The Power of Intention can Change the World
For activist Eradajere Oleita, being able to connect with her community is the most important thing to her. Oleita, who has been an activist for many years has taken a special interest in building up the city of Detroit. She is now the founder of The Chip Bag Project in Detroit, Michigan where she is finding new and inclusive ways to interact with her community. Within two months of operation, The Chip Bag Project has a home base, a solid team and prospects of expanding into 30 different states and beyond including Brazil and parts of Canada. For Oleita, the exponential growth of this project over a short time span solidifies her belief that if it is destined, everything will align.
Born in Nigeria, Oleita has always had a deep connection to her community. In Nigeria, she was raised surrounded by her big family, something in which she values very deeply. When she was 13 years old, she moved to the United States, with her parents and two younger siblings. The family first settled in Texas and for Oleita, there was not much of a lifestyle change. “I didn’t really see a big difference between like my life there, and my life here, like little tweaks and little things, but it was essentially the same.”
In her sophomore year of high school her family relocated to Livonia, Michigan. Upon arriving, she realized that there were cultural differences amongst people who lived in different states. “It was like a complete culture shock for me. I went to a school in Houston, Texas where it was, 98% or 99%, predominantly Black and Brown kids.” And for the first time I was really confronted with my blackness.” While living in Livonia, she was introduced to the city of Detroit by her friends. Detroit City has a very special place in Oleita’s heart and its residents remind her of the family she left behind in Nigeria. “It’s just been a place that has been attracting me ever since. As I met more people and became more ingrained and abetted into the fabric of the city, I realized that these are my family members. They are my chosen family. Detroit is my chosen home.”
After high school, Oleita went on to study at Wayne State University. During this time, she began to question her life’s direction and was overwhelmed with the desire to accomplish something great. Her journey to receiving her degree has not been a simple one. Oleita had to take a break from pursuing her degree in Biomedical Physics to tend to her own health. “I had an entire mental breakdown, dropped out of school, and got into a mental home because I was just in a place where I was living for everybody else”. But after dropping out of school, Oleita did some soul searching. She realized that serving her community was what made her happy. It was during this time she birthed, The Chip Bag Project. Creating these types of sleeping bags is not a new concept but she strives to make her contribution to her community unique. For Oleita it is important to show that resources can be found and created within her community. “All I can think about is Detroit. How my collaboration with a person right now can help Detroit in the next 30 years to come. How will my project right now affect people’s lives the next five years? I want to show that in an urban state and in an urban city, like Detroit, where it’s predominantly black, we can create great jobs.” One of Oleita’s main goals is to create economic opportunity for her community.
Her intention to be of service to those in the community brings the most value to this project. Oleita has a method for how she plans to distribute the sleeping bags made. “We really want to make sure that we’re actively passing them out and not just passively. So it goes beyond just giving you a sleeping bag and that’s it. What else do you need? How can we also offer you support? What can we do for you right now in this moment and what can we do for you three months from now? How can we get you to a place where you’re stable?” Through this project Oleita is connecting her community in ways that have not been done. This project empowers the community by allowing people to volunteer their services to enhance the lives of those who need it and build diversity and inclusion. “It’s all about having a space for unconditional love and growth within the community.”
The Chip Bag Project has turned into a full-time job very quickly for Oleita. For those out there struggling or questioning the next move to make in life, have faith that everything will get better. Give yourself grace. It’s okay to not have it all together. Everything will get better.” Oleita believes that moving forward in life with the intention to be better could help change the world.
The Chip Bag Project is combatting local plastic waste and providing relief to those in need. Each sleeping bag is made from 150 chip bags and takes four hours to make. All photos are courtesy of Eradajere Oleita.