St. Paul, MN – April 29, 2021 – COVID-19 halted many projects, but Dr. Artika R. Tyner was determined that the dual pandemic of structural racism and COVID-19 would be the spark for social change beginning with the creation of a space for writers, artists, and creatives. With the generous support of Lisa Peck, owner and principal designer of LiLu Interiors, Aya’s Place is now a reality, available for use, and operated and managed by the non-profit organization Tyner founded, Planting People Growing Justice™ Leadership Institute (PPGJLI).
“Our goal is to inspire artists to re-imagine the world they want to live in and help to build it,” said Tyner. “The retreat center is designed for creatives who are passionate about promoting racial justice and healing, allowing artists to pause, reflect and grow.”
The name AYA is pronounced eye-ah, and translates as “fern.” AYA is part of the adinkra visual symbols linked to the former Gyaman kingdom and Ashanti culture. AYA stands for endurance, resourcefulness, and defiance against oppression – an especially appropriate sentiment at this point in history.
Tyner wrote many of her books at writer’s retreats and wanted to provide the same opportunity for others. She also wanted Aya’s Place to reflect her spiritual home of Ghana where she’s been involved in literacy and leadership initiatives.
To reflect her desires, LiLu Interiors used Ghanaian fabric that Tyner purchased in Senchi Ferry as inspiration and went shopping at Francis King Showroom. The company donated four matching chairs with a pattern resembling bamboo. Other companies followed with their own contributions of paint, area rugs, blinds, art framing, and bathroom fixtures. The entire project truly was a community effort made possible through the support of Nicole Alatar at Sherwin-Williams, Charlie Flynn at Francis King Showroom, Brenda Scherping-Westphal at AJ Maison Showroom, Brant McManigle at Southern Lights, Jeffrey Rogness at Contemporary Blind Design, and Hang It Inc.
Tyner didn’t allow the pandemic to deter her from her lifelong goal of making a positive difference in the fight for social justice. She answered the call for justice that rang out in the streets around the globe after the murder of Mr. George Floyd. With Aya’s Place now a reality, it provides a quiet space for writers and artists to utilize their talents to envision and create a world in which social justice prevails.
About Dr. Artika Tyner
Dr. Artika Tyner is the founder of Planting People Growing Justice® Leadership Institute. She’s a passionate educator, author, and advocate for justice. An engaging speaker and dynamic presenter on leadership, civil rights, diversity, and social justice topics, Dr. Tyner has helped audiences and organizations across the globe gain new tools for leading social change. Her goal is to teach, educate and inspire. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.