Detroit: A City on the Rise: How You Can Help

BY CHRIS ZADOROZNY, Staff Columnist

Detroit is coming back, there’s no doubting that. The past 24 articles have hopefully opened your eyes to that. As Detroit slowly comes back, the renaissance of the city wouldn’t happen if it weren’t for the effort put forth by those behind the scenes, such as volunteers, or those in the spotlight, like Dan Gilbert. You too, can help in different ways, and make the city a better, safer, and fun place to live, work and play again.

Detroit has so much vacant land. Over 30% of the 140 acres that Detroit has, is vacant. That doesn’t include the vacant, and broken down houses, buildings and structures. Many people are speculating what to do with the vacant land, and urban farming and gardening is one of the options. The Greening of Detroit is somewhere you can start.

Greening of Detroit logo (Photo Courtesy of: Eventbrite.com)

The Greening of Detroit is a nonprofit organization that looks to help plant more trees in the city of Detroit and better the ecosystem. It was founded in 1989 by Elizabeth Gordon Sachs. The main reason for founding the organization was a couple of facts.

“Between 1950 and Between 1950 and 1980, around 500,000 trees were lost in Detroit to Dutch elm disease, urban expansion and attrition. During that same time period, economic constraints prohibited the city of Detroit from replacing those trees. With no routine maintenance to support it, our urban forest began a decline that has not yet been halted. In 1989, Detroit, a typical American city, was losing an average of four trees for every one planted.”

Anyone can volunteer their time to help this great organization. Some volunteer as a group, others just alone, trying to make a difference. Every Saturday, the group heads out to a certain neighborhood in Detroit. If you want to help make a difference, visit their website:greeningofdetroit.com or visit their office at 1418 Michigan Ave., a few blocks down from the old Tiger Stadium site, in Corktown.

Another company you can volunteer for is called the D:Hive. No, it’s not a nest for bee’s, it’s a “nest” to help people live and grow in the city of Detroit.

It used to be called Inside Detroit, but once the D:Hive was formed, and took some space in 1253 Woodward Ave. Months later, the D:Hive and Inside Detroit combined to become one big organization. The D:Hive helps residents and non-residents alike with tours around the city, retail, and finding ways to help better the community with BUILD and GROW classes. The purpose of the classes are to work together as a team to come up with ideas, work on projects around the city.

D:Hive in Downtown Detroit (Photo Courtesy of: d-hive.tumblr.com)

If you would like to volunteer, visit their office in Downtown Detroit, or visit their website, d-hive.org. They have a volunteer sign up tab on their home page.

Urban Farming is making a big statement in Detroit. Many people believe that urban farming and gardening will help the city come back to life. Hantz Farms is one example of how urban farming will help the city. It was started in 1998 by the Hantz Group, and they have bought over 200 acres of land from the city in 2011. They plan on installing trees and an urban garden in a neighborhood near their headquarters in Detroit by November of this year.

A company that you can volunteer to help, just like Hantz Farms is the Earthworks Urban Farm. It was started in 1997, and is helped by the Capuchin Soup Kitchen. “Earthworks Urban Farm seeks to build a just, beautiful food system through education, inspiration, and community development. We seek to restore our connection to the environment and community. It is a working study in social justice and in knowing the origin of the food we eat.”

If you want to volunteer to help this urban farm, go to cskdetroit.org and click on the Earthworks Urban Farm tab.

Detroit has a long way to go before becoming a great city again. It needs more citizens, a stable tax base and city government, safe and reputable schools, and of course, businesses. The blight needs to go away, the city needs to shrink, crime needs to stop, and people need to take pride in where they live and how they live. Unemployment will keep the city at bay for awhile until the citizens can once again become the working class.

It’s going to take years unfortunately for the city of Detroit to become a great city, but step by step and person by person, this city is something to take pride in. One person can make a difference, so be that difference, and Detroit will soon, rise again.

To read the original article, go to The Michigan Journal.

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