Sunday, December 2, 2012

Community Engagement

Community engagement is a huge topic and I will just touch on it. By no means is this all I think about it. Community engagement is the ONLY way for Detroit to come back, to make Detroit as a city the expression of ALL the wonderful people who live here. 

When I was young I witnessed something called the Community Reinvestment Strategy that was done under the Archer administration and never followed through. This set-up was that community groups got together and made plans for their own areas - for land use, for youth, seniors, businesses etc.- then worked with urban planners to figure out how to put it into action.

Here is an example of what they did that is still up on the Planning Department's website. Here is an interesting perspective on the process.

I am not a patient woman when it comes to social change. I realize that people in Detroit are suffering right now as I type this. Suffering from not being heard, from waking up to an empty driveway where there was a car, of staring out their front window at a burned-out wide-open house, worrying about their children's safety. I know, I know...I know this is about RIGHT NOW, not in a little while. 

While the city's finances and public safety are things that don't require too much community input to get them to some sort of normalcy, where Detroit is going does. As soon as is possible in my term, I will call together the community groups in each area. Where there are not community groups (Detroit has sadly lost so many!) we will reach out through parent groups at schools, online and other means to get input and use this as a base to help communities begin new groups. 

I know people are sick and tired. I know it will be hard to get people to believe again, but we have to. Each group will have a template and data ready to go. They will just need to decide what they want for their community and it is the city's job to move forward efficiently, quickly, and economically with the plans. The people of Detroit have been silenced and pushed into despair for far too long.

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