Detroit Future City Awards Second Year of Mini-Grants to Help Detroiters Revitalize Vacant Land with Field Guide Tool

January 12, 2017

Detroit – The Detroit Future City (DFC) Implementation Office has awarded 10 Detroit-based community organizations a share of $65,000 in mini-grants to implement lot designs from the DFC Field Guide to Working with Lots. The mini-grant program is in its second year and aims to accelerate vacant land revitalization in Detroit through offering grants to help implement affordable and actionable projects from the Field Guide’s 34 lot designs.

The DFC Field Guide to Working with Lots, released in October of 2015, offers step-by-step instructions, guidance and resources to transform vacant land into a variety of landscapes. The Field Guide includes comprehensive, easy-to-follow directions available online at www.dfc-lots.com and a complimentary, printed workbook available at the DFC Implementation Office. Both offer recommendations on how to assess your lot and choose the best landscape for your needs, wants, skill level and budget.

“The DFC Implementation Office sees the Field Guide’s implementation as an opportunity to bring Detroiters together to build skills and promote equitable land reutilization and neighborhood development,” said Anika Goss-Foster, DFC Implementation Office Executive Director. “This tool provides Detroiters with the instructions and resources to transform vacant land into community assets and improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods.”

The DFC Implementation Office received more than 30 applications from every corner of the city. Applicants ranged from young block clubs to more established community development organizations. This year’s mini-grant awardees are planning to implement lot designs that will transform vacant land into environmentally-sustainable, outdoor space that creates cleaner, safer and more attractive neighborhoods. A maximum of $5,000 of the mini-grant can be utilized toward lot design implementation; the remaining $1,500 must be dedicated toward the maintenance of the lot, programming, and educational material expenses.

“The Southwest Detroit Business Association is going to use the DFC grant to transform a currently vacant lot into an Eco-friendly parking lot,” said Greg Mangan, Real Estate Advocate Southwest Detroit Business Association. “We would like to use this lot as a demonstration to community members and business owners that there is a green way to add parking along the commercial corridors in Southwest Detroit.  Once completed, this lot, with its permeable surface, will help absorb some of the run-off from rainwater that otherwise would go directly into the storm drains causing flooding during heavy periods of rainfall.”

The Working with Lots Mini-Grant program advances the goals of the Detroit Strategic Framework, which articulates a shared vision for Detroit’s future, and recommends specific actions for reaching that future.

To help recipients achieve their visions, grantees will receive technical assistance from two partnering organizations: Keep Growing Detroit, a nonprofit that promotes food sovereignty within the city’s limit and educates and empowers residents around land use, and ioby, a crowdfunding platform for small-scale community projects.

“The O’Hair Park Community Association takes great pride in receiving Detroit Future City’s Working with Lots Mini-Grant to develop a vacant lot in our neighborhood,” said Joyce Daniel, O’Hair Park Community Association Treasurer. “The 8 Mile Rain Garden lot design will help to manage stormwater runoff and will be a model for community members to duplicate as we begin to restore nearly 100 vacant side lots with purpose and beauty.”

The Detroit Future City Implementation Office is funding a diverse range of lot designs across the city, including:

GenesisHOPE Community Development Corporation, which is planning to implement the “Ring Around the Garden” Field Guide design on the East Side of Detroit:
GenesisHOPE is excited to use the mini-grant it was awarded to assist with the creation of an urban agricultural park that will include green stormwater infrastructure and shade for a parking lot that will be graded and repaved to slope toward a rain garden.

Mack Avenue Community Church Community Development Corporation, which is planning to implement the “Friendly Fence” Field Guide design on the East Side of Detroit:
The Mack Avenue Community Church Community Development Corporation will implement a lot design that will spawn a colorful rain garden while also implementing a practical stormwater solution. The lot design is part of the corporation’s plan to revitalize a 13-block stretch of Detroit’s East Side. It will sit adjacent to a 5,000-square-foot property called “The Commons” that will serve as a laundromat, a café and a gathering space for recreation activities, visual arts, storytelling and more.

Manistique Block Club 200-300 Block, which is planning to implement the “Forest Patcher” Field Guide design on the East Side of Detroit:
The Manistique Block Club 200-300 Block is planning to use their funds to implement a lot design that will allow it to beautify and improve the health of an existing woodland. The organization plans to complement its lot design with rain, herb and butterfly gardens, solar panels, a treehouse, wandering paths and wheelchair ramps.

Minock Park Block Association, which is planning to implement the “Ring Around the Garden” lot design on the West Side of Detroit:
The Minock Park Block Association is one of several community groups that is continuing efforts to ensure the greater Grandmont Rosedale area is a leader in vacant land transformation. The association will implement a lot design that is a great choice for anyone looking to increase green infrastructure in the city. Rain gardens capture, hold, and release stormwater gradually back into the soil. The garden will provide a habitat and food for a variety of birds and pollinators.

O’Hair Park Community Association, which is planning to implement the “8 Mile Rain Garden” on the West Side of Detroit:
The O’Hair Park Community Association, which includes roughly a dozen reactivated block clubs, plans to implement a lot design that is one of the best for stormwater management. This rain garden design also prevents standing water from forming. It is designed with plants commonly available at local shops and national chains, and will be complimented by a patio, benches, two raised flower beds and community compost bins. Retired City of Detroit forester, park manager and secondary science teacher Susan Stellar will help lead this design’s implementation. Stellar is a Master Gardener, Master Composter, and a founding member of Keep Growing Detroit.

Southwest Detroit Business Association, which is planning to implement the “Front Parking Partner” in southwest Detroit:
The Southwest Detroit Business Association plans to implement a parking lot design that mitigates flooding by creating paved parking that allows water to infiltrate the ground instead of running quickly off into the street and into Detroit’s sewerage system. SDBA believes this design’s implementation will help transform vacant space along commercial corridors into community assets through beautification and greening. DFC hopes SDBA’s design, which will be complimented by trees, flowers, and other greenery, will serve as a model for beautiful and beneficial parking lots citywide.

A full list of winners is below, and online at www.DetroitFutureCity.com.

Last year, the DFC Implementation Office awarded mini-grants to 15 Detroit grassroots organizations and individuals to implement lot designs that transformed vacant land into green infrastructure, addressed stormwater concerns and activated community spaces. The community organizations that came together to implement lot designs to manage stormwater runoff and to beautify vacant lots in their neighborhoods, include Bounce Back Detroit, North Rosedale Park Civic Association, and Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation.  For more information about last year’s mini-grant awardees’ lot designs, visit https://detroitfuturecity.com/category/field-guide-blog/.

For more information about the Working with Lots Mini-Grant program and its winners, visit https://detroitfuturecity.com/tools/a-field-guide/. Connect with Detroit Future City on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #dfclots.

The Working with Lots Mini-Grant program is funded by The Kresge Foundation, whose mission is to expand opportunities in America’s cities through grant-making and social investing in arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services, and community development in Detroit.

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