NAIMA—Definition: A John Coltrane song, a name, an Arabic word meaning ‘to be content’ and, for Easton, MD, a sense of community.
NAIMA Ventures is a community partnership project created to provide workforce housing in the Jowite, Clay, and Port Street area in Easton. It is headed by Kendrick Daly, son of Derick Daly, founder of BAAM (Building African American Minds). Derick is also serving as Treasurer for this organization, along with Andrew Daly, Vice President, and William Ryan, Secretary.
The 2.5-acre project is located across from the BAAM Center and is currently 14 duplexes that will be torn down to create a 56-unit complex. Daly Gardens, as it will be known, will consist of one, two, and three-bedroom rental apartments with a focus on teachers and health care workers who may not be able to afford to live in Easton.
Daly Gardens is another part of building a vibrant community that is the goal of NAIMA. What first began with BAAM and their partnership with Talbot County Public Schools led to the opening of the BAAM Athletic Center, dedicated to athletics and academics. In 2020, despite the pandemic, the Polaris Village Academy, a tuition-free private school, and the Polaris Village Ministries were launched, further cementing their ‘village of support.’ And it is that support that will partner with NAIMA and offer rent assistance to applicants who are needed in the community.
Says Ryan: “One of the problems that we’ve tried to address is getting teachers of color into the Talbot County School District. It’s well known that if a child of color has two or more teachers of color during their elementary school years, they’re going to do much better. But the problem is, it’s expensive to live here, especially for young teachers to want to choose to come to Talbot County; it’s not affordable.”
There’s another reason for the project, and it goes back to the ‘village concept.’ “It will be a place,” says Derick, “where people want to live and know that they’re part of a community. There is the Athletic Center, a school, the Mount Pisgah Church, that will provide childcare and early childhood education, and a food program.”
“When I grew up,” added Ryan, “we had a neighborhood where everybody knew everybody. It’s way different, and so that’s all we’re trying to do here. We want to create a place where everyone can live safely and know that if something goes wrong with your family, there are other families there that are part of the network.”
NAIMA wants us to know that is not some lofty dream. This is what happened with our athletic center,” said Derick. “People were asking, ‘why are you going out of your way like this,’ and the answer is because what builds kids up is a community.” Ryan agreed. “Derick learned 15 years ago with BAAM that we can help those boys but only if they feel that they’re part of a society that looks out for them.”
The Town of Easton has been supportive, according to the group, as they wait for approvals for the plan. In particular, they’re hoping to see a change in the density rules. Says Kendrick, “There is a shortage of workforce housing in Easton, and by getting more density in one area, we will be able to more than double the number of workforce units and charge less for rent.”
Ultimately, there is an additional goal: NAIMA wants to share their successful model with other developers to show them they can be profitable and responsible in the community.
This video is approximately three minutes in length and was produced by Alana Yzola. For more information about