Ian Soloman-Kawall aka KMT is a Freedom Teacher Guide who uses art [hip-hop] for social awareness and social cohesion. He is Co-Founder of the May Project Gardens which brings communities together to act collectively. Previously he was Project Manager for Pan Intercultural Arts a company using intercultural performance work to help facilitate self-expression and promote a deeper understanding of our changing cultural identities. They work with a diverse range of communities across London and internationally, empowering people to use the arts as a tool for change in their lives.
May Project Gardens was founded in 2007 by Ian Solomon-Kawall and Randy Mayers. Ian spent his youth as a carer for his mum who suffered from mental illness. When she died he wanted to do something positive in her memory and set an example for others facing similar social and economic hardships.
He met Randy, who’d moved from Gambia, with permaculture expertise and missing a connection to nature in the city. Together they transformed the garden at his mum’s council house into the community garden, which is still the heart of MPG today.
MPG now works with urban communities, to address poverty, disempowerment and access to resources and influence. They provide practical, affordable and collective solutions for people to live sustainably and disengage with power structures that don’t serve their interests. Until recently they functioned on a fully voluntary basis, with no formal funding, but grew due to their values.
In 2014, Ian met Zara Rasool, and in 2016 Mona Bani who became Directors. They provided various skills and experience to increase recognition for their innovative and alternative education models. In 2015 they became a Community Interest Company. MPG thrives for an alternative system and lifestyle based on nature, community, permaculture, biodiversity and
Most recently during the Pandemic, May Project Gardens went through a transformation and restructure. Despite this, they’ve remained independent, informal and egalitarian in their values; how they work with people and interact as a team.
Founder Ian now re-creates work by expanding the eco-system with well-being workshops, DJ and MCing, performing, and consulting on environment and ethics.
He has also launched a mentor scheme to provide a six month program for Black, African, Caribbean and Asian employees, providing a pathway for senior management positions for those who are underrepresented in the business. This was done through my training organisation, Bee Rooted Consultancy, and with business partner and mentor Ian Philips from Lush UK.
To awaken the eco-conscience through music, dance, art and collaboration, he has curated Come We Grow events that are an immersive celebration to showcase their creative approach to environmentalism. Acclaimed musicians, DJs, artists and activists come together - featuring performances from artists like Moyah, films, capoeira, speaking and more!
As an artist, he is growing and taking on more responsibility by making social change within the system at Bristol City Council (no1. area for sustainability) as the Climate Change Engagement and Diversity Project Manager doing interactive speaking/ workshops combining his love for nature, sustainability and creativity.
”We use nature, food and creative arts to work with marginalised groups - mostly young people, people of colour and refugees - to create social change. Having genuine care for the people around us and the environment is pivotal to our success.”
- Ian Solomon-Kawall, May Project Gardens