The Land Use + Sustainability Winter Newsletter | Winter 2020

January 27, 2020

The Working with Lots 2020 Grant Program is almost here!

We will be announcing details on our 5th year of grant funding in the next couple of weeks. The request for proposals (RFP) will be released in mid-February and will be open for two months. We welcome all qualified Detroit organizations and residents to submit an RFP to be a part of our 5th cohort of Working with Lots Grantees.

In tandem with our Working with Lots Grant Program, we’ll be offering a workshop series throughout 2020, designed to improve Detroiters’ capacity to successfully install land-based projects. For details on the monthly workshops, scroll down to our Events + Opportunities section, and check out our Events page for updated information.

Look for an e-blast in mid-February announcing the opening of the 2020 Working with Lots Grant Program applications, details on the grant requirements, and more details on our Working with Lots Workshop Series. To make sure you don’t miss out on important dates and program offerings, please follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!

Apply to be a Land + Water WORKS Ambassador

The Land + Water WORKS Coalition (LWWC) is currently seeking neighborhood leaders from across the city to help educate community members on the important environmental issues affecting Detroiters. Since 2018, Land + Water WORKS Ambassadors have reached over 28,000 people; apply to be an ambassador and help us reach 10,000 more residents in 2020!

Land + Water WORKS Ambassadors will be compensated for their time as they provide peer-to-peer education related to land and water stewardship. Our goal is to build a green culture shift that spreads across the city one resident at a time! For more information, view the application:

Detroit Non-profit Organization Application
Detroit Resident Application

Application deadline: 11:59 PM EST, Sunday, February 23rd

A Canton STEM Club Placed 2nd in Michigan’s FIRST LEGO League Competition with their Field Guide-based Lot Design

Last November, we met with a STEM club, C.L.A.W., from a Canton elementary school to learn about a lot design they created based on our Field Guide to Working with Lots. Using STEM principles, the C.L.A.W. team created an innovative concept for land use on vacant lots in Detroit. The STEM club team, consisting of four 4th and 5th-grade girls, was formed to compete in the 2019 FIRST LEGO League (FLL) competition where one of this year’s challenges was to create an innovative solution for a challenge in a local community.

The students were motivated to create an economical lot design that focuses on transforming a vacant lot to help children develop STEM skills and provide a fun and active learning environment. Their lot design includes a figure-eight sensory path for younger kids to improve coordination and motor skills, and numerous hands-on STEM installations including a sun-dial, a periscope, and a pulley arrangement. A gravel pathway offers community members a path through the lot, and lilyturf and other perennials planted around the perimeter helps with stormwater management. Using inexpensive materials like rubber mulch and community volunteers, the team estimates that their lot design can be installed for approximately $5,000.

The C.L.A.W. team believes that this idea would be best implemented on a vacant lot next to a school where children and families can spend time and strengthen community connections. They believe this lot design idea could benefit organizations in Detroit that are involved in redeveloping vacant lots, youth groups, city planners who want to incorporate fun, educational, and natural spaces in their urban environment, and most importantly, the residents who live near a vacant lot.

The team presented their project at the FLL state competition in December and placed second overall! The next step for the team is to find a school, youth group, or organization in Detroit who would be interested in partnering to implement their lot design on a vacant lot. If you’re interested in learning more about this lot design or know a STEM group or school that may be interested in working with C.L.A.W. to bring their idea to life, get in touch with us!

ICYMI: The I-696 Chemical Spill

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) investigated potentially hazardous chemicals discovered at a Detroit property owned by Gary Sayers, who was recently imprisoned for violations of environmental laws at his company, Electro-Plating Services in Madison Heights. EGLE reported that preliminary test results affirm no risk to drinking water, but multiple contaminants in the soil and groundwater surrounding the facility. More tests are being done at locations surrounding the facility and from the highway embankment where the hazardous chemicals were found. Additionally, more than 20,000 gallons of the contaminated liquid has been recovered by sump pumps installed in and near the Madison Heights facility since late December. You can check EGLE’s reporting for continued updates.

Events + Opportunities

Greening of Detroit: Volunteer and Community Outreach Coordinator, effective Tuesday, January 21, 2020, 13000 W McNichols Rd | The Greening of Detroit is seeking a Volunteer + Community Outreach Coordinator who can excite, engage, and partner with corporate and community volunteers on the benefits of trees, native plants, stormwater management. They are accepting applications through Indeed and will begin interviews for qualified candidates immediately for the Spring 2020 planting season.


WWL Workshop Series: Land Acquisition – Thursday, February 13, 2020

WWL Workshop Series: Project Planning & Community Engagement – Thursday, March 5, 2020

WWL Workshop Series: Pruning Trees & Shrubs – Thursday, March 24, 2020

WWL Workshop Series: Grant Writing & Resource Hustle – Thursday, April 2, 2020

WWL Workshop Series: Garden Maintenance – Tuesday, May 18, 2020

WWL Workshop Series: Water Catchment & Irrigation – Thursday, June 4, 2020

WWL Workshop Series: Leveraging Media & Communicating Your Vision – Thursday, July 30, 2020

WWL Workshop Series: Planting Techniques – Tuesday, August 18, 2020

WWL Workshop Series: Bench Building – Thursday, September 17, 2020


Detroit Strategic Framework
Economic Equity Dashboard