Neighborhoods Summit seeks to bust blight, improve city

November 2, 2014

Ralph Hall likens Detroit’s struggles with blight to the need for dental work.

Blight has “run the city down,” he said today during a break in the fifth annual ARISE Detroit! Neighborhoods Rising Summit.

“(Blight) is like bad teeth … not a good smile,” said the 55-year-old east-side resident. “Detroit needs some good dentists.”

Hall was one of more than 100 people at the Wayne County Community College District’s downtown campus today for the summit and said he would attend a workshop focused on fighting blight.

Before the beginning of a dozen workshops, which focused on everything from entrepreneurship to developing strategies to fight crime, Luther Keith, executive director of ARISE Detroit!, told the crowd that the narrative about Detroit is changing and the national buzz about the city and its neighborhoods has grown. He noted that national media outlets have been in contact with him in recent months about changes in the city.

“That’s all because all of you have created a tremendous buzz about Detroit,” he said, noting that people love a comeback story.

Kenneth Cockrel Jr., former mayor and executive director of Detroit Future City, also spoke to the group, talking about the importance of neighborhoods as well as the plan his organization is working to implement to remake Detroit. The group is promoting a blueprint for the city’s future dealing with everything from green space to transportation.

“Neighborhoods are the fabric that binds our city together,” he said. “Detroit will not move forward unless we have strong neighborhoods here that are thriving.”

Cockrel said his group will be creating a vacant lot transformation guide to show how to maximize the value of vacant lots, turning what have long been considered detrimental to Detroit into assets.

He also answered some questions, noting the value to the city of urban agriculture and farming. Cockrel said the city has a chance to lead in this area.

Neighborhoods Summit seeks to bust blight, improve city
Eric D. Lawrence, November 1, 2014, Detroit Free Press