Development, Giving Back

Neighborhoods Rising Summit: We all need to work for change

What now Detroit?

That’s the obvious question in the face of the dispiriting numbers in the recently released Detroit News/WDIV poll on the feelings of Detroit residents. The numbers are sobering and not good.

Luther Keith at Neighborhoods Day, another ARISE Detroit! event

Many residents feel they are not safe in their neighborhoods. And, perhaps most unsettling, 40 percent of those surveyed said they hoped to leave the city in five years.And what is the message to us, the hundreds of organizations and thousands of people working every day on a litany of social ills, fixing our schools, fighting crime, clearing blight and addressing numerous other problems?

Are these efforts all in vain? Should we just give up and be the last folks on the block to turn out the lights? For those of us who believe, absolutely not. This does not mean we are naïve or foolish.

As I have said before, the history books are not filled with stories with people who gave up. But rather, those who overcame the odds, rose to the challenge and did what others said could not be done.

No, it is not easy. But, I submit, the groundwork has been laid in many ways, in hundreds of efforts across the city, large and small, even as we face the challenges of a diminished police force and other resources.

That’s why it is perhaps more important than ever that we come together as a community in as many ways as we can to redouble our efforts. We must demand more from our leaders – even as we work harder and become more creative and innovative in our search for solutions.

Certainly, all is not doom and gloom. Businesses and people are moving into Detroit, and not just to downtown and midtown. The Detroit News recently ran a story on people moving into the city as well a report on the business revival along the Avenue of Fashion, on Livernois between West McNichols and Eight Mile Road in northwest Detroit. (Detroit Unspun also did a blog on the Avenue of Fashion.)

Neighborhoods Rising Summit 2011

Nevertheless, the third annual ARISE Detroit! Neighborhoods Rising Summit will take on an even greater importance this year when it is held Saturday, Nov. 3, at the downtown Detroit campus of Wayne County Community College District. It’s a whole day of workshops where residents can learn from each other to develop neighborhood strategies to fight crime, develop urban farms and farmer’s markets, clear blight, grow neighborhood businesses, create youth programs and learn about how they can obtain grants for their community projects and more. Last year, the event was attended by more than 300 people.

Every week, at community meetings and events of all kinds, I see people coming together looking for answers and looking for hope. I saw it recently at meetings for the Green Acres Association, on the city’s northern edge, and the Barton McFarlane Association on the city’s west side.

Yesterday, I participated in a fundraising event for Alkebu-lan Village, a magnificent program started by Marvis Cofield 35 years ago, providing basic needs to children and families on the city’s east side.

All three organizations, and there are scores of others like them, are making the stand for a better community.

The knuckleheads will not win! We have a city and a people worth saving.

Let’s get busy.

To register for the summit as a participant, please click here.

Luther Keith is the Executive Director of ARISE Detroit!

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