Recently, a group of artists, entrepreneurs and supporters of the Oklahoma City arts community gathered together at Urban Roots … to discuss Urban Roots.
We had all been at Urban Roots together before at various times, for various events, but on this day we came specifically to show our support for the place we call home. We also came to figure out ways to help Urban Roots continue to thrive as a vital part of the historical Deep Deuce district, an area which has largely experienced the gentrification that has become common in major urban areas all across America.
For those not familiar with gentrification, also known by some as “urban renewal,” it is a process whereby historically urban communities are gradually renovated, modernized and essentially reconfigured, under the noble auspices of enhancing the quality of life in the area. Not only does the brick and mortar landscape take on a much different look, so also do the demographics of the gentrified area. Often that means less minority owned establishments remain when all is said and done, as they become casualties of catapulting costs, and many simply fade into the archives of the minds of those who experienced them, while, unfortunately, completely escaping the consciousness of those who did not.
The Deep Deuce was once a bastion for jazz greats from near and far to come together and ply their collective craft to the delight of many. That era has long since passed as a whole, but there is one bright, shining exception, Urban Roots, valiantly holding down the fort in the midst of other establishments that also appeal to a broad, diverse audience much different than the one that patronized the district long ago. Only a few years old itself, Urban Roots personifies that appeal, serving a vast array of succulent, soul-filled dishes and providing a platform for a steady stream of visual and performing artists as beautifully diverse as the Deuce itself.
Chaya Fletcher, the proprietor of Urban Roots, is as much a part of the Deep Deuce as anyone can claim to be. Though she is still a young woman, Chaya Fletcher is an old soul. Chaya’s grandmother, while pregnant with her mother, waited tables in the same location that Urban Roots currently occupies. Her uncles were jazz musicians who performed there regularly. Chaya is your sister, your auntie, the one who can cook real good, whose house everyone wants to go to for Thanksgiving and after church on Sunday. When Chaya’s establishment appeared on the horizon, it was a sight for sore eyes, a nod to the past as well as a promise for the future. It meant that our rich, beloved history was alive and well, and that the progress of the area would not exclude its most vital organ. Urban Roots is the heart of the Deep Deuce. It is as much of an old soul as Chaya herself.
So on this night, we converged to ensure that our heart continues to beat and our soul doesn’t leave Bricktown. Artists volunteered their talent. Entrepreneurs volunteered their services. Community members volunteered their time. In a tiny room in the back of Urban Roots, a grassroots movement was born, a campaign, #preservingoURroots, that aims to help ensure that future generations have the benefit of partaking in the same Deep Deuce history, beautiful art, great music and quality cuisine we all enjoy today.
You can be a part by visiting http://www.gofundme.com/preservingourroots, learning more about Urban Roots and the #preservingoURroots movement, and supporting this important campaign with your generous gift. You can also help by sharing the link with others, and using the hash tag #preservingoURroots to help spread the word. Let’s go!