Lean, Mean and Green film shows how urban heroes are transforming Detroit and other cities into more sustainable communities


We’ve all either seen, read or heard about the scores of documentaries, photographs and news stories detailing what they call the demise of Detroit. Their perceptions are far from the realities of what’s happening in our city. Sure, we’ve got big problems. We also have some big solutions.

Those solutions are the crux of a new documentary coming out called Lean, Mean and Green. It’s based on Detroit Free Press reporter John Gallagher’s book Reimagining Detroit. The documentary, by One of Us Films, premiers September 25 at 7:00 p.m. at the Detroit Film Theatre (also know as the DFT) in the Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Avenue. Admission is FREE.

On location in Germany

On location in Germany

Lean, Mean & Green is a response to the images of Detroit blight that have been seen around the world. It has already been an inspiration to others and validation for the work the people in Detroit and other cities are accomplishing.  Let’s not forget Detroit is not the only city working to re-imagine itself and find a bright and diverse future. It was filmed in Detroit and also features Youngstown, Ohio; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Torino, Italy, and the Ruhr Valley in Western Germany to look at the solutions those cities have created.

“When I read Reimagining Detroit, I wanted to be able to show people the stories John wrote about.  I was tired of the images being broadcast around the world about Detroit when I knew people have been working to transform the city into something different – smaller in population, but cleaner and more sustainable.” said Carrie LeZotte, director of the film and executive producer at One of Us Films.  “Having grown up watching films at the DFT, I couldn’t be more excited about premiering the film there.”

Carrie Lezotte

Carrie LeZotte

In Detroit, the film features:

  • Riet Schumak’s work with the Neighbors Building Brightmoor
  • Malik Yakini and the D-Town Farm
  • Jenenne Whitfield and Tyree Guyton of the Heidelberg Project
  • Gary Wozniak of Recovery Park
  • Roberta Urbani with DTE Energy, among many others

Big Jim London’s work to clean up corner stores in Youngstown, Ohio, is featured as well as Cesar Viveros and the beautiful murals painted by children in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Also included are Renata Spath in the Ruhr Valley in Germany and Mayor Valentino Castellani of Torino, Italy.

Reimagining Detroit“Detroit is the great urban laboratory, because we have more of the issues to deal with than anyplace else, but a lot of places around the world are looking to Detroit because they have their own issues that they need to deal with, and they are hoping we can come up with some answers.” Gallagher said in an interview with Devin Scillian on Flashpoint.

Gallagher has also written a second book, Revolution Detroit.

“Most books and films about Detroit look either to the past – the “how we got here” question – or to the distressed present – the “everything sucks” version of Detroit,” he said in the Free Press. “My interest is the future. It’s the ‘where do we go from here’ story. And there’s quite a story to tell. “Revolution Detroit looks at all the ways smart folks here and elsewhere are working to reinvent these post-industrial cities.”

John Gallagher

John Gallagher

The screening of Lean, Mean and Green will be followed by a question and answer discussion with LeZotte and Gallagher.

General admission tickets are free to the public and doors open at 6:00.

VIP pre-seating is available with a pledge of $25 or by becoming a Lean, Mean or Green Champion on the Kickstarter Campaign being run to support distribution of the film. Pledges include a DVD copy of the film. . For more information contact Ann Slawnik at or call 313-802-6045.

You can follow them on Facebook as well.

All funds for production of the project have come from Michigan-based entities. In addition to the Premiere Sponsorship of the DTE Energy Foundation, production was made possible by grants from The Kellogg Foundation and the Michigan Humanities Council. Bronze level sponsors include the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, The Kresge Foundation, Quicken Loans and Health Alliance Plan of Michigan.

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