Blog

The Detroit Future City Community Innovation Fund

The Detroit Future City (DFC) Implementation Office is partnering with Impact Detroit and the Kresge Foundation to announce a new project funding opportunity. This process will award grants of up to $15,000 each to approximately four to ten Detroit based organizations to realize planning and/or implementation projects for the summer of 2016.

Grant funding will be distributed under two categories: 1. Community planning; 2. Innovative Capacity Building Activities/Projects.

Click here for more information about DFC’s Community Innovation Fund.

Field Guide Blog

DFC Presents: Lots of Stories, Featuring Ms. Dorothy Baker

This spring, Dorothy Baker, a resident of Detroit’s east side since 1966, will implement DFC’s Four Seasons lot design to accommodate stormwater runoff and allow water to infiltrate back into the soil in the Osborne community.

Click here to read DFC’s Lots of Stories blog, featuring Ms. Dorothy Baker.

Field Guide Blog

DFC Presents: Lots of Stories, Featuring Jeffrey Jones with Bounce Back Detroit

This spring, Bounce Back Detroit, a nonprofit organization that promotes healthy active lifestyles through unique and engaging activities, will combine DFC’s 8 Mile Rain Garden and the Urban Edge lot designs to help manage stormwater, and keep it from running into Detroit’s overloaded storm sewer system.

Click here to read DFC’s Lots of Stories blog, featuring Jeffrey Jones with Bounce Back Detroit.

In the Media

Kresge Foundation awards $1.5 million in grants for Detroit projects

The Kresge Foundation is awarding $1.5 million in grants to projects or planning efforts aimed at improving and revitalizing Detroit neighborhoods.

The Troy-based foundation said Wednesday that the grants are going to 21 nonprofits.

They will fund projects that include repurposing abandoned buildings and vacant lots, rehabilitating parks and teaching high school students about entrepreneurship.

The grants are the second round of the Kresge Innovative Projects: Detroit. It’s a three-year, $5 million initiative.

Nine organizations received grants of $50,000 to $150,000 for projects that have to be completed within a year to 18 months. One project will bring high school and college students together to transform shipping containers into retail space.

A dozen organizations also received up to $25,000 in planning grants.

The nine “shovel-ready” implementation grants include:

Black Family Development Inc., to transform groups of vacant lots in the Osborn neighborhood using Detroit Future City’s “Field Guide to Working with Lots.” The guide includes plans for low-maintenance lawns, maple tree groves, barriers to deter illegal dumping and other landscape improvements.

Click here to read the full article in Crain’s Detroit Business.
Associated Press, March 16, 2015, Crain’s Detroit Business

In the Media

Kresge Foundation Commits $2.2 Million For Detroit Revitalization, Neighborhoods

DETROIT (WWJ) – The Kresge Foundation has approved over $2 million in grants for revitalization efforts throughout Detroit.

Kresge President and CEO Rip Rapson made the announcement Friday, saying 10 grants will fund projects like fighting blight across the city’s neighborhoods.

“Now is the time to advance the recovery of neighborhoods across the city,” Rapson said in a statement. “The revival of neighborhoods is necessarily a basis for revitalization of the city as a whole.”

Grants for planning and development go to four current and potential hubs of activity:

• Eastern Market: In addition to operating support for the Eastern Market Corp., this grant will facilitate the creation of a new community development corporation to spur development in the market district and surrounding neighborhoods. ($550,000, three-year grant)

• The Detroit riverfront: The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy will work with a broad coalition of partners to update plans for the riverfront district from the MacArthur Bridge to the Ambassador Bridge. ($250,000, one-year grant)

• Corktown: The recently formed Corktown Economic Development Corp. will lead planning to establish Michigan Avenue as the main artery of a walkable neighborhood and a regional attraction. Planning will follow the “complete streets” philosophy of safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders regardless of age or ability. ($100,000, two-year grant)

• Southwest Detroit: The Southwest Detroit Business Association will collaborate with the city of Detroit on plans for redevelopment of the Detroit Public Works’ former vehicle maintenance yard at West Vernor and Livernois as a regional economic stimulus. Now blighted and abandoned, the seven-acre site sits near the landing for the new Gordie Howe International Bridge and has been recommended as a potential retail, business incubator and community gathering space. This is also one of four Detroit sites that the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning will exhibit plans for at the 2016 Architecture Biennale in Venice, Italy. ($70,000, one-year grant)

Four additional grants fund organizations bringing innovative new tools to tackle the interwoven challenges of blight, abandonment and neighborhood-level revitalization:

• The Trust for Public Land: This national nonprofit that works to protect parks and open space will launch the Detroit Greenfield Competition, the first of its kind anywhere. Working with the city of Detroit, Detroit Future City and University of Detroit Mercy’s Collaborative Design Center, the Trust for Public Lands will identify several areas that range from largely vacant to vacant.

Click here to read the full article in CBS Detroit.
December, 5, 2016, CBS Detroit

In the Media

Kresge grants to transform vacant lots, buildings

The Kresge Foundation today announced grants totaling $1.5 million to 21 civic groups to undertake revitalization projects in Detroit neighborhoods.

The grants will be used to renovate vacant buildings, convert vacant lots to gardens, introduce high school students to the concepts and practices of entrepreneurship and much more.

The grants are the second round of Kresge Innovative Projects: Detroit. The three-year, $5-million initiative aims to support nonprofit community groups. Nine organizations are receiving grants ranging from $50,000 to $150,000 in this latest round. Kresge also is giving grants of up to $25,000 to 12 organizations to do planning for future work.

“When we launched this initiative in 2014, we hoped to shine a light on positive changes by tapping into the knowledge and creativity of city residents,” said Wendy Lewis Jackson, Kresge Detroit Program deputy director. “Added to the 18 in the first round of the initiative, these 21 projects are building a momentum of change.”

Among the groups receiving these latest grants:

Black Family Development will use its grant to transform vacant lots in the Osborn neighborhood using Detroit Future City’s “Field Guide to Working with Lots.” The guide includes plans for low-maintenance lawns, maple tree groves, barriers to deter illegal dumping and other landscape treatments.

Click here to read the full article in the Detroit Free Press.
John Gallagher, March 15, 2016, Detroit Free Press

Blog

Seed Saturday Detroit

The Detroit Future City (DFC) Implementation Office will participate in the first annual Seed Saturday Detroit –a community seed exchange for gardeners, birders, beekeepers, urban farmers, and individuals who want to build, maintain and enjoy a healthy natural environment in southeast Michigan. This seed exchange and seminar will discuss native plants, butterflies, beekeeping, mulching, perennial gardening, urban farming, land use and garden design within the City of Detroit on Saturday, March 12.

You will receive free seeds, brought by several sources, but please consider bringing some of your favorites to exchange with other attendees.  There will also be prizes, including dinner at Wolfgang Puck and a room for two at the MGM Grand Hotel.

Click here to learn more about Seed Saturday Detroit.

In the Media

Green infrastructure techniques are for properties big and small

A new report by the Environmental Protection Agency – Tools, Strategies and Lessons Learned from EPA Green Infrastructure Technical Assistance Projects – highlights practical solutions for planners, engineers, and citizens to design their communities in ways that improve water quality and conserve water, strengthen the local economy, and enhance community and infrastructure resiliency.

Green infrastructure includes the natural landscapes in and around our communities that, if planned and connected appropriately, create a network of permeable open spaces that can store, absorb, and filter stormwater runoff. Some approaches to green infrastructure planning focus only on connecting forests, parks, river corridors, shorelines, and wetlands within and between urban areas. The new EPA report focuses more on ‘green’ treatments of actual infrastructure – rain gardens, bioswales, green roofs, green streets and parking, etc. Some of these treatments might be referred to as low impact development techniques, instead of green infrastructure, but the goals of both approaches are the same – reduce the amount of stormwater flashing off paved surfaces and carrying contaminants into waterways or threating properties with flooding.

Taking a broader perspective on green infrastructure that also includes individual property redevelopment techniques suggests that all property owners in a community have a role to play in minimizing runoff and making the community more resilient in large rain events. Indeed, for communities in the Midwest “Extreme rainfall events and flooding have increased during the last century, and these trends are expected to continue, causing erosion, declining water quality, and negative impacts on transportation, agriculture, human health, and infrastructure.”

Since public lands make up a relatively small percentage of total property in most communities, private property is key for managing stormwater with green infrastructure. The new EPA report details that local governments have options to 1) require the incorporation of green infrastructure in redevelopment projects through local regulations, 2) incentivize the incorporation of such techniques, and 3) simply provide examples of best practices including sample designs and native plant lists for the region.

The city of Ann Arbor, Michigan requires that any single and two-family residential property owner that wishes to expand the amount of impervious surface by more than 200 square feet incorporate onsite stormwater treatments capable of storing the first inch of runoff during a storm event. There is also an incentive-based stormwater rate in place in the city in which the monthly rate is based on the amount of impermeable surface on site.

In the city of Detroit, an organization developed the Field Guide to Working with Lots consisting of more than 30 example designs for turning portions of one’s property or neighboring vacant lots into green infrastructure capable of improving the ecosystem services of undeveloped property in the city.

Click here to read the full article in Michigan State University Extension

Brad Neumann March 7, 2016, Michigan State University Extension

In the Media

Designing the equitable city: A conversation about the value of local and global exchange

How can design help us build more equitable cities? This conversation between Nina Bianchi, a partner in in the Detroit-based design firm The Work Department, and Graig Donnelly, director of the Detroit Revitalization Fellows program at Wayne State University, highlights the value of local and global exchange, particularly between Detroit and Medellín, Colombia, where Bianchi has been traveling to since 2009 as part of her efforts to develop a network of social impact design leaders across the U.S. and around world.

Graig Donnelly: What does it mean to you to have equitable development, and why is it important today in cities like Detroit and Medellín?

Nina Bianchi: This is the question. All over the world and right here in Detroit, a lot of people and organizations use the term “equitable” without a shared definition of what it means in practice. Does it mean preserving cultural assets? Implementing a certain kind of inclusive process? Or an evidence-based policy with data-driven outcomes like a commitment to X percent of healthy and affordable public housing? Could it increase safety and security by ensuring that residents’ needs are considered a priority?

We are in the midst of significant urban transformation around the world, and I believe that now is the time for cities like Detroit and Medellín to step up and lead a more inclusive conversation. We cannot miss this moment, this opportunity to establish a shared practice of equitable development. A city’s identity is in the hands of those who have access to the processes of making both policy and physical places. Our two cities, with all of their beautiful and shocking and sordid histories, should lead a network of 21st century cities that harness people-centered design power to catalyze a better world.

In his 1962 speech “The Ethical Demands for Integration,” Martin Luther King Jr. defines freedom as the capacity to deliberate or weigh alternatives, the capacity to make decisions, and the taking of responsibility for the decisions made. Let’s take his lead. With residents included in our cities’ decision-making processes, we’ll be off to a great start.

GD: What lessons do you think Medellín’s leaders have to offer Detroit’s leaders? And vice versa?

NB: Good leadership comes in many shapes and sizes, and often it’s from unexpected places. Our challenge is to create more opportunities and resources that make it easier for people to consider their options, make decisions about their future, and stay involved in the implementation. It means connecting leaders who are willing to collaborate with people who are willing to share their needs and ideas.

In Medellín, leaders at the government level have been modeling a new kind of design, planning, and development process with (not for) communities. Deepening my relationships through tours led by resident leaders, I explored from their perspective a range of popular public projects that were developed from the outside in: starting away from the downtown zones and investing in the perimeters of the city where the most vulnerable residents live. One of my favorite examples is the popular escalators in the Comuna no. 13 San Javier neighborhood, one of the lowest income boroughs in the city. The escalators, which people ride free of charge, were built to ease residents’ strain of commuting up and down the mountainside. The project has garnered tremendous attention in the global design community and resulted in new levels of tourism. Residents have taken this opportunity to start small businesses and grow a new type of local economy. We would surely benefit from learning how this type of work can get done, but also about how the needs and desires of local residents are balanced with the influx of new economic forces.


Escalators in Medellin’s Comuna no 13 San Javier neighborhood

I have also had the opportunity to share with Medellín the terrific work our community development leaders in Detroit do to document complex ideas and make big picture strategies more accessible and actionable for ordinary residents. The leaders I met with were inspired by Allied Media Project’s network of creative media makers and technologists, WE Global Network’s Immigrant Policy Playbook, and Detroit Future City’s big collaboration on the Field Guide to Working with Lots.

Click here to read the full article in Model D.
Nina Bianchi & Graig Donnelly, March 1, 2016, Model D