Land Use & Sustainability: Green Culture Shift Gains Momentum in 2018

December 21, 2018

Detroit may be in the Rustbelt, but there is a movement underway making Motown a “green” city where Detroiters thrive. Detroit Future City [DFC] spent the past year helping this movement gain ground and it’s ready to offer more in the year ahead.

In March, DFC facilitated the Land + Water Works Summit. This event featured local and national leaders to help Detroiters learn more about the benefits of green stormwater infrastructure. More than 300 residents and professionals attended, and four follow-up neighborhood forums were held to spread the word further and collect resident input.

Being a “think-and-do-tank,” DFC worked hard to also ensure implementation projects took place across the city and to help move the needle on sustainability. By making grants and providing technical assistance to ten neighborhood-based groups this year, DFC directly supported the installation of green stormwater infrastructure and vacant lot improvements.

For five grantees, there was a focus to reduce stormwater runoff at their properties, with a goal to also help them qualify for drainage credits. Grantees like Pizza Plex in Southwest Detroit and YAW on the East Side used DFC’s support to plan and install green stormwater improvements. Through this work, DFC helped reduce the amount of rainwater that goes into city sewers, easing the burden on the city’s aging system. In October, a public tour was held to show off these projects, so others could learn how to do similar things in their own spaces.

Another five grantees were grassroots community organizations that DFC funded and provided technical support to in order to transform vacant lots within their neighborhood using lot designs from the Field Guide to Working with Lots. This Field Guide offers 36 professionally planned models for improving vacant residential lots in sustainable ways. It has been used by more than 30 community groups to date and is helping create a more welcoming and greener Detroit.

The 2018 Mini-Grant Winners.

DFC also launched the Lots to Maintain program this year. The program offered support and technical assistance to select grantees from its first round of the Working with Lots Program to improve and implement their maintenance plans – so improved lots would stay green and beautiful for years to come.

In 2019, DFC plans to offer additional grants and support for continued vacant lot transformations using green stormwater infrastructure and the Field Guide. It’s also planning to host an educational series for Detroiters to learn and enhance their skills with best practices for implementing green stormwater projects and a tour of its project sites, in the year ahead.


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