Before there were business moguls buying buildings in downtown Detroit …
Before there were national retail chains and restaurants coming back to Detroit …
Before the so-called hipsters and the new creative class started discovering Detroit …
Before claiming to be concerned about the neighborhoods of Detroit became a trend and a feel-good cliché …
Before all of them were …
Olivia Shakoor and the Crary St. Mary’s Community Council
Shirely Burch and the Community United for Progress
Alice Thompson and Black Family Development
Marvis Cofield and Alkebu-lan Viallage
Sandra Cobb and Habitat for Humanity of Detroit
John George and Motor City Blight Busters
and many, many, more …
They, and so many others in neighborhoods all across the city, are the foundation that made Neighborhoods Day a truly amazing day, uniquely Detroit in spirit and accomplishment.
Now, as we are swept up in a wave of Detroit comeback stories, programs to develop neighborhood businesses, housing and more … the 10th annual ARISE Detroit! Neighborhoods Day on Aug. 6 can be appreciated for what it represents and what will continue to be.
It is a day that literally changes Detroit, involving hundreds of organizations and thousands of volunteers.
It is a day for true believers, for people who don’t rely on polls, surveys, headlines or cable talk shows to know – t o have always known – people in our town, the heart and soul, have value, should be loved, appreciated and admired in the face of daunting challenges that would crush the spirits of lesser souls.
So 10 years after the first Neighborhoods Day, on Aug. 4, 2007 when we started with a germ of an idea but a universe of hope, the Shirley Burches, Olivia Shakoors, Marvis Cofields and John Georges can take pride in what they have created along with thousands of other Detroiters.
You should take pride, too. Neighborhoods Day has grown from 55 events in its first year, to more than 250 last year with a cumulative nine-year total of more than 1,400 community improvement projects of all kinds. We’ve had health fairs, concerts, parades, festivals, back to school events, cleanups, beautification projects and more.
We are touching and inspiring people like Shirley Burch, who said: “This is a wonderful day for Detroit. We are planting seeds for getting things done throughout the year. Neighborhoods Day is bringing all kinds of people together to make our city great.”
“Neighborhoods Day gets people to work together in a collective fashion. ARISE Detroit! lets people know they have the capacity to change their condition,” says Malik Yakini, Black Community Food Security Network.
“Neighborhoods Day is an amazing event. It has great impact. It is changing the community,” says Rebecca Willis, Bleeding Heart Design.
“ARISE Detroit! is doing a marvelous job of getting the community involved with one another, businesses, churches, everybody,” says Ronald Cross, Metro Center Church of Christ.
Our goal this year, with the support of Detroiters and all who love our city, is to take Neighborhoods Day to the next level. Our billboard campaign is up on the streets and highways of Detroit.
We are getting the word out to more than 150,000 Detroit residents and supporters through our partnership with The HUB, a collaborative media partnership between TheHUB Magazine and Detroit Unspun (Detroit Regional News Hub).
The ARISE Detroit! Neighborhoods TV show, focusing on groups improving the city, now airs every Monday on WHPR TV, from 7:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., on Comcast Channel 91 in Detroit, or TV 33. You’ll soon see more TV and radio promotions, all aimed at telling the world, and inviting all Detroiters and others, to be part of this Amazing Day.
We are the change and we are rising!
Registration for the 10th annual ARISE Detroit! Neighborhoods Day is now open. Groups and individuals can register at www.arisedetroit.org or phone 313-921-1955. ARISE Detroit! is funded by the Kresge Foundation.
Editor’s Note: Luther Keith is the executive director of ARISE Detroit! and a former editor at the Detroit News.