Detroit Knight finalists think outside the box

January 18, 2015

Erin Kelly is looking for a few good men — and women — as long as they cut hair or cut grass. She’s working on a plan for them to work on the same clients: vacant lots in Detroit.

The thirtysomething landscape architect, who works for Detroit Future City, submitted a proposal that is among 126 finalists for the first Knight Cities Challenge, which solicited ideas to make communities better places to live and work. In April, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation will reveal the winners of grants from the 126 finalists announced last week. Detroit had more finalists than any other city.

“I’ve been working on issues related to vacant land in Detroit since I moved here,” said Kelly, a former Detroit Revitalization Fellow who relocated from Olympia, Wash., after the program. “There’s so much you can get out of the haircut. If you want to feel better about yourself, and you can’t afford a new outfit, a new hairdo is more in reach. The riding lawnmower is much larger than clippers but they’re fundamentally doing the same thing.”

Her project, called the Buzz, partners barbers and landscapers to create possible neighborhood patterns.

Detroit Knight finalists think outside the box
Rochelle Riley, January 22, 2015, Detroit Free Press