This week’s Transform Westside Summit spotlight is on Shantae Robinson of iwi fresh, a full-service day spa located in the Castleberry Hill community.
After our April 6th Summit, we sat down with Shantae, the spa’s community connector, who also happens to be an avid Transform Westside Summit attendee.
As an East Point native and Spelman College graduate, Shantae is committed to helping the Westside revitalize and grow. Check out some highlights below from our Q&A with Shantae.
What first brought you to the Transform Westside Summit?
I believe I attended my first Summit in October or November of last year. It was a friend of mine, actually, who told me about the Summit and thought I should check it out.
As the community connector for iwi fresh, you have a very hands-on relationship with the community. The Summits provide a great opportunity to connect with the community and other organizations. Is that what’s kept you coming back?
Yes, we’ve made quite a few beneficial connections through the Summits. I love the introductions! What I also like is the timing. Because it’s on a Friday, everything is so fresh on your mind and you have the weekend to plan, to make those appointments, and to talk to those people you made a connection with.
I’m also a Westside native, and having these experiences are very important to me. I feel responsible for helping to shape what the new Atlanta is as far as the redevelopment, pushing Atlanta forward, and making sure the natives, like me, have a say in what’s happening and that the legacy residents have a say.
Shantae, after making her pledge to the Westside during a Transform Westside Summit: “I pledge to volunteer and bring others. I pledge to collaborate and foster partnerships to help raise environmental and health awareness throughout the Westside.”
What role do you feel you play in the revitalization of the Historic Westside?
I believe I play an interesting role. I’m not only a connector, but I also think I have a really unique perspective. It’s different when you have someone who is a native and has the exposure that I’ve had. It takes a certain sensitivity to really speak to what the Westside needs. People have great ideas and great intentions, but some challenges we face are making sure there’s that open communication and inclusion, especially right now during this transitional time.
It’s an interesting time too, because you have an increased desire for collaboration, and you have the platform, space and resources available to make those connections.
I also feel iwi fresh plays an important role in the revitalization. What I love about iwi fresh is its focus on the community. iwi fresh has proven to be a community staple. We’ve been here [in Castleberry Hill] for eight years now. We register people to vote here. We host community events. We’ve seen the Westside transform.
There’s a lot of work that still needs to be done and a lot of areas that still need to be improved, but this is a good start. I feel like this redevelopment is headed in the right direction. There may be a few speed bumps along the way, but it’s headed in the right direction.
Last week, our Transform Westside Summit featured a presentation by Terry Tucker, CEO of Families First. What was your biggest takeaway from that meeting?
That one was very inspirational. We are actually looking at ways to collaborate…We have a program called Green Skin Girls and another program called Boys Skin Joy. What we do is teach the youth how to care for their skin naturally and in a “green” way. We teach them ways of skincare and in turn boost self-esteem. There are so many benefits of having good skin. People don’t realize that self-care is so important and everything is tied to that. For the Green Skin Girls, we have girls in the Georgia Independent Living Program (or foster care) and being able to connect that program with what Families First is doing will help us expand our reach and impact, so we are really excited about that.
What is your hope for the Westside?
My hope for the Westside is that we get a true voice and collaborative representation, where we can all come together to figure out how to really help the Westside flourish. By true representation, I mean getting input from the natives, the business owners, and organizations, in addition to making sure the legacy residents and companies are placed first.
Want to learn more about iwi fresh? Visit their website, Facebook or Instagram, or join them Friday, April 13 for their Farmers Art Gallery!