Over the past few weeks, the unfolding COVID-19 global pandemic has had a dramatic impact on residents, businesses, and organizations in Detroit. Like many others, we at Detroit Future City are complying with public health recommendations and taking steps to do what we can to help slow the spread of the deadly virus.
Although circumstances have forced us to adapt to new challenges, I want to assure you that the vital work of Detroit Future City goes on. It is clear that the current crisis will have a lasting effect on our city. Now, more than ever, we need to rise to the challenge of creating a more resilient, sustainable, and equitable future for all Detroiters.
Our office is currently closed and our staff are all working from their homes, but our work continues. Below is a brief summary of how our programs are adjusting. If you need to reach us for any reason, feel free to email the program leaders listed below. General inquiries can always be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Land Use And Sustainability
In February, DFC opened applications for the fourth year of the Working with Lots grant program. These grants help grass roots community organizations throughout the city transform vacant lots in their communities into gardens, gathering spaces, and other productive open spaces. The deadline for applications has been extended until April 20, 2020 to help more applicants participate in technical assistance calls with DFC staff. Office hours are still required for all applicants, but they will now be done via computer, until April 17, 2020. The Grant Writing + Resource Hustle Workshop scheduled for April 2, 2020 was conducted online and recorded for later distribution.
The DFC-led Land + Water Works Coalition launched the second year of its Land +Water Ambassador Program with a digital orientation on March 19, 2020. The Ambassadors – including 25 residents and 10 non-profit organizations – are enlisted as community educators to promote sustainable land and water use practices to their friends, neighbors and constituents. While social distancing guidelines will delay many community engagement efforts, DFC will move forward with intensive on-line training and coaching to prepare Ambassadors for later outreach activities.
The Detroit Neighborhood Housing Compact will continue its regular meetings, while switching to virtual formats for now. The Compact brings together more than 50 public, private, and non-profit stakeholder organizations to improve single-family housing conditions in Detroit. In April, ongoing research and strategy development around housing renovation, affordable home ownership and rental housing quality will continue.
On March 3rd, DFC partnered with Design Core, Detroit LISC, and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation to host a one-day conference on the topic of Small-Scale Manufacturing. The conference drew attention to the importance of the small-scale manufacturing sector to growing a more equitable and resilient local economy.
Following that event, the team continues to develop the Center, which intends to establish a shared definition of equity and identify equity indicators to track over time. DFC looks forward to furthering this effort with you and your community by our side. We see in-person engagement as a valuable tool in this process and are aiming to reschedule our stakeholder meetings in June. Be sure to join the stakeholder group database to stay abreast of upcoming meeting dates.
The Center continues to work collaboratively (and virtually) with partners to progress the Center’s work. Earlier in March, we had a productive two-day working session with Mass Economics. Together we examined national examples of existing efforts and relevant definitions to inform our work towards formulating a shared definition of economic equity for Detroit and the region. The Center have also been working to leverage its relationship with Connect Detroit to consider various engagement approaches and strategies with different groups to uplift new voices.