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Honoring Lindsey East: His Giving is Still Making an Impact
/ July 19, 2017

Children enjoy the Lindsey Robison East Playground at OurHouse, an organization that provides shelter and education for homeless adults and children in Little Rock.

Lindsey East would have celebrated his 50th birthday this summer. In contemplating her son’s untimely death and this missed milestone, Laetitia East muses that Lindsey is “ageless.” We agree. His giving spirit lives on through his dear friends and family and, in part, through the charitable funds he established while he was alive. 

In addition to continuing to support programs like Our House that advocate for Arkansas’ homeless, the East endowments have most recently funded Arkansas Interfaith & Light’s Promise Garden, a collaborative community garden in the 12th Street corridor that encourages fresh local nutritious food, and the Southern Center for Agroecology, a nonprofit that promotes the development of sustainable local food systems through research and applied science.

To honor Lindsey’s legacy and the countless lives he continues to affect, we would like to revisit his Community Foundation story which can be found here:

Even After His Lifetime, Lindsey Robison East's Giving Makes an Impact

“He was always unique in his sensitivity to people and the environment,” said Laetitia East of her son, Lindsey. “He loved the earth and really felt he could make change happen in the world.”

Arkansas Community Foundation came to know Lindsey East in 2003 when he contacted CEO Heather Larkin to inquire about “what we do here.” Born and reared in Little Rock, he had been living in California, exploring the possibilities of his own talents in theatre, writing and music.  He had a playful humor and spoke from his heart, taking genuine interest in personal stories. When he’d see someone he knew, he’d remember some small thing that showed he listened and took an interest in what they had to say.  Lindsey met all people with total acceptance and had friends from all over the world.

When he returned to Arkansas, Lindsey soon became a personal friend to the Community Foundation. In 2004, he started his first endowment at the Community Foundation focusing on food sustainability and bicycle advocacy.  Five years later he began a second endowment to support initiatives for the homeless in Arkansas. Our House, an organization that provides shelter and education for homeless adults and children, dedicated a playground in Lindsey’s name for his support.

On July 9, 2011, Lindsey suffered a heart attack and died while piloting his small plane. But the legacy he established with the Community Foundation lives on. His final gift to the Community Foundation by way of his trust created an endowment promoting greenhouse projects, community gardens, recycling programs and local food initiatives. About two years after Lindsey’s death, the Community Foundation learned that a new food enterprise, the Farm and Food Innovation Center, was being formed at the former St. Joseph’s Home in North Little Rock by one of Lindsey’s old friends, Jody Hardin. With East’s wishes to support local food sustainability projects in mind, the Community Foundation issued a start-up grant from Lindsey’s endowment to the Center.   

Because of Lindsey’s charitable vision and foresight, the dream of the Farm and Food Innovation Center is becoming a reality. Already the Farm and Food Innovation Center has impacted hundreds of Arkansans, who have visited the grounds as volunteers and participants of local, sustainable food education initiatives. In collaboration with Heifer USA, FFIC works to support Delta growers and empower them to become involved in the profitable local organic food market. In addition, twelve community gardening plots have been constructed with the help Eagle Scouts and 90 at-risk youths participating in the National Guard Youth Challenge program who provided community service hours while learning essential skills in organic gardening and farming.

In East’s memory and honor, a permaculture project on the grounds has been named the Lindsey East Food Forest to Feed the Hungry.
“Lindsey would be so proud of this,” said his mother, Laetitia.  “He will be remembered for giving to the things he loved and believed in. Nothing would make him any happier.”

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