About the speaker

Winston Robinson is a native of Charlotte’s Wilmore community. Shortly after purchasing their first home, Winston’s wife encouraged him to attend a neighborhood association meeting. During this meeting he was elected to serve as president of the Lockwood Neighborhood Association. Around this time, Lockwood had been deemed the third-fasted gentrifying neighborhood in America (according to a study by Realtor.com). Winston served as president for a little over two years, when the addition of a child prompted a move from Lockwood to the historic McCrorey Heights community, where he continues to be actively engaged in community development. Growing up in Wilmore throughout the 1980’s and 90’s, Winston witnessed the perils of disinvestment in a community. He later saw how strategic reinvestment shifted the demographics of that same community, resulting in large-scale displacement for many long-term residents. During his term as president of the Lockwood Neighborhood Association, he began to see many of the same patterns of long-term residents becoming displaced. The residents who were able to hang on expressed feelings of being unheard and powerless. He often pondered on how we arrived to this standard as a society. Those thoughts led him to read “The Case for Reparations” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, followed by Richard Rothstien’s “Color of Law.” These two writings changed his perspective. He began to piece together the life experiences of himself, his parents and essentially everyone he knew. When he noticed very similar patterns that are traceable to not-so-old past housing policy in America, he became infuriated. The breadcrumbs that lead directly to a large portion of a community’s conditioning were blatant. Looking to do a small part to counter seemingly endless deprivation, Winston salvaged an annual cookout that he hosted with a group of friends, into a festival celebration that encourages viable homeownership. The annual festival is named A Vibe Called Fresh (a corny pun based on the name of legendary hip-hop trio, A Tribe Called Quest). This platform utilizes fun to connect historically disenfranchised people to information, introductory education, tools and homeownership resources. One of the only drawbacks of A Vibe Called Fresh’s success has been its limited capacity. Winston often receives inquiries from people who were not able to attend the annual event. To remedy this shortfall, in 2020, Winston founded a 501c3 non-profit organization named, The Applesauce Group, with the plans to develop more amazingly fun, empowerment-based events throughout the year. The Applesauce Group’s name derives from the old parental trick of masking the taste of medicine with applesauce. Utilizing an enjoyable experience as a resourceful method to deliver uneasy essentials is the founding principle of The Applesauce Group.

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