, drugs were used, and in the basement a woman and her daughter were killed. The home next door which was usually infested with "crackheads" was replaced by the beautiful peach orchard. At the time I was there the orchard was being worked on by one of the many teens who lived in the neighborhood and volunteered to help with the upkeep of the land in return for some good education.

Sharon Adams, her husband Larry, returned home and saw this eyesore of a crack house and now it sits as the heart of a growing community due to their vision. She walked me through the home explaining their vision and how they were able to turn a crack house to an empowerment hub of the community. They sell 600 gallons of honey every year from the bee farm, they make and sell almost two tons of food to the community, the fresh peaches hardly have a chance to grow fully before they are plucked ripe and purchased by those in the neighborhood... It is truly a remarkable sight. Then she began to explain their vision for the future which consisted of a grocery store, a medical clinic, and much more. Here you have a perfect economic model of self-sufficiency in action!

I was inspired enough to create this video on their behalf, which I am sure is way too long for the average attention span of the average YouTube viewer. However, as much as I tried to make it shorter, I didn't want to do injustice to one of the most inspirational stories I have come across on this tour. I urge you all to watch this video, and to learn more about the Walnut Way Conservative Corporation, visit www.walnutway.org. I am sure you will have a desire to make a donation, or at least purchase some of their fresh honey or products! Perhaps you can be inspired to create a Walnut Way Center in the middle of your neighborhood? The Walnut Way Conservative Corporation is truly "Less Talk... More Action!"

Ryan Mack visits Walnut Way Conservative Corporation