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Ashley S. Flintoff Kendra Harrison Michael R. Smith

University of Detroit Mercy Master of Community Development

Community Partners

College Core Block Club University of Detroit Mercy

Academic Advisor

Gloria Albrecht

Advisory Board

Libby Balter Blume Fr. Timothy Hipskind Stephen Gay Gaston Nash III Virginia Stanard Stephen Vogel


Ashley S. Flintoff Kendra Harrison Michael R. Smith

University of Detroit Mercy Master of Community Development

learn from the people; plan with the people; begin with what they have; build on what they know; of the best leaders; when the task is accomplished; the people all remark; we have done it ourselves. lao-tzu tao te ching




















13 23 27 29

35 37 39 45 47 49 51 53

57 59 61 65 67 71 75 81 83 91 95




99 101 103 107 109















123 125 129


Opposite: College Core and Detroit (Sources: Google Earth, Authors)




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[ ]

[ ] [

Conflict and Resolution (Source: Authors)




This book is about reconnecting neighbors through sustainable community development. The neighborhood with which we engaged was College Core, a community centered between two anchoring institutions in Detroit, Michigan. To the east is the University of Detroit Mercy (UDM), and to the west is Marygrove College. To implement sustainable community development, we designed a model based on four pillars of equal importance: changing perceptions, creating connections, developing leadership and organizing action. As graduate students working towards a Master of Community Development at the University of Detroit Mercy, we spent two semesters shaping and testing this model as part of our program’s capstone project. We arrived at the four pillars model approximately ten weeks into working with College Core after an extensive discussion with the community about what the community and we wanted to accomplish. As pictured on the facing page, there was conflict between what we wanted to see as an outcome of our capstone study and what the community wanted from us. Despite this surface conflict, overlapping themes were present. As discussed below, the four pillars model was developed from these themes to build a common ground between our capstone and the community. The Capstone project process can be long and rigorous. We experienced what our advisor Gloria Albrecht assured us was a very common refrain of all community developers: the seemingly direct conflict between what the community developer wants to accomplish and what the community wants from him or her. In this case, we identified three key conflicts, plus one common (and very important) theme. We, as developers, were attempting to be as inclusive and community-driven as possible, and wanted three things: to have the ideas of the community drive the process, to support the development of leadership from within to support self-sufficiency within the community, and to complete a neighborhood assessment so that we had solid data to back up any actionable outcomes. The community wanted three opposite goals, or so it seemed to us. They seemed to want our ideas to help guide their process. They often looked to us for leadership and for the next step they should be taking as a community. And they wanted more immediate action and

THE MASTER OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM The Master of Community Development Program (MCD) was founded in December 2006 (“UDM – Alumni Newsletter”). The program is housed in the School of Architecture at the University of Detroit Mercy. MCD is an interdisciplinary program, which seeks to provide students with both academic work and “real world” experience working within community development. The program is “rooted in service, social justice and sustainability” (“UDM-MCD”). Referred to as the “Three S’s,” each class builds these tenets into their syllabus. MCD approaches community development from a holistic approach by focusing on the HOPE model: Human, Organizational, Physical, and Economic Development. The MCD curriculum includes an introduction to each of the four aspects of the HOPE model, classes that focus on the Three S’s and a selection of electives, which allow each student to concentrate on one or multiple aspects of the HOPE model. The final two semesters of the MCD program are the precapstone and capstone classes. The students entering this phase group together and select a focus for their capstone. The students must find a group or community in which to be a sponsoring partner. Students are fully engaged as community developers through a rigorous process of learning the peaks and pitfalls of working as a team together and with their partner. The final deliverables for the capstone include a presentation and book for the sponsoring group or community and the university. Equally important is the effort to empower a group or community through true community development. Overall the unique design of the MCD program encompassing the HOPE model, the Three S’s and a capstone project leaves each student prepared to enter the field of community development. short-term “wins.” At the time, this conflict seemed insurmountable and left us despondent on how to find a way forward. But the common thread that we



both shared helped shape everything else. Both developer and community wanted to improve the outlook and perception that the neighborhood had of itself, and what others thought of them. This common goal eventually led us to overcome the other three conflicts. All three apparent conflicts were not an “either-or” answer, and were surmounted by the recognition that the answer was “both.” Each viewpoint, of both community and community developer, was valid and the resolution was collaboration to find solutions that incorporated values from both sides. Through the four pillars model we identified through working with College Core, we can contribute our expert knowledge and research without imposing our will on the direction the community should take. To address the aspects of the four pillars that were missing in the community, we formulated the following broad strategies. To change perceptions, we would help to highlight the positive and the potential in the neighborhood. We would help create connections both internally and externally that would be of great importance in strengthening and further stabilizing the nascent College Core Block Club (CCBC). To not burn out the most active members of CCBC, such as block club president Gaston Nash, nor put too much responsibility on a few engaged individuals, we will help to identify and motivate future leaders and help further grow the present ones. Lastly, we would need to help CCBC execute on shortterm and long-term achievable goals in order to demonstrate that real organized action can go hand-in-hand with further and continuous neighborhood assessment. It is our hope that through this manual, any neighborhood or community developer will be able to use the four pillars model to build their own sustainable development plan. During the first few months of our Capstone, we attended as many community meetings as possible to hear the areas of concern from residents and also to see what problems were being addressed so we were not duplicating efforts of other organizations. The list of possible Capstone ideas grew long and, at times, we felt overwhelmed by the amount of work it would take to revitalize a neighborhood. We knew there would never be “one silver bullet” to address College Core’s challenges. We wanted to

THE THREE S’s OF THE MASTER OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM The Master of Community Development program seeks to teach its students the tools of human, organizational, physical, and economic development (“The HOPE Model”) through the lens of service, sustainability, and social justice (“the three S’s”). The three S’s are related and linked ideas that form the foundation of education for MCD students. Service in this context goes beyond the idea of “charity,” defined here as “meet[ing] the immediate needs of those who cannot meet their own needs” (Albrecht). Through service, in meeting immediate needs, the MCD practitioner “honors and seeks the subjugated knowledge of those in need.” The practitioner asks the question “why” in regard to the systemic context that shapes the lives of those in need. Both the practitioner and those in need learn from each other through this process (Albrecht). Sustainability refers to “living so that others, the earth, and future generations of all things can also live.” The concern of sustainability is for all of humanity and their communities and cultures, as well as the physical environment and economic systems and behaviors (Albrecht). Social Justice is “an ideal and a form of analysis that examines the structures (institutions) of a society to determine if their rules, policies, customs, etc., are enhancing the well-being of all individuals and sustaining a good common for all” (Albrecht). It looks at not just the local context of subjugated or oppressed individual, group, or culture, but the larger societal forces, both intended and unintended, that shape or promote these situations. show the neighborhood that we were not just there to talk about helping, but wanted to change the way service was exchanged. Not just getting our hands dirty but do work that will have an impactful message to the

Opposite: Meerkat I Walkshop (Source: Project Meerkat)



McNichols Road W

Marygrove College

LIvernois Avenue

Stoepel Street

Santa Rosa Drive

Monica Street

Prairie Street

San Juan Drive

Lilac Street

Tuller Street

Turner Street

Woodingham Drive

Greenlawn Street

Grove Street

University of Detroit Mercy

Florence Street

Puritan Street

Community Physical Assessment (Sources: Google Earth, Project Meerkat I, Authors)

Occupied Vacant Land Abandoned Vacant Parking Lot

College Core and UDM. Many neighborhoods receive an outside group’s attention for a short amount of time until this group fulfills its selfinterested duty and leaves, having made a day’s contribution. However, the neighborhood is still there and deserves a sustained presence. We strove to make a long-lasting connection past our capstone’s involvement, and to not “abandon” the neighborhood once our capstone was complete. We wanted the neighborhood to stand on their own, but also feel that a partnership existed with the support of students and the University of Detroit Mercy as a whole. Our four pillars model is a recasting of the Three S’s that, properly followed can assist community developers to embody service, sustainability, and social justice in projects. From the very start of our capstone process, we petitioned to continue a previous capstone group’s work for the first time in the MCD program’s history. We felt it was important that the MCD program’s interaction with their capstone neighborhoods be a sustained and serious effort to assist and have long-term collaboration. A single capstone project covering two semesters can be too restrictive and short a timeframe to make a proper assessment, earn the neighborhood’s trust, and truly help effect positive change. As such, our capstone is a very instructive case study on the productivity of a sustained community development effort of over a year and a half, as opposed to the typical eight months other capstones spend in communities. A second group, although it does have to complete its own assessment work, can hit the ground running and “piggyback” on the relationships established by the capstone group preceding it, creating efficiencies in serving a community and working collectively to achieve the community’s objectives and goals. Our capstone group not only wanted to continue a previous capstone’s work, but because we wanted to keep that work “close to home” we strongly considered communities neighboring UDM. We quickly narrowed our selection between two capstones that completed their work in the year prior to our capstone. One group worked with Martin Park to the east of UDM, while the other worked with College Core to the west. Both groups presented to us, and our high-level takeaway was that Martin

Park had a more mature organizational structure and more internal leadership capacity. College Core had only recently established a block club with the assistance of the MCD capstone, called “Project Meerkat,” and seemed more likely to benefit from further outside collaboration and assistance from the MCD program. For these reasons, we chose College Core as our partner neighborhood. When a single capstone group is solely dedicated to a neighborhood, the group must spend much of its first semester deciding on a target neighborhood, establishing rapport, connections, and trust with their designated neighborhood. In addition, another time consuming task is to develop a complete and thorough community assessment from scratch. When a second MCD capstone group can pick up the work of a first, major economies of scale are realized. The second group has already chosen a neighborhood, so the tedious selection process of where to partner is circumvented. The second capstone group also gets a “handoff ” from the first group, where the trust built up by the first group with the neighborhood is, in part, passed on to the second group. This is a very important factor. Several of our group’s “eureka” moments with the neighborhood happened later in the two-semester relationship with College Core, and although “what-if ” retrospectives are often difficult at best, the trust built up between the neighborhood and both capstones over one-and-a-half years was certainly a factor in the outcomes generated. We were also able to draw upon the neighborhood assessment of the first capstone group. Although we did complete our own assessment, we were able to use the first assessment to quickly verify some facts and conclusions. We also used the first assessment as a guide to identify some lesser-investigated issues and fill in the gaps or update conclusions about the neighborhood. The positive outcomes for our group, the neighborhood itself, and the rest of the university significantly outweigh any perceived or real “loss” in process and learning at the commencement of our capstone. College Core was not merely the partner neighborhood or a temporary laboratory for a capstone group. The sustained attention showed that these partnerships have mutual value and new knowledge for



There is Still Work To Do (Source: Authors)

Hopes and Dreams Banner (Source: Project Meerkat I)

College Core, both capstone groups, the MCD program, and UDM. Another advantage of having multiple capstone groups in succession is the continual support given to leadership development in the community. At the beginning of the second capstone, College Core Block Club president Gaston Nash III had a growing network of connections, but only a limited network of potential grants and funding. Expanding our network we continued to introduce Nash to connections with new outside networks, while also leading him to several new sources of potential funding. Today, Nash continues to grow in the leadership and technical skills that will further help drive College Core in the right direction. He deserves much of the credit for his growth as a leader, however both capstone groups played a part as well, with direct support, technical skills, and professional and academic connections. In addition to building a network of resources, Nash gained another intangible benefit via motivational support. For Nash, knowing that he was not the only one invested helped keep the momentum going in what can be a daunting role as president of an emerging block club. Looking back after the conclusion of our capstone, it is difficult to pinpoint or separate the influence each capstone group had in College Core in relation to the actions the community had on itself to affect the rapid improvement of the neighborhood. This publication does not seek to assign individual credit to any of the parties, but it is important to recognize that the sustained partnership between the MCD program and College Core has likely contributed to what the neighborhood is rapidly becoming: an empowered and sustainable neighborhood with a long-term vision and growing participation both internally from the community members and from partners like the University of Detroit Mercy to implement the community’s vision The benefits to the community from the one-and-a-half-year sustained effort are many. Before the first Project Meerkat decided to work in College Core in September 2011, the neighborhood had no block club, no organized leadership, no regular community action, no access to funding, and generally had a very negative attitude about the direction of the neighborhood. Flash-forward to May of 2013 and there are a

took many lessons away from our time within the neighborhood. We strove to be true to the three S’s of the MCD program in a real-world situation. This meant working to be accepted into College Core as trusted partners, and working with them to help achieve their goals and agendas, not our own. The lessons we took away were beneficial and shared amongst our peers in the MCD program. We were a successful test case showing that capstones can build off the work of those before them, instead of trying to reinvent the wheel in the hopes of being unique and original. As we will discuss later, one of our project advisors, Fr. Tim Hipskind, also runs the service learning program at UDM, and his involvement and interaction with our capstone and College Core will help shape the way the program at UDM operates. (For more information about the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats in College Core, refer to the SWOT Analysis in the Appendix on Pages 116-119.)

College Core Block Club Logo (Sources: CCBC, Project Meerkat) plethora of positive changes. Gaston Nash III, a driven and capable leader heads up the College Core Block Club, and he has several lieutenants who are also strongly committed to turning around the neighborhood and the perception of it. This group has located several funding sources going into the future, including potential grants that may offer them tens of thousands of dollars. There are quarterly community cleanups, and the neighborhood now has a diverse signage and wayfinding plan as a result of the design charrette with our capstone group, as well as several signs actually implemented within the neighborhood. The network of connections this group has created with outside organizations is wide and growing rapidly, including several groups at UDM and Marygrove. CCBC has a strategic plan and action steps that will lead them through the next few years. The College Core Block Club did not even have its first meeting until April of 2012, meaning the progress it has made in just thirteen months is remarkable. Growth was not limited to just College Core. Our capstone group





Inset from map above. College Core denoted in red.

The College Core neighborhood self-delineates its boundaries broadly as the nine blocks between Marygrove College and the University of Detroit Mercy (specifically from west to east, the streets of Woodingham, Turner, Tuller, Lilac, San Juan, Prairie, Monica, Santa Rosa, and Stoepel). These blocks are bounded on the west by Greenlawn Street, on the east by Livernois Avenue, on the north by McNichols Road, and on the south by Puritan Avenue. Livernois, McNichols, and Puritan are almost exclusively commercial corridors and are included in this neighborhood study. Greenlawn is served by Marygrove Block Club, the block club immediately to the west of College Core, and is a boundary exclusive of College Core. College Core is the northeast corner of the larger Fitzgerald neighborhood in Detroit, bounded by McNichols to the north, Livernois to the east, Wyoming Street to the west, and Fenkell Street to the south. The U.S. Census Bureau collects its data in discrete census tracts, which generally follow neighborhood boundaries. In the case of College Core, it is part of a slightly larger census tract, tract 5361. This tract includes College Core, as well as the smaller Marygrove Block Club (MBC) to the west and Marygrove College itself. The north, south, and east boundaries are the same (McNichols, Livernois, and Puritan), with the west boundary extending to Wyoming Street. The U.S. census data used in this book is from the 2010 census for all demographic purposes except for economic, in which case the 2011 data was available. Census data cited here will be both for CCBC and MBC. Although Marygrove block club has existed as a formal block club longer and has fewer tax-foreclosed and city-owned housing (Detroit’s North Side, November 2012), it has fewer than twothirds the number of houses as College Core (Detroit: Why Don’t We Own This?). Even though citing data from census tract 5361 gives an incomplete picture of College Core, it is nonetheless helpful in identifying demographics and trends in the CCBC neighborhood. As of the 2010 census, the population of census tract 5361 had dropped to just 3,846 residents (“Census Tract 5361, Wayne County, Michigan”). This is a precipitous drop of 27% in just the last decade; 5,300 residents lived in College Core in 2000. The population of College Core has closely mirrored the larger rise and fall of Detroit’s population


throughout its history, and the decline in the last decade was no different: Detroit’s overall population dropped from 951,270 to 713,777 from 2000 to 2010, a decline of 25%. In fact, the neighborhood has seen a population decline for 40 years, since it peaked at 7,721 residents in 1970, which closely follows Detroit’s overall population decline dating back to 1950 (“Census Tract 5361, Wayne County, Michigan”).

Detroit and College Core Populations 1940-2010 (Data Source: US Census)

Except for the transitional decades of the 1960s and 1970s, College Core has been racially polarized throughout its history. The neighborhood’s racial makeup was almost entirely white through 1960 (99.4% white in 1960). Around this time, racially segregating policies and behaviors across the country, such as selective mortgages, red-lining, and blockbusting (Gordon, 88-111), allowed the white residents of Detroit to move out of the central city into the suburbs, while barring the vast majority of African Americans the same access to the suburbs. The population of College Core followed that of Detroit and rapidly changed to almost exclusively African American. From 1960 to 1970, the white population


dropped over 4,700 people and the African American population jumped from several dozen to 5,481. Another way to view it is that, during the entire decade of the 1960s, on average, more than one white person left and one black person arrived in the neighborhood each and every day for ten years. In 1970 the white population comprised just 27.7% of the neighborhood, and by 1980 just 6.3%. The neighborhood has been almost exclusively African American since 1980, ranging between 93.0 and 96.7% of the total neighborhood populace the last three decades, most recently measuring 95.4% of the population in 2010 (“Census Tract 5361, Wayne County, Michigan”). The age of the neighborhood’s residents has gone through cycles. After its original population boom from 1910-1930, the community aged in place until by 1960 it was almost 20% retirement age (age 60 or over). The massive movement of whites to the suburbs lowered the percent of those of retirement age in the neighborhood to just 6.4% in 1970. Since then, the age 60+ population has steadily increased as a percentage of the local population, and in 2010, it reached 20.5%, surpassing the old peak in 1960. The 2010 youth population (under 18) was 26.3%, meaning almost half the population of the community (46.8%) is not in the peak employment age range of 18-59 (“Census Tract 5361, Wayne County, Michigan”). This is significantly higher than the national average, where 17.3% are under age 18 and 19.0% are age 60 and over (36.3% combined, or over 10% lower non-working age than in College Core).

2011 Unemployment Rates

(Data Source: US Census)

2011 Percent of Households in Poverty

(Data Source: US Census) In 2011, the unemployment rate in the neighborhood was 23.6%, with 1,182 people employed and 366 people out of work (national unemployment was far lower at 10.3%). Detroit’s overall unemployment rate in 2011 was even higher than College Core’s at 29.3%. The neighborhood is far below the national average in household income as well, although slightly above Detroit as a whole. The 2011 median household income in College Core was $28,167, compared to $25,193 overall for Detroit. Both of these are far below the United States median income of $50,502. Unlike elsewhere in Detroit, most people in College Core own a vehicle. Only 3.6% of College Core residents use public transit to go to work, compared to 9.7% of Detroit in general, and 5.0% of U.S. citizens overall (“Census Tract 5361, Wayne County, Michigan”). By measures of poverty, College Core is again far worse than the United States in general. 24.2% of College Core families are living below the poverty line, double the national rate of 11.7% (even more alarmingly, 35.5% of all Detroit residents are below the poverty line). Despite its location between two bastions of higher education, 24.1% percent of people from the neighborhood do not graduate from high school. Only 8.7% of the neighborhood residents go on to complete a four-year college degree. College Core’s lack of educational achievement is worse than that of Detroit overall, where 22.6% of all Detroiters fail to finish high school and 13.0% of all Detroiters earn a four-year college degree. Again, both College Core and Detroit are significantly worse than

2011 Educational Achievement

(Data Source: US Census) the United States overall. 14.1% of U.S. citizens do not finish high school, and 28.5% go on to finish a four-year college degree (“Census Tract 5361, Wayne County, Michigan”). The neighborhood’s housing is almost entirely single-family housing bounded by commercial corridors on three of its borders (north, south, and east). There are a few duplexes scattered throughout (some of them converted from single-family houses), and two larger apartment complexes located kitty-corner from each other at the intersection of Florence and Stoepel. Much of the single-family housing is of sturdier brick construction, most of which has held up well. The wood-siding housing in the neighborhood has not fared as well, and is often in various states of disrepair A remarkable 44% of the housing stock in the neighborhood is still from the original housing boom built before 1940. Including structures built in the 1940s, 64% of the neighborhood’s housing was in place by 1950, and 81% of the housing was built before 1960. No new housing has been built in the neighborhood since the 1980s (“Census Tract 5361, Wayne County, Michigan”). Of the 2089 housing units in 2011, 67.4% are occupied. The


vacancy rate of 32.6% is above Detroit’s vacancy average of 27.3%. Even more alarming is the rapid rise in vacancies. Just 10.4% of housing units were vacant in 2000, but the number of empty properties more than tripled in just a decade. The number of renters compared to owners has been on the rise for five straight decades. In 2011, 50.1% of residents were homeowners while 49.9% were renters, compared to 54.4% owners in 2000 (“Census Tract 5361, Wayne County, Michigan”).

2011 Housing in College Core (2,089 total houses)

(Data Source: US Census)


All Images: Current Housing Stock (Source: Authors)

All Images: Current Housing Stock (Source: Authors)



College Core in the 19th Century (Source: Fitzgerald: Geography of a Revolution by William Bunge)

















College Core Today (Sources: Google Earth, Authors)



How the future of any neighborhood unfolds is inexorably tied to its history and the political, social, economic, and environmental contexts that helped shape it in the present day. As such, understanding the history of College Core is imperative in planning for its future. The history of College Core and the Fitzgerald neighborhood mirror the stories of many other neighborhoods in Detroit. Before French and then British rule, the land was territory for two Native American tribes, the Iroquois and Ojibwa, who were spread out over much of southeast Michigan (Bunge, 7). The first documented whites in the Fitzgerald community were Joseph P. Fletcher and his survey crew in 1816. This survey crew demarcated roads at half-mile increments that mark what are today McNichols Road (Six-mile), Puritan Street (Five-and-a-half mile), and Fenkell Street (Five-mile), as well as present-day Livernois Avenue along their eastern borders (Bunge, 8). The swampy land back then was quickly subdivided into plots. The east side of College Core (east of San Juan) was split between two farming families, while the west side was disputed lands referred to as Reed’s Commons, the ownership of which was never properly resolved. It is directly because of this dispute that the five western streets in College Core stretch one-half mile from McNichols to Puritan without any through streets. The farms on the east side of College Core were later developed into four north-south roads transected by Grove Avenue and Florence Street running east-west. College Core and Fitzgerald were originally part of Greenfield Township, whose primary industries in the latter half of the 19th century were farming and logging (Bunge, 14-15). This began to change when Henry Ford opened his Highland Park plant in 1909 just two miles east of the neighborhood. Even as late as the 1920s, the neighborhood was largely farmland, and was only beginning to convert over to the single-family housing that is predominant today (Detroit, Michigan [map]. 1926). The addition of two higher-learning institutions in the 1920s created anchors that further spurred the growth of the community. The University of Detroit acquired the Horkey farmstead on November 11,

Today the neighborhood’s population is as low as it has been in 80 years and there is a serious risk of this decline continuing for the next decade without stabilization assistance, either internally or externally. With an understanding of the historical context, we began to look more closely at the relationship between UDM and College Core. Utilizing our theory of sustainable community development, we sought to understand how a neighborhood adjacent to two major academic institutions could be struggling with issues of poverty, unemployment, disenfranchisement and a substandard education.

Ford Highland Park Plant (Source: 1921 and added more buildings to the campus in the following decade (Bunge, 48-49). Marygrove College flanked the west side of the College Core neighborhood beginning in 1927. The neighborhood began its rapid growth in the 1930s and 1940s. Single-family housing was built along all nine streets and was settled by a young and almost exclusively white population that aged in place for the next several decades. The neighborhood’s land was occupied at close to 100% capacity by 1951, and was almost exclusively single-family housing (Detroit, Michigan [map]. 1951). As detailed previously in Demographics, the growth of Detroit’s suburbs after World War II was due to various factors such as federal housing policies and racially discriminatory housing practices. This led to a rapid decline in the white population of College Core. By 1970, the population of College Core was at its peak and almost entirely African American. Since then, the continued decline in manufacturing (which began in the 1940s) and the increasing suburbanization of Detroit led to a rapid population loss across the city, including College Core.


College Core White-Black Population 1950-2010 (Data Source: US Census)




Focus Group



Mapping Land Ownership ACTION

Door Knocking


Grant Framework

Anchor Institutions

Strategic Plan

Info / Outcomes

Community Tree

DCDC / Impact Detroit

O.N.E. Programs


UDM How to Communicate

Central Resource Hub

Van Tour

Community Services

Computer Center Community Event

Community Space



Map of Interconnectedness (Source: Authors)

Time Banking Economic Dev. on Edges Physical

Physical Intervention

Parks Blight

Safety Education

Current Projects


Retail Options

Our capstone process was not just about working with College Core. We were working with two neighbors: the University of Detroit Mercy and the College Core Block Club. In the beginning we thought we could seamlessly bring the two together. As community developers, it seemed natural that the university would be invested in the neighborhood and the neighborhood would feel connected to a large anchor institution such as UDM. Once we began to dive deeper into the capstone process we re-evaluated each of their objectives. Since the beginning, College Core Block Club has stated that its three main goals was to improve safety, fix up blighted houses, and create a public space for residents. The University’s mission is, “to provide excellent, student-centered, undergraduate and graduate education in an urban context” (“UDM – Mission and Identity”). Based on these goals and mission, we initially envisioned our project as having two partners, not just one. Both were equally important to the sustainable development of the community. Our first focus was to address the continued interaction and development of the College Core community with the support of our group, representing the MCD program and UDM. Our second focus was concerned with the university itself and how to further integrate the UDM community with College Core. From here we began to test our four pillars model.



Engaging Youth at Maggie Lee’s Community Center (Source: Authors) Throughout Term I, we worked with the College Core Block Club to develop a presence within the neighborhood and began building relationships with key residents and leaders. Reviewing our assessment of the area and conversations with residents, it became clear that the neighborhood was anxious to see a tangible result from the meetings and discussions that had occurred relating to the area’s development – wanting a visible short-term “win” for all that had been put into the capstone efforts since 2011. We felt creating a physical action step, coupled with a strategic plan for the block club, could show the neighborhood that progress was being made towards a sustainable future. Taking into account the time and effort needed to plan and execute a visible action step in the neighborhood, College Core and we decided to

aim for the physical deliverable to be completed sometime in the spring of 2013. Several ideas were cast about as to what this action step could entail. Based on suggestions and conversations with residents, students, and the previous capstone, a street festival or physical installation related to public space was discussed. Opportunities to connect the neighborhood further with groups within the University were noted as a priority for this step. Through connecting the community and the university, relations improved and each moved closer to achieving their goals. This positive forward progress happened several times throughout the year. Our group was critical in making these connections. What we learned was that the university and other organizations wanted to help but were not sure how to help or whom to contact. This is why identifying and helping to develop local leadership is such an important part of the four pillars model. In finding ways to connect UDM to College Core, we examined many other case studies for previous examples of analogous situations. One in particular stood out, the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn). UPenn faced many similar obstacles in the decline of its surrounding neighborhoods and the difficulty in keeping open lines of communication. To repair many years of a strained relationship, UPenn developed a multifaceted approach to invest and uplift the surrounding community. Their main motivator was the same as University of Detroit Mercy’s: safety for the students and to repair blight and quality of life for the whole community including students, staff, faculty and residents. They began a new direction under the name the West Philadelphia Partnership (Rodin, 40). This new direction included adding leaders from neighborhood organizations to the partnership’s board, initiating campaigns to purchase more goods and services from local vendors, and putting an emphasis on hiring more residents. These are the types of things we would encourage UDM to consider: incorporating leaders of the community into their organization, making it inclusive and asking their input when making decisions. This is important because UDM and the College Core neighborhood should be one community. What one does impacts the other. UPenn also had a revitalization plan that started with five

“interrelated fronts” addressing West Philadelphia’s social and economic capacity. These efforts included making the neighborhood clean and safe with a variety of new interventions, stabilizing the housing market, spurring economic development by directing university contracts and purchases to local businesses, encouraging retail development by attracting new shops, restaurants, and cultural venues that were neighborhood-friendly, and improving public schools (Rodin, 44). UPenn did not “announce” their initiatives but rather “rolled them out.” This was intentional so discovery could happen along the way. UDM and College Core block club have been focusing on similar initiatives to improve the overall community, making it more attractive for residents, students, faculty and staff. UPenn also had a separate plan that included multiple programs that were in cooperation with other community partners. First, the “40th Street Action Team,” a “nuts and bolts” group of experts from across the university, was put together. Experts in matters of real estate, police, housing, external relations, and facilities were tasked with making shortterm improvements along the 40th Street corridor, a declining retail area. The team was given 45 days to show an impact could be made. The team would carry out long-term plans as well, working with neighborhood groups and merchants (Rodin, 63). Included in their action plan was “mak[ing] it look like someone cared about the area”, managing the repair of broken and cracked sidewalks, adding bike racks and trash cans, painting the buildings bright cream and installing colorful awnings, advocating and succeeding in getting the city to install pedestrian lights, planting trees, managing new weekend cleanups, and establishing a telephone hotline for suggested improvements. Manual labor, such as these activities, has to be the effort of many different organizations working together. The coordinated effort has to be driven by a larger organization with strong connections to make a visible impact. This is a type of project where the leadership of College Core could manage their neighborhood but the university would have to reach out to other block clubs to coordinate their efforts as well as solicit other groups to “pitch-in”. Lastly a long-term plan was developed by UPenn centered on increasing safety, a main concern for the neighborhood. “UC Brite,”

was rolled out: a plan to repair streetlights and ensure that every house was illuminated from the curb to the door from dusk until dawn on the 4100 block of Pine Street. This project sent a message to the community that the program was organized, engaged in restoring the streets and making it safe for people to walk through the neighborhood. UC Brite started with a $25,000 pilot program, funded by UPenn and four West Philadelphia landlords. The money was used to reimburse residents for half the cost of purchasing and installing specified lighting at the sidewalk level to encourage safe pedestrian access. The cost covered 250 residents within the area and the results were dramatic (Rodin, 64-65). The city also trimmed the trees to reduce shadows. Given Detroit’s storied history of struggling with streetlight improvements, an effort similar to this by UDM could go a long way in building trust with College Core as well as increasing the safety of students, faculty and staff off-campus. The UPenn study is useful because of the parallels in the neighborhoods surrounding UPenn and UDM. Both are in higher-crime neighborhoods of large urban centers, and both universities needed to make choices when crime occurred. In UDM’s case, an insular route was chosen, erecting a fence to protect and wall in students. This fence has influenced the relationship between UDM and the surrounding neighborhoods ever since. UPenn aggressively took the opposite stance, and actively and intentionally developed programming to connect the university to the surrounding neighborhoods. The examples listed here are collective small actions that demonstrate “quick wins” for the community and help restore trust with the university. Small actions that can make a positive impact and are a result of the partnership between College Core and UDM is what the community is waiting to see and can make a huge difference in the perceptions on both sides. UDM does not have the budget nor endowment of UPenn, but the direction UPenn chose to deal with adversity can still inform and help guide UDM’s choices going into the future



University of Detroit Mercy Campus (Source: Authors)

College Core (Source: Authors)

University of Detroit Mercy Campus (Source: Authors)

College Core (Source: Authors)

The University and the Neighborhood (Source: Authors) In addition to our focus on the neighborhood itself, we also wanted to improve the relationship, connections, and communication between College Core and UDM. This involved a study of UDM itself to understand how it viewed the surrounding neighborhoods and its perception of its role and obligations to those neighbors. We interviewed multiple university staff members to understand the obstacles and possibilities for the university to have a stronger presence in the neighborhood. Our interviews started on Jan 22, 2013 with Lawrence Lavender, Director of Business and Finance at UDM Law School and fellow student in the MCD program. Lavender provided more insight into President Garibaldi’s financial goals to increase the future endowment to $85 million from its current level of approximately $10 million. While enrollment has declined in past years, UDM is still financially dependent on tuition at around 90% for operational and other costs (Williams-Mallet). This is a difficult situation for UDM that has led

them to halt funding for retirement plans for their staff as of July 2013. Having an understanding of the university’s financial goals helps to gauge the university priorities and what can be accomplished with additional funding. When making suggestions as to steps the University can take, we need to be cognizant of feasibility and ease of adoption. If solutions are high risk or high cost, the probability of adoption is severely decreased. To further understand the makeup of the student body and the current admission goals, on February 13, 2013 we spoke to Denise Williams-Mallett, then Vice President of Admissions. We did not want to make assumptions as to why enrollment was down and were hoping to discover any previous survey results and data that admissions could provide. We experienced another insightful interview. Williams-Mallett said her role was to sell the university and Detroit to prospective and future students. Much of this happens through media, both intentional and unintentional. The experience or initial impression a student or parent has often plays a significant role in their decision to attend UDM. Williams-Mallett noted that the vision of the gates surrounding the

Lansing-Reilly Hall at University of Detroit Mercy (Source:



campus gave an illusion of both security, and to some, confinement. Given the heavy emphasis on recruitment, Williams-Mallett was realistic about the situation in which she operated, noting that, “Sometimes, the drive up to the campus is not necessarily the best impression to some.” The work that the university does do in the community as well as the potential to do more is something that is particularly attractive to funders and foundations alike. Williams-Mallett said, “Now we have to live up to that. A lot of us talk about [working in the community], but we have to live up to it.” When the university closed off Florence Street in 1984, essentially closing off the campus to the neighborhood, there was a Memorandum of Understanding that stated that the neighborhood would still be able to freely access the services and spaces within the campus (“University working to mend broken relations with community.”). Williams-Mallett noted that many in the community felt that UDM never followed through with their end of the agreement. UDM never sent a signal that what little was available could be shared with the community, which angered and disappointed many. Williams-Mallet felt that this has caused hard feelings to grow within the neighborhood and contributes to the disconnect felt between UDM and its neighbors. There are currently 700 students living on campus with more than one-third of them being athletes. Williams-Mallet estimated that the campus could house 900-950 students without having to make major infrastructure improvements. The University, she noted, encourages students to live on campus or just stays quiet about off-campus options. This is mainly due to concerns about security. She recounted a story about Chinese exchange students who rented a place in the College Core neighborhood but were forced to move after their home was broken into a number of times. The question, she said, is how to raise the level of safety and what UDM can do to contribute to this effort. One of her suggestions was to have UDM Public Safety officers patrol the neighborhood within a one-mile radius of the campus. Evidently, private schools are not allowed to perform police duties or arrests outside of campus. However, Williams-

Mallett felt that UDM can still drive the neighborhood to add a more active presence and show solidarity with the community. Through the process of trying to help develop College Core and also bring awareness to UDM on the importance of working with their neighboring communities, we were able to address larger community issues that impact residents, students, staff and faculty. Viewing our work as having two distinct partners allowed us to use a bottom-up community-driven approach and bring the advantages associated with that to the attention of UDM, while also putting it in a context of how improving the community can be beneficial to UDM as well. The issues of safety, blight and public space impact enrollment at UDM, and higher enrollment means more funding. With more funding the university can be more equipped to support the neighborhoods. This is an approach aimed at improving the community to improve UDM. If the community is safer, cleaner and has more amenities such as public spaces, it will be more attractive to students and will naturally result in higher enrollment. It is mutually beneficial for the university and community for these issues to be addressed.

Opposite: Varsity News Articles 1971-1982 (Source: Varsity News)





The Four Pillars Model (Source: Authors)

The four pillars model we developed through our interactions and relationships with College Core and UDM is an alternate way of viewing the basic tenets of the MCD program. Service, sustainability, and social justice are viewed through relationships with communities, founded on four main points: changing perceptions, creating connections, developing leadership, and organizing action.







































Of the four pillars of our model, changing perceptions was the one shared between our capstone group and College Core Block Club (CCBC) from the beginning. CCBC wanted to change the way the people in the community internally looked at their neighborhood and also the way people on the outside saw their neighborhood. Eventually, this goal helped us build the additional three pillars of our sustainable community development model. At times, changing perceptions can seem impossible because it is more psychological and less tangible. The progress begins (and ends, as it is cyclical) with small actions; occasionally they go unseen in a community where there is so much to be done but these small actions can bring the community together. Once the community comes together for a common goal it learns about one another and its perceptions begin to change. The progress made to improve the neighborhood shows both the residents living in the neighborhood and outsiders that the community cares. The small actions begin to add up and the impact becomes more visible, almost contagious, igniting outside organizations and people to participate because the positive change can be empowering. This is what has happened in College Core. Over the past two years, College Core Block Club has been working diligently to become organized. Growth from a small organization with only a few members who live mainly on Monica Street, to recruiting members from other streets has come as a result of the hard work of their president, Gaston Nash III, and a few committed and dedicated members who regularly attend meetings and events. We learned early in our project from speaking with multiple community leaders that changing perceptions is challenging, but has a major impact on the community. Once people can put their assets into action, their self-perception changes and they begin to develop leadership skills, ultimately shifting the negative neighborhood perception into a positive one. One way to identify a community’s assets is to encourage them to look inward and respond to questions such as what they are good at and what they like about their neighborhood. The images on page 46 are a good example of College Core Block Club member’s responses to these questions, posed at the Holiday


Party, which we will discuss later in this book. Changing perceptions directly influences the other three pillars of the model. For instance, through organized growth CCBC has attracted more positive attention, creating connections for other organizations to assist in their revitalization. During the last community clean-up participants from the nearby Gesu parish, UDM, both capstone groups and multiple neighbors from different streets within College Core participated. The added exposure has allowed CCBC to strengthen their network of people for community involvement in projects. Importantly, the connections that Nash and CCBC have made have resulted in applying for and receiving multiple grants to go towards their goals of improving safety, boarding up houses and creating a public space for the neighborhood.


Conversations with New Business Owners (Source: Authors)

Neighborhood Conversations (Source: Authors)

Van Tour: GSCC (Source: Authors)

An important piece of community development is creating a vehicle for communication by connecting members of the community with each other and with available resources and services. Early on in our process we brainstormed to determine connections that currently existed in College Core as well as connections that could be made between individuals and resources. Creating a network intrinsically starts with this identification of current and potential opportunities to connect. One thing building a network requires are strong leaders. By developing leadership from within the community, natural connections begin to emerge. Leaders are effective when they are able to weave together seemingly disparate ideas or people and find a common ground around which a group can unite and move forward. Effective leaders take ownership of a group, pushing it forward and working tirelessly to build relationships that have the potential to positively affect the perceptions and success of a community. Organizing action cannot occur without a well-built network of connections (and the aforementioned strong leadership). Over and over again, community developers hear the lament that “nothing is happening� or that communities are tired of talk and crave action. Tangible results are often difficult to show over the long and sometimes arduous process of community development. Action requires leadership and organization but, just as importantly, it benefits greatly from a strong network of connections to draw on to provide clear and successful results. Connections assist in acquiring resources, gathering participants and advertising both the action and the results. Changing perceptions also benefits from a connected community. As communities begin to build their networks, identify leaders and organize actions, the perceptions of residents and outsiders begin to change. Connections allow communities to dispel previously held myths and to create a new perception of identity and future goals. The perceptions of uninformed outsiders can change quite dramatically when they learn more about a neighborhood, community, or even city. This learning occurs through creating connections and communicating between those connections.



Charrette (Source: Authors)

Presenting DetroitSOUP Winnings to Maggie Lee (Source: CCBC Facebook Page)

Gaston Nash III Presenting at DetroitSOUP (Source: Authors)

CityYear Cleanup (Source: CCBC Facebook Page)

One of the greatest challenges we encountered in working with College Core was what we perceived as the struggle between encouraging College Core to lead their own way into the future instead of us deciding their direction for them. It was our goal entering the Capstone process that we as the community developers should facilitate the community’s process of choosing their future path, not determining it for them. In theory, we could make the decisions that we as “experts” feel would best serve the community, but unless the community itself directs these decisions and the process through which they came about, there will be little community buy-in or likelihood of project success. If a community is to turn itself around, it naturally needs leadership from within to help guide that process. One of our goals as community developers was to help identify, nurture and empower local community leaders, working with them to gain skills and providing them with connections we may have so that they felt the empowerment of leadership within. As we will discuss in more detail, we coordinated a van tour to other Detroit neighborhoods that were having success in spite of major perceived challenges such as poverty, joblessness, and poor housing conditions. In each of these communities, one key to the neighborhood’s positive growth and turnaround was a local and effective community leader or leaders. These leaders spearheaded projects, motivated other community members and, most basically, had a passion for helping their community become a better place. This underlying principle of developing leadership is not just about developing leadership itself, but is connected to the other three points of our model, all of which work together to bring about sustainable community development. For instance, if a neighborhood has positively changed perceptions, this can lead to new leaders emerging wanting to help continue positive community change. And vice versa, a good leader within the community can tangibly improve the neighborhood for everyone through a sound plan and passionate and positive action. This in turn can further positively change the perception within the neighborhood that, because there is an


effective leader in place, further progress is a real and attainable goal. Good leaders will also create connections within a neighborhood or between neighborhoods or organizations. As a leader seeks out and creates new connections within his/her community, he/she may also find and cultivate new leaders. As these leaders connect with outside organizations or other communities, the connections they forge enhance their leadership abilities or other skills that will be valuable to their neighborhood. Finally, when leaders organize action within their neighborhood, they can create and develop other leaders both through the process of organizing the action itself and by setting a positive example within the community that may help attract new leaders. Effective leaders will always seek to show their community forward progress and improved circumstances, even if the resulting “wins” are small ones – actual tangible positive action within the community is an end goal of any good leader.


College Core Block Club Meeting (Source: Authors)

CityYear Cleanup (Source: CCBC Facebook Page)

Monica Street Cleanup (Source: Authors)

Organizing action is often one of the biggest hurdles faced by community developers. Many communities have been the recipients of numerous studies and well-meaning groups offering help. However, these efforts do not always result in tangible action steps. The challenge for the community developer is how to help turn previous efforts into actions that are both driven by and beneficial to the community. A key to creating action that is visible is to help develop leadership from within the neighborhood or organization. Strong, engaging leaders have the ability to impact participation, which increases the ability of the action to prove successful. Local leaders also have their fingers on the pulse of the community and are able to both organize and gauge the potential effectiveness of an activity. Action is also dependent on creating connections both within the community and with outside resources. The larger and more complex the project, the more required resources. In order for developing neighborhood groups to make the most impact, it helps to be agile and resourceful, which is where connections can be utilized. By building a strong network, neighborhoods can leverage all of the available resources to make their actions more effective. Often one of the biggest results of a successfully organized action is the changing of perceptions. Whether it is the perception of inactivity or complacency by the residents or the larger, outside community, both can be transformed through the completion of a successful action. While not a “silver bullet� solution, the results of an effective action are often that the preconceived ideas about an area or community are affected in a generally positive way. This in turn makes the next positive action easier to accomplish. Positive actions show commitment from the community in a tangible way that is more recognizable to outside parties with little previous knowledge of the community or its issues. Likewise, internal stakeholders often are bolstered by positive action within their community and are willing to increase their involvement. It is often difficult to organize action at the beginning of a relationship between community developer and a neighborhood or community. While the most visible, the action piece is often a late piece


of community development due to complexity, lack of initial access to resources, and a lack of leadership and buy-in from community stakeholders. Action often requires a strong foundation of the other three pillars to be an attainable goal. The benefit of the sustainable community development model is that the integration of any combination of the pillars gives the community developer a toolkit to make organizing action more accessible and achievable on any scale.




College Core Neighborhood Pathway (Source: Authors)

To this point, we have described our model, how it came about, and the background research and history of College Core. The following pages will document the action steps the community and we undertook and how these steps informed the four pillars model as it developed.



College Core Neighbors Building Brightmoor

Georgia Street Community Collective

Detroit Future City Homebase

TAP Gallery

The evolution of our van tour from inception to implementation was a winding process with the final “deliverable” significantly different and much improved from our original concept. The original idea for the van tour was brainstormed in conversation with advisor Gloria Albrecht in early October 2012. The beginning concept was a type of immersion program; we would drive the leaders of the College Core Block Club neighborhood to other parts of Detroit to demonstrate that other distressed and underrepresented neighborhoods were nonetheless effecting positive change and improving the lives of those in their communities. The final van tour accomplished this essential goal, although with added improvements and lessons in community development. Earlier conversations with Project Meerkat had made it clear that engaging the community in the winter months was a difficult task, and so we pushed implementing the tour ahead of some more basic needs assessment tasks that could be accomplished in the colder winter months. The van tour date of November 3, 2012 was decided upon as an agreeable, if aggressive, date for both the CCBC and our group. The stops included the following locations. Georgia Street Community Collective had high unemployment and vacant land but had built a community garden and community center to engage the neighborhood youth. Brightmoor was selected because it was gaining national attention for their re-use of vacant and blighted land through urban gardening and paths. The Alley Project (TAP), in Southwest Detroit, focuses on giving neighborhood youth an alternative to gangs through aerosol art (commonly called graffiti art) and other local programming. Routes between neighborhoods were mapped entirely on city roads; highways were avoided in an effort to highlight different parts of the city. All four stops featured a leader in the community. This leader toured the group around the focus area and discussed what the community had accomplished and how they accomplished it. Each stop’s speaker was specifically asked to concentrate on discussing the history and timeframe of the neighborhood’s resurgence, the local assets that were identified and utilized, and any collaboration with other groups or institutions that may

have helped the neighborhood move forward. We invited allied organizations and neighborhoods affiliated with College Core to join the tour to offer the same exposure we were offering College Core and to further improve the connections that already existed between the groups. This was a lesson in community organizing as, despite offering numerous and repeated invitations, the turnout rate of both College Core residents and other groups was limited. Father Timothy Hipskind and his service learning graduate assistant Fatima Muhammad represented UDM; Lola Holton represented Fitzgerald Community Council; and Gaston Nash III and a neighborhood resident, Rose Spann, represented College Core.

Opposite: Van Tour Stops (Source: Google Earth, Authors)

Van Tour Participants (Source: Authors)



All Images: Georgia Street Community Collective (Source: Authors)

The first stop of the tour was the Georgia Street Community Collective, on Detroit’s east side. Founder and Executive Director Mark Covington began the project in 2008, while unemployed, as an effort to clean up a trash-strewn neighborhood lot. Several neighborhood youths spontaneously joined the cleanup effort the first day and the effort quickly grew from there. Inspired by the buy-in by the neighborhood, Covington expanded the project by creating a community garden to educate the volunteers and opening a small community center, computer lab, library, and five gardens, including an orchard. Through efforts locally and the integration of social media, Covington has developed different funding avenues, such as receiving backpack donations from across the world and computer donations from Microsoft. Even with several unexpected collaborations and benefactors, Covington still encounters challenges, such as trying to work in partnership with the local school. He has asked the school for a curriculum so he can help with after-school tutoring but still finds they are very untrusting of his efforts, refusing to share such information. Takeaways • Changing Perceptions: the community has taken an area with a lot of vacant land and used it as an asset; strong use of social media has created unique opportunities for Georgia Street to visually showcase their projects. • Creating Connections: the network of financing and support extends around the world; partners locally with many organizations, especially Detroit’s urban farming community; engages the community youth utilizing a wide variety of methods. • Developing Leadership: Covington himself has grown into a strong community leader and is now recognized by other organizations across the city for his work; local youths are empowered to assist in the future progress of the Collective. • Organizing Action: The foundations of the organization are a direct result of the actions of just one man; small incremental “wins” for the community have helped spur future progress.



All Images: Georgia Street Community Collective (Source: Authors)

All Images: Georgia Street Community Collective (Source: Authors)



All Images: Detroit Future City Homebase (Source: Authors)

After the Georgia Street Community Collective, the tour stopped for a pizza lunch at the Detroit Works Project Long-Term Planning offices. Now called Detroit Future City, the Detroit Works Project was originally conceived by the Kresge Foundation and the administration of Mayor Bing as a way to “right-size” the city – move residents from lowdensity areas to higher-density areas in an effort to streamline and focus infrastructure and city services. This resulted in a huge public outcry and backlash against the project, at which point it was put on hiatus for “retooling” (Clark). Upon its return, the Detroit Works Project was split into two groups. Detroit Works Short-Term Planning is now a city-run operation that focuses on delivering directed services and attention to specific target “test” neighborhoods. The Detroit Future City (DFC) group, then called Detroit Works Project Long-Term Planning, has little communication and connection with the Short-Term group despite their originally shared name (Clark). Co-directed by the Detroit Collaborative Design Center (DCDC), the civic engagement component of DFC has attempted to map a “shared vision” of Detroit’s future by consulting with residents, businesses, experts, and other city stakeholders. The ongoing results of the project were on display in the office in which we visited. Employee and UDM student Corissa Leveille kindly came in on a Saturday to speak to us about the project and answer any questions the group may have had. Detroit Future City’s larger vision and takeaways proved difficult for some members of the tour to apply on a more local scale in the College Core neighborhood. Detroit Future City consulted with and built its vision for a future Detroit through as many stakeholders as possible, but in the end the output of the effort is still primarily a strategic land-use map for the future of Detroit. Very few of the conclusions reached by DFC are within the reach of implementation by a single block club.

Takeaways • Changing Perceptions: there are large efforts locally in the city to change the city and its perceptions. Although College Core may feel isolated at times, they are not alone in their desire to see their neighborhood change for the better. • Creating Connections: Detroit Future City’s network is broad and its reach significant. Connecting College Core to this effort can help with contacts it may need in the future. • Developing Leadership: Detroit Future City served as a good example to local leaders about what one organized and thorough planning effort looks like. • Organizing Action: Detroit Future City was a planning effort, but even the effort itself required a very high number of small actionable items to implement. In turn, the results of DFC will hopefully lead to further action. These are good examples to College Core of how smaller successful actions can lead to larger ones down the road.



All Images: The Alley Project (Source: Authors)

From here, the van tour moved to the Springwells neighborhood in Southwest Detroit to see The Alley Project (TAP). TAP’s activities are specifically geared to the interests of local youth, providing these youth with legal spaces to express their creativity in a positive and affirming way, such as through collaborative graffiti art on alley garages and building low-rider cars. Erik Howard, founder of TAP and a graduate of the MCD program, spoke at length to the tour about creating and recognizing assets. One point that most resonated with the tour included understanding just what an asset is within a community. Assets to a community are everywhere, far more prevalent than common perception would have one believe. Even in underrepresented and distressed neighborhoods, residents are strong assets. Surviving day-to-day and finding ways to care for oneself and one’s family requires an incredible number of skills. Directed outward towards the community, these skills can be the foundation for growth and improvement in any neighborhood. Another key point Howard made was voicing his support for the strength of smaller groups in spearheading projects. Having largescale community buy-in and participation is always a goal, but until that happens a small leadership group has its own strengths. It can quickly make strategic decisions about which direction to move to improve a neighborhood. Additionally, smaller groups can make adjustments on the fly and adapt to any unexpected events or adverse conditions in the neighborhood. Both of these points resonated because of their applicability to the College Core neighborhood. Reinforced again was the point that the strong leadership of one person can lead to significant improvements in his community.

Takeaways • Changing Perceptions: TAP began in an area of just a few blocks, far smaller than College Core. It gave the youth of the neighborhood alternatives to gangs through similar but constructive social activities. Assets go far beyond the basic physical space, retail, or services of the community; the families in the neighborhood, with their varied backgrounds and stories, are among a community’s greatest assets. • Creating Connections: Connections were forged in the neighborhood through friends and existing networks. • Developing Leadership: As with Georgia Street, a strong local leader can have a large influence on the direction of a community in the right situation. TAP was also very effective in empowering youth within the community and developing future leadership. • Organizing Action: Projects and activities should be shaped around the context of the neighborhood; TAP reframed aerosol art and low-riding projects into positive activities for the community.



All Images: The Alley Project (Source: Authors)

All Images: The Alley Project (Source: Authors)



All Images: Brightmoor (Source: Authors)

All Images: Brightmoor (Source: Authors)


The tour’s final stop was in Brightmoor. On the way there, Fr. Hipskind remarked within the van that one thing the tour had taught him was that his service learning students should be asking the communities in which they worked how they should be helping, instead of offering the community services that the service learning group felt were needed. In this, the van tour itself had affected a positive change in UDM’s service learning program. This was a good lesson for us going forward. Our reach as MCD students was further than we had anticipated; in our own small way we were influencing university policy which would inform the direction and scope of our final project. Once in Brightmoor, the van tour met doctoral student Leah Wiste who was doing on-the-ground studies in Brightmoor as part of her thesis working with Neighbors Building Brightmoor (NBB). Begun in 2006 by Riet Schumack, NBB uses youth gardening as a way to “fight blight, drug trafficking, and prostitution” as well as “provide a healthy space for local children.” Since its inception, NBB has expanded into a community-wide effort to secure blighted and vacant property, create small gardens and pocket parks throughout the community, and build youth and adult programming throughout the year (“History – Neighbors Building Brightmoor”). One of the larger takeaways both College Core and our Capstone group had was a creative solution to sharing messages between all residents. The idea was to use the side of a blighted house as a chalkboard sign. Our group first learned of the idea of using chalkboard signs through the work of Candy Chang, an artist who specializes in works of civic interaction and community engagement (“Candy Chang”). The idea resonated because the signs were creative, had proven effective for fostering communication and it was an idea that we all continued to discuss through the next few months. Everyone felt similar installations were possible throughout the College Core neighborhood. The remainder of the Brightmoor tour showed the positive results of NBB’s efforts and there were quite a few residents in action along the way. However, aside from the chalkboard house, the Brightmoor tour did not resonate with the College Core members. Unlike College Core,


Brightmoor has a large amount of open space and blighted houses. For all of College Core’s issues, they still have a high density of housing stock. Additionally, although Brightmoor is largely an African American population (Flintoff, Peters, and Smith, 17), everyone we encountered in action was white and often a newer, transplanted resident. What appeared to be a lack of inclusivity could be changed with persistent outreach to all residents. When we approached the different groups boarding up blighted houses and working in the community gardens there was no indication that they had used such traditional outreach. The general perception these residents shared with the group from our interactions was of individualism. We did not see the four pillars in action in Brightmoor. This could ultimately lead to temporary forward progress and short-term unsustainable community development. Even so, Brightmoor was yet another example of a distressed neighborhood with limited assets and resources being rebuilt and making positive changes not just physically in the neighborhood itself, but in the outside perception of the neighborhood. Brightmoor also reaffirmed one of the key assets seen in both GSCC and TAP: the importance of strong leadership. In all three neighborhoods, a strong leader had a positive influence, one that was obvious even during our brief van tour.

Opposite: Brightmoor Chalk Board House (Source: Authors)


Takeaways • Changing Perceptions: Brightmoor is a community with a lot of activity and obvious change to visitors, despite the obstacles of joblessness and blighted and vacant land. • Creating Connections: Community gardens, pocket parks, and creative use of blighted housing foster communal meeting spaces throughout the neighborhood. • Developing Leadership: Riet Schumack, founder of NBB is yet another example of a single local leader whose passion has been a key factor in driving a community’s resurgence. Youth are empowered and given recreational alternatives through gardening and its surrounding food chain mechanisms. • Organizing Action: Community youth and outside organizations and schools are brought to work together through NBB on a variety of projects small and large throughout Brightmoor.


Holiday Party (Source: Authors)

Bring a Dish Share a Meal Build a Community Join the College Core Block Club and Project Meerkat 2 to celebrate the Season and YOUR Community! Date: Friday, Frida December 14th Location: Maggie Lee’s Community Center Basement Gathering Space 7700 Puritan Street Time: 6:00pm to 8:30pm RSVP: or 313.454.1593 Bring a Neighbor, Meet a Neighbor!

Holiday Party Invitiation (Source: Authors) Holiday Party (Source: Authors)

After the Van Tour we felt that a community event would be a good way to keep the momentum going while CCBC was on hiatus until the spring. It was crucial to our Capstone project to strengthen our relationship with our community partner and get to know as many people in the neighborhood as possible. In hindsight, we would have approached the planning of this party differently. This event was early on in our project and even as community developers we saw ourselves falling into old patterns of planning something for the community that we thought would bring all of us together: residents, the community center and our group. In retrospect, we should have worked alongside the College Core Block Club to assist in the planning of an event of their choice. Perhaps that would have meant waiting until the spring instead of us pushing to continue the momentum of our Capstone project. The College Core Block Club was supportive of us planning the party, but proper community development would involve us working together to enact College Core’s vision. Our capstone group spearheaded the holiday party just five weeks in advance. We set the date for Friday, December 14, 2012 and began to look for a venue to host the party. We had mapped out Maggie Lee’s Community Center as part of our physical assessment of the neighborhood, but we did not know much about the center at the time. We met with Maggie Lee Williams-Hinton who had developed the community center in a former bank building located on Puritan Ave and Turner Street. She was happy to have an opportunity to connect with the neighborhood. Many of the youth who attended the community center were from other adjoining neighborhoods, so fostering connections between the center and CCBC was mutually beneficial. Hinton asked us to come by her center so we could learn about the programming. On multiple visits we witnessed incidents that many non-profits have to deal with on a regular basis. On one visit, the electricity went out overnight resulting in a loss of all their refrigerated food. On the second visit their karate instructor had a heart-attack and left in an ambulance. While all of these events may seem overwhelming, it was a lesson for us in community organizing. Many community


organizations run on limited resources and volunteers. The people who lead these organizations must learn how to be flexible, resourceful, and understanding. To experience these obstacles first-hand while planning a community event allowed us to appreciate the amount of work required while working in an underserved community. The next step in planning was creating an invite list. It was decided that instead of being a holiday party just for affiliated CCBC members, the invite would be open to everyone in the neighborhood. This tied in well with our midterm conclusions that the neighborhood needed to focus on a multi-tiered and integrated approach targeting the four pillars: changing perceptions, creating connections, developing leadership, and organizing action. Due to a lack of a central meeting place and no easy way to communicate with all residents, we chose to communicate the party the old-fashioned way: by flyering the entire neighborhood. The flyer was simple, encouraging attendees to “Bring a Dish; Share a Meal; Build a Community,” and was co-sponsored by the CCBC and Project Meerkat. As we later learned, our efforts may have been more effective had we mentioned our capstone group simply as the University of Detroit Mercy instead of as Project Meerkat. Flyering the nine blocks of College Core took 15 hours of labor. Our capstone group with three people could cover a block in 20 minutes if we did not speak with anyone. However, we found ourselves stopping to talk with residents often to discuss the community or explain the purpose of the holiday party. All told, we handed out almost 700 flyers within one to two weeks of the event, with an expectation that we would get 20 to 30 people to attend. While talking to residents we discovered it was easier to have a mutually engaging conversation if we had something specific to discuss. In our experience, it was easier to engage with residents if we were sharing the details of a fun community event as opposed to general questions about their neighborhood. In total fourteen people came to the holiday party. Ten of the fourteen attendees were already CCBC members. Without a series of follow-up emails or phone calls to confirm their attendance, the large


All Images: Holiday Party (Source: Authors)

number of current members shows the effectiveness of the CCBC name and burgeoning brand. The opposite is true for those residents of the community who did not yet have ties with CCBC. Just four of the attendees were new, for an effective response rate below 1% for those unaffiliated with CCBC. We were less surprised with this result (we had only expected to get 10-15 new people out of flyering) and more surprised and impressed with the turnout of CCBC members without any additional follow-up. We encouraged people to get to know one another through games. The first was a simple 3x3 square with nine questions. Each person was given this sheet, and had to find someone in the room who fit the questions and get that person to sign his or her name. Each signature was worth one raffle ticket. The descriptions we used were meant to be neighborhoodoriented: • Someone who moved here within the last 12 months. • Someone who was born in the neighborhood. • Someone who attended Fitzgerald-Bethune Elementary. • Someone who has helped with a community cleanup. • Someone who has been to a College Core Block Club meeting. • Someone who is at this community center for the first time. • Someone who has lived in the neighborhood for 15 or more years. • Someone who lives on Monica St. • Someone who has eaten Lucki’s Cheesecake (on McNichols). In addition to the questions, we hung three large posters on the wall and encouraged residents to write their thoughts on the posters. Each resident who wrote their thoughts on a poster was given another raffle ticket for a drawing. These posters were a small attempt to asset-map the residents and their neighborhood, as well as look for potential action plan themes that the community identified for itself. The posters asked: • “If I could improve one thing in my neighborhood, it would be...” • “The one thing I’m really good at is...” • “The thing I like most about my neighborhood is...”


The residents were very engaged in the two exercises, getting to


All Images: Holiday Party (Source: Authors)

know their neighbors and overall enjoying a Friday night together in a positive environment. At the end of the event, Ms. Williams-Hinton stood up and spoke to the residents. She spoke about how she was happy to have the residents in the community center, together and sharing. The community center was not hers alone, it was for everyone and she was disappointed that she had not seen any of their faces prior to the holiday party. Williams-Hinton mentioned that she needs help and how the community and the children need to be supported. The success of the community center and the youth requires a collective effort and she would be happy to open the center for CCBC to hold their meetings there. She was happy to allow us to host the party, and she would welcome anyone who wanted to use her facility to host positive community events. We found her words to be a strong example of how the two groups should not be disparate, but should work closely together for the good of the community. Creating connections was a positive outcome of hosting the event at the center and continued collaboration with the community center in the future would benefit College Core, the community center, and the youth served. We offered to help Williams-Hinton make more connections with the university and agreed to pass her information along to Fr. Hipskind, Director of Service Learning, for future connections and relationships.


Takeaways • Changing Perceptions: The use of asset maps allows the neighborhood to see collectively that the strongest assets come from the skills of the residents. Our capstone learned to always work with the community, not just for the community. • Creating Connections: A party or event is a good way to get the community to interact. It is also a recruiting tool for the Block Club. It is important to utilize existing assets to build relationships. Do not make assumptions that these relationships already exist just because a resource exists. • Developing Leadership: To coordinate a party or event requires coordination and when planning, it is a good tool to develop leadership. When planning an event it is important to note who is standing up to play a key role. • Organizing Action: Pre-planned interaction with activities can draw out action planning and assist in organizing next steps for action opportunities.


All Images: MLK Day Board-Up (Source: Gaston Nash III)

Following a break over the winter holidays, CCBC was not scheduled to meet again until March, 2013. Nash notified us, however, that as a part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on January 21, 2013, a group of students from UDM would be working with him and the block club to board up houses. Members of our group quickly volunteered to assist and noted that advance notice of such events would allow CCBC to get other organizations and groups involved with proper planning. For the event, we worked with the UDM chapter of the Phi Kappa Theta fraternity to board up three houses on Monica Street. A large group of fraternity brothers turned up to assist. While the only community member was Nash, we were inspired by the student involvement and by the conversations with neighbors as we were working. Many expressed interest and thanks in the efforts we were making to help in their neighborhood. Even more encouraging than the number of brothers who turned out on a frigid day was their request to be notified of other opportunities to help with revitalizing the neighborhood. Overall, it was yet another example of the small connections being made between the university and College Core that can lead to larger examples of true social change.

Takeaways • Changing Perceptions: Through service learning, students gain new perspective of areas they may not frequent normally. Additionally, working with residents of College Core allows UDM students to humanize and better understand the struggles and assets of the neighborhood. • Creating Connections: Interaction with a variety of student groups grows the neighborhood’s network for future projects and actions. • Developing Leadership: Student leaders working side by side with community leaders can provide more opportunities for learning, sharing and collaborating. • Organizing Action: The tangible result, three boarded up houses, benefits the neighborhood through increased safety as well as improving the perception that nobody who lives in or near the neighborhood cares. Through action, neighbors are building relationships with one another and showing that there are many who care and want to increase safety.



Charrette Precedent Studies (Sources L-R:, Jeff Maniaci, march2010/DSC_3763, Bernadette King,,, http://cnd.trendhunterstatic. com/thumbs/split-bathhouse,,

A focus on connecting different departments within the university and between UDM and the neighborhood tied directly into what led to an action plan and a tangible deliverable for our project. This culminated in wayfinding and communication signage sought after by the neighborhood. The process of flyering for the holiday party showed us just how difficult it was to connect with the residents in the College Core community. The neighborhood had expressed a desire for better branding and signage several times during Term I. During an intense and productive brainstorming session with Nash in January 2013, a communication idea began to take shape. Influenced in part by the Term I Van Tour, we felt a sign inspired by the Brightmoor chalkboard house, which worked as a community message board and as branding, could accomplish several neighborhood goals at once: branding, wayfinding, and communication. To accomplish a similar communication plan a design charrette was proposed. This would help to create the specific design elements of the signs, and would involve collaboration between the neighborhood and university. This charrette would also begin to utilize the MCD program as a conduit to engage other university students, staff, and departments in service learning within the neighborhood in a way in which community and university would work hand-in-hand to implement the community’s vision. A process was envisioned wherein residents would work with students from the School of Architecture to create suggestions for a system of wayfinding and communication for the neighborhood. As the event neared, one of our advisors, Professor Virginia Stanard, suggested we speak with Rebecca Willis, a recent Masters of Architecture graduate and resident of Detroit. We spoke with Ms. Willis on February 28, 2013 at the School of Architecture. She spoke about her thesis project and subsequently about the nonprofit organization she had created as a result called Bleeding Heart Design. As part of her thesis, Willis created a number of design installations in her neighborhood, including the painting of a house at risk for demolition. Willis’ goal was to incite discussion and interaction with her installations. She did not feel the project was as effective as it


The term charrette originated at the École des Beaux Artes in Paris, France (“NCI Charrette System”) and refers to a “rapid, intensive and creative work session” (Reed). The process is intended to result in a collaborative solution to a particular problem. Charrettes are common in the architecture and design fields. They are also quickly becoming popular in community development for their emphasis on collaboration because they often result in creative solutions to complex issues. could have been as the demonstration house was on a small block with only three or four other houses and was not as visible to the community. Regardless, Willis was able to interact with several neighbors and found that community art was an effective vehicle for developing communication. We asked Willis for advice on how to engage the residents of College Core in the design charrette. She noted that people who do not necessarily relate to art may change their minds if they participate and can feel ownership (Willis). Willis believed that it is important for youth to have an identity in their neighborhood and encouraged us to try and include youth in the process of the charrette. She also suggested that the signs and communication did not necessarily need to be one piece. Communication may be more interactive separated from the neighborhood identity. When advertising the charrette, Willis suggested we utilize visual signage, “people are more visual” she said. “If you have a picture of a room or a space, people can visualize themselves in that space and are more likely to participate” (Willis). However it was decided upon to engage, Willis encouraged us to remember the reason why this effort was being organized. “The thing you offer people the most is hope. I mean, why are we in Detroit? It’s the lesser things that keep you here” (Willis). What began as a brainstorm with Nash to create chalkboard signs that could deliver both branding and communication to College Core, evolved far beyond our expectations. The design charrette ended up addressing not only social justice issues within the neighborhood (such


All Images: Charrette (Source: Authors)

as community inclusion through communication, recognition and pride through branding, and the building of community cohesiveness through the building of the signs), but also the practice of inclusive community development and promoting the larger service learning mission of UDM. Through the charrette, what we originally thought would be a single idea to implement chalkboard signs throughout College Core evolved into a multi-tiered community signage strategy. In conversations with Nash about the difficulties of effective communication in community organizing it was noted that it is difficult for many neighborhoods, not just College Core. Some residents have no access to email while others may switch cellular telephone numbers every few weeks. Communication is not just important to create awareness, but also to motivate action from the residents. The overall anticipated results of the new signage would be to see an increase in the community working together. Community happenings, such as boarding up houses, safety notifications, gatherings and events, can be more easily disseminated and have increased participation when communicated to a larger audience through centrally-located message boards. Nash also expressed interest at several points in branding the neighborhood with signs that read “College Core Neighborhood” placed throughout the community to help people know exactly where they are and build pride and identity in the neighborhood. Given that the neighborhood is located between two major anchoring institutions, building an identity and sense of pride could make College Core more visible and help to improve the overall appearance of the area. It also would serve to positively “change perceptions” of the residents and outsiders, which aligns with one of our four pillars of sustainable community development. We set April 20th as the date for the charrette and used multiple methods to recruit people to participate in the workshop. These included word of mouth, CCBC’s e-mail distribution list, social media and personal invitations to the architecture and digital media students, faculty and MCD alumni. We learned a valuable lesson from the way we invited people to the December holiday party, and this multitiered invitation approach was


Detroit SOUP is a regularly occurring dinner that gathers supporters together to share a meal, hear proposals and vote on a local project, event or idea with the winner receiving the funds collected. It is a microfunding effort where each supporter is encouraged to donate five dollars. SOUP has gained national recognition for its communityfocused efforts. The local movement of SOUP started in a Mexicantown neighborhood and, over the past three years, has quickly spread to several neighborhoods throughout Metro Detroit. On June 6, 2013, College Core Block Club President Gaston Nash III presented at the first Neighborhood SOUP in the Livernois Corridor. Nash’s proposal was to raise funds to provide Maggie Lee’s Community Center with a building sign. The sign will help to identify this valuable neighborhood resource and inform residents of events and opportunities to connect. The SOUP attendees overwhelmingly chose to award Nash the proceeds from the event. Nash gifted the check of $1,000 to Maggie Lee’s Community Center on July 11, 2013. the result. After the event, we anticipated that the community would be able to work with digital media students (DMS) at UDM to create a branding campaign, including a video for fundraising and public relations purposes. We anticipated the community using resources such as a crowd funding campaign to raise money. Funding also eventually came from other creative sources, such as the Detroit Soup/Livernois, a micro-grant community-funded program held at the Livernois Community Storefront on June 6, 2013. The charrette was held on Saturday April 20th between 9:3011:30. In attendance were four residents of College Core, one architecture student, one MCD alumni, one university staff member and our capstone group. In the end, we were not able to gain any attendance from the digital media students.


All Images: Charrette (Source: Authors)

In preparation for the charrette, we prepared a series of precedent studies, showing examples of signage in a variety of settings and communities. After an initial discussion of the intent of the charrette and the process, we facilitated a group brainstorming session. During this portion of the session, we discussed the images and what the College Core community hoped to accomplish through this signage. As a group, we brainstormed key words and phrases to describe the neighborhood and university and their relationship. The residents also pointed out additional examples they had seen on their daily routes throughout Detroit that they would like to see in College Core. For example, College Core resident, Bernadette King, had taken a picture with her phone of some signage located in a community space on the east side of Detroit that she liked. This exchange of ideas and examples was important in setting up the second part of the charrette. For the second half, we broke into teams of three and sketched out our ideas. Each team included one resident, either a current student, alumnus or staff member, and a current capstone student. Each group brainstormed for about 20 minutes before gathering back together to present their sketches to the room and discuss how and where they envisioned the signage would be located throughout the neighborhood. This was an incredible and eye-opening process. Instead of one sign that would brand the neighborhood and communicate messages, almost 20 types of signs had been brainstormed, including several “no littering” signs. The brainstorming went beyond signs, including a t-shirt concept and even a small ice skating pond in the winter. In closing the workshop, we asked the residents to describe the idea or suggestion that they thought was most exciting and to speak about what they would like to see implemented in College Core. Through the two semesters of our capstone it had been one of our goals to draw together the residents of College Core and students and faculty at the University in a close working relationship. An effort of this magnitude takes coordination and knowing whom to ask. The key is identifying the leaders who will take the time to be involved in the larger community. Some of these leaders were present at the workshop and


provided thoughtful insight on their shared vision for the university and College Core neighborhood Communicating a common vision between residents and the university joins together the sustainable, service and social justice bonds and connections that the sustainable community development model is attempting to foster. By focusing on the four pillars of creating connections, changing perceptions, developing leadership, and organizing action, we can join with residents to bring about sustainable community development. Instead of again being left out of the decision making process, the community itself is included in the decisions that affect and shape the future of their neighborhood, in this case through the direct creation, planning, and eventual implementation of signage to enable their communication. The community design charrette brought together College Core, the MCD program, other university departments, and staff, which not only fulfills the tenets of the MCD program, but the larger mission of the entire university. Expanding upon this project and using the design charrette as an example can lead to greater service learning opportunities for all of campus life, focused through the MCD program.

Takeaways • Changing Perceptions: Increasing communication and identifying a brand for the neighborhood assists in presenting a positive perception. • Creating Connections: Communicating a common vision joins together sustainability, service and social justice as the community’s vision for itself is implemented hand-in-hand with neighbors and university partners. • Developing Leadership: Collaborative actions help to identify leaders willing to take a larger role in the community. • Organizing Action: Engaging a variety of groups in an action helps to develop new ideas and suggestions.


Signage Charrette Results (Source: Community, Authors)

Signage Charrette Results (Source: Community, Authors)

All Images: Monica Street Cleanup (Source: Authors)

Our capstone concluded with a project that brought together and built upon all our work from the past two semesters. Following the charrette at the university, a neighborhood cleanup occurred on June 15, 2013 at a vacant lot on Monica Street. This lot was overgrown, with an alley in back strewn with debris and illegally dumped refuse. Most importantly, this project was community-driven. Our capstone assisted, along with the first Project Meerkat, but the idea was conceived and the volunteers coordinated by the community itself. Participation was wide and diverse. In addition to five MCD students from two capstone groups, Gesu Parish, adjacent to UDM, brought a group to assist. The neighbor next door to the lot brought out his lawnmower and began helping. Another resident was paid a small amount out of the College Core Block Club’s coffers to use a riding mower on the lot. New residents of the neighborhood from down the street saw what was happening and came over to help for several hours. Vehicles were stopping on the way by to either give money to assist the project or add their names and contact info so they could be involved in future projects in the community. The physical space was cleaned up and then marked with signs using materials found at the site. The signs were messages conceived at the charrette, such as “Love Your Neighborhood” and “No Dumping.” A pathway through the lot between Monica Street and neighboring Prairie Street was marked with another sign saying “College Core Neighborhood Pathway.” The alleyway behind the lot was cleaned of refuse and the trees trimmed, with the trash placed in a dumpster that College Core Block Club had arranged to be at the site.


Takeaways • Changing Perceptions: The community led positive change in the neighborhood. This change was infectious – neighbors came out of their homes to help clean up the lot, people in vehicles stopped and offered to help in the future, signage was erected to further promote community pride. • Creating Connections: Neighbors came together with nearby groups, new organizations, and UDM. New residents came out and made connections with community members who had been there for years. A diverse group of race and age came together to make a positive difference in the community. • Developing Leadership: The community, and the local leaders who had grown through their interaction with two successive capstone groups drove the entire process. Other community members saw what a passionate and focused local leader can accomplish, possibly empowering potential new leaders within the community. • Organizing Action: Smaller actions such as previous, smaller cleanups, community meetings, and the charrette all led to a larger community action in this cleanup. The cleanup, in turn, creates the possibility of even stronger positive action in the future as more people become involved and take ownership of the community’s future.


Monica Street Cleanup (Source: Gaston Nash III)

Monica Street Cleanup (Source: Authors)

Monica Street Cleanup (Source: Authors)

Monica Street Cleanup (Source: Authors)

All Images: Monica Street Cleanup (Source: Authors)



University of Detroit Mercy

Master of Community Development Capstone Presentation


Public Presentation (Source: Authors)

A Model to ReConnect Neighbors June 24, 2013

Livernois Community Storefront 19410 Livernois Ave 7:00 pm

Public Presentation Invitation (Source: Authors) Public Presentation (Source: Authors)

On June 24, 2013, following the community cleanup, our capstone gave its public presentation at the Livernois Community Storefront near UDM. Approximately thirty people attended, including UDM president, Dr. Antoine Garibaldi. This was an important milestone for the MCD program, as it was the first time a university president had attended a capstone presentation. As we will discuss in more detail, we stressed the importance of the university’s relationship with its surrounding neighbors and the key role the MCD program can take in that outreach. The message seemed to reach Dr. Garibaldi, as he shared with the audience projects he was working on at a higher level that had similar themes.





UDM Service Learning

MLK Day Cleanup Lollo Tot Lot

Gesu Parish

Increased Participation


Van Tour Signage Workshop


Monica St Cleanup Increased Social Media

Detroit SOUP

Community Pride Holiday Party

Connections and Interactions (Source: Authors)

Grant Writing

Patch Detroit

Ford C3 Grant

As we began diagramming the connections that we made during our project, it became clear to us that using our four pillars model could ultimately reach the key areas of development important to all communities promoting further sustainability: human, organizational, physical and economic development through the lens of service, sustainability, and social justice (see sidebar, page 15). We make our recommendations in the following pages informed by these processes and ideals.



UDM should refocus its service learning and educational curriculum to more closely align with the MCD program’s philosophy.

Our goal throughout the capstone process was that after we finished our project, we would have worked with College Core to together create a sustainable commitment between UDM and its neighbor. This relationship needs to extend beyond just the duration of our capstone or be restricted to just the neighborhood we worked with and UDM. One of the reasons students choose UDM is because they want a strong academic education set in an urban environment. We were taught this from experience throughout the capstone and it was reiterated by Fr. Hipskind that Service “Is” Learning. The MCD also frames service as “Service opportunities involve learning through doing, helping others, meeting the needs of a community, and working collaboratively with others to accomplish common goals” (“UDM - Mission and Identity”). Through incorporating service (as defined in the sidebar on page 15) it can be seen and felt as mutually beneficial for both UDM and the community, not just College Core. Fr. Tim Hipskind, also one of our capstone advisors, has been striving to reconnect the university with the community. During our conversations with Hipskind, we learned more about the steps that certain groups within the university had begun in order to try and integrate more with the community. Hipskind told us that the university’s president, Dr. Antoine Garibaldi, had convened a group soon after his appointment to investigate hiring a Director of Community Engagement. The group sought to apply for a grant from the Kellogg Foundation to cover the salary of such a position. Unfortunately, the effort fell through and the position has not yet been created nor moved appreciably since the initial effort. Hipskind felt that this was due to a changeover in personnel at the university who had the connection with personnel at Kellogg, leaving the university in need of rebuilding a relationship with the grant officer. Interestingly, this effort was also mentioned in our conversation with Lawrence Lavender. Fr. Hipskind is a part of the Strategic Planning committee at the university and spoke briefly about his effort and concerns with the process as it related to the community. He noted that during the planning effort a number of people objected to language included in the Strategic

Plan that spoke to the university’s interaction with the surrounding neighborhoods. The plan, as written, states that UDM will take a lead in revitalizing the neighborhood, however, it did not take into account the work that had already been done in the community nor did the language include provisions for interacting with the community in a socially just way. Hipskind and others suggested alternative wording that was more inclusive, however the overall committee did not respond and, to his knowledge, nothing was ever changed in the strategic plan. In October 2012, Fr. Hipskind and others involved in the university’s Service Learning program met to discuss where to focus their energies and resources. They came away with an emphasis on developmental service learning, increasing participants’ reflections on their experiences and incorporating interaction with targeted groups of people. Hipskind noted that the program currently does little to engage students beyond their initial experience in service learning projects and this was something he is committed to changing. Service learning, according to Hipskind, should focus on social justice and social change. He expressed a desire to develop servicelearning efforts in the core neighborhoods surrounding the university, effectively putting the efforts of the university on the ground with their adjacent neighbors. The challenge, for Hipskind and other educators, is how to sequence actions and development within a single course or term of study. How do you plug the students deeper into the experience? Additionally, the program struggles to engage professors in the true aspects of service learning beyond a single event of charity and into a deeper understanding of social justice. We suggested working more with the Master of Community Development program, as service learning and social justice are a large part of the curriculum and of the overall mission of the MCD program. We also spoke with Hipskind regarding future steps for the service-learning program as it related to the College Core neighborhood. Hipskind noted that the student leaders, led by Fatima Muhammad, had already begun working with Gaston Nash and CCBC to engage with the Fitzgerald and Bagley Elementary Schools to create programming for

university students. He also noted that continuity between university and community members could prove to be tricky as the participants in service learning often change term to term. Similarly, working with MCD capstone groups would be subject to turnover as capstone groups work in their selected communities for only two terms and historically are not followed by another group. We suggested that more sustained longevity may be better achieved with a connection directly between the service learning program and specific neighborhoods, organizations, or faculty rather than with the students. By connecting neighborhoods to different classes or university organizations through service learning and the MCD program, we are able to affect social change not only in the community, but also in the classroom. The resulting transformation is not just in the community, but in the resulting engaged students as well. This is directly in line with UDM’s mission and provides a strong example for convincing the university to further invest in the development of the neighborhood. This is a direct manifestation of the mission and vision of the university, enacted in reality. Rather than ignore or brush the mission and vision aside, the university should encourage and support this effort. An ancillary benefit of following UDM’s mission in such a way is that this type of relationship can be viewed as a strong recruitment tool for the MCD program as well as for the university at large. To make the sustainable change we envision, we know it cannot just come from the MCD program or the service-learning program, which is why we encourage UDM to incorporate working with the neighborhoods in all programs to become a true hands-on partner. Multiple small projects driven by the community can have a large impact overall. It is not just College Core that needs help; all of the surrounding neighborhoods can benefit from added attention. This type of action from the university will truly show its commitment and build trust, trust that needs to be repaired from years of neglect.



University Mission Statement The University of Detroit Mercy, a Catholic university in the Jesuit and Mercy traditions, exists to provide excellent, student-centered, undergraduate and graduate education in an urban context. A UDM education seeks to integrate the intellectual, spiritual, ethical, and social development of our students.



UDM should hire a full-time staff member who functions as a community liaison, an MCD codirector and coordinator between university departments.

The foundations of the University of Detroit Mercy were set with two religious organizations, the Society of Jesus, founders of the University of Detroit, and the Sisters of Mercy who founded Mercy College. Combining their efforts in 1990, they set a foundation for the university, noting “The University mission... emphasize[s] concern for the dignity of the person and for the common good of the world community... [this] includes commitment to quality education, the service of faith and promotion of justice, and compassionate service to persons in need” ( As a program within the university, the Master of Community Development (MCD) program is ideally situated to carry out the mission and vision of UDM in the community. The MCD program has the capacity to enhance community development and relationships with outside services and groups. Using the program as a focal point, other departments and student groups at the university can work with neighborhoods on the ground to achieve goals set by the community. This will fulfill UDM’s service learning component in real and effective ways that are guided by the community, the university’s mission, and the MCD’s program’s foundations of service, sustainability, and social justice through the HOPE model (human, organizational, physical, and economic development). All of the connections our capstone discovered and helped create and implement were solely our and College Core’s own work, without a central clearinghouse of information detailing efforts of other UDM groups. This process was inefficient and a significant amount of time and labor were diverted to make these connections. These helped illuminate a conclusion that would be highly beneficial to the MCD program, the entire University of Detroit Mercy, and the neighborhoods with which they partner. It is our recommendation that both UDM’s and the MCD program’s capacity and efficiency would be enhanced through the addition of a full-time staff member with several key duties: this person would be the coordinator to tie together all the disparate community efforts happening at UDM and create economies of scale. A focused and coordinated outreach effort by the university through the unique curriculum of the MCD program will create stronger and more effective

ties with the surrounding neighborhoods, while teaching community development and social justice through service learning to other academic departments and student life groups. Secondly, although a community and academic/student life coordinator may be a full-time job unto itself, it is recommended that this person also serve as co-director of the MCD program, and one without teaching duties. Currently, the directorship of the MCD program combined with teaching duties is spreading the directors extremely thin. Because of this, these directors have not had as much time as would be preferred to both grow the MCD program, and more importantly, tie it in with other programming at the school and the surrounding neighborhoods. Such a commitment from the university would grow both the quantity and quality of enrollment in the MCD program, which would have ancillary benefits for service learning and other group outreach from the University. Throughout our process, stakeholders have emerged beyond just the project and our target community. Since our capstone group continued the work of a previous group, the original capstone group was naturally a stakeholder in the outcome of the community. We reached out to connect other university departments, such as service learning and architecture, to the project, thereby allowing more of the university direct access to sustainable community development in partnership with a local neighborhood. The results speak for themselves. In under two years, College Core has gone from having no block club nor organized leadership to a strong and growing community presence with avenues for funding, regular projects in the community, and a skilled and focused leader. Such success is a credit to the neighborhood, its members, both capstone projects, many other departments and groups within the university, and countless others. Just as importantly, this model can be replicated. An integrated and multi-tiered approach to community development through the MCD program will allow all of UDM to implement its mission and strategic plan. Detroit is at an inflection point in its history, and things are already getting better for some. UDM and the MCD program can do their part to see that things get better for not just some, but all.



UDM should continue community outreach to surrounding neighborhoods with guidance from the MCD program.

In September of 2011, two Master in Community Development capstone groups began work on opposite sides of the University of Detroit Mercy. One group focused immediately east of the university in the Martin Park community. The other, our predecessor, concentrated on the neighborhood immediately to the west of UDM. We followed in the footsteps of the latter, the first time the MCD program has shown a more sustained commitment to a neighborhood. This was especially important for a university neighbor like College Core, which had just established a block club while working with the first capstone. Any support we, as representatives of the university, could give to make sure this forward progress was permanent was beneficial not just to College Core but also to the university itself. As mentioned previously, we were fulfilling the larger mission of the university through our block-by-block capstone focus by bringing the promotion of justice and compassionate service to those in need. It is an added benefit to the university that the work of the MCD program is improving UDM’s immediate surroundings, which in turn can help UDM itself through improved enrollment, which further begets more positive changes in the surrounding neighborhoods. The value of the MCD program, and especially the capstone process, is that it seeks to affect change through a bottom-up effort at the community level. This focused block-by-block attention facilitates sustainable forward progress for the communities themselves. One danger of top-down policy and solutions is that these can ignore the needs and voices of the individuals in the community for the “greater good,” such as trying to turn around a city’s economy at a macro scale and hoping a “rising tide lifts all boats.” The university has a social responsibility as an anchoring institution and a Jesuit and Mercy community to empower and collaborate with its surrounding communities. The MCD program has made substantial progress in this regard in two neighborhoods and it would be advantageous for UDM to leverage the MCD program to develop partnerships in additional surrounding neighborhoods. MCD can be the gateway for UDM to continue their mission in a sustainable and just manner, which can meet academic requirements as well as community needs.



Capstone groups have partnered with communities east and west of UDM in the last two years. Future capstone groups should work with other bordering neighborhoods and anchoring institutions around the University of Detroit Mercy.

With recent capstones in Martin Park and twice in College Core, the immediate neighbors east and west of UDM have benefited from partnerships with the university through the MCD program. But there is still so much to be done, even when solely focusing on the neighborhoods near the university. The neighborhood to the south of the university, Pilgrim Village, has a high vacancy rate and, unlike College Core, has not been targeted as part of an economic development corridor (in the Detroit Future City plan). It might be the neighborhood around the university with the most to benefit from a partnership with the MCD program. North of the university lies the aptly named University District and to its west the Bagley neighborhood. Although the housing stock is of higher quality in these neighborhoods, a lasting connection with UDM through the MCD program still makes sense if UDM is to have a comprehensive relationship with all of its neighbors. Even within College Core itself, much work remains to be done. Most of College Core’s efforts are focused on Monica Street, because the most active members of CCBC live there. The other blocks would benefit from CCBC’s help in mobilizing and eventually creating their own block clubs. One recommendation was to develop leaders on each street as street captains to strengthen College Core as a block club. Additionally, College Core itself is only the far northeast corner of the larger Fitzgerald neighborhood. The rest of the Fitzgerald neighborhood has less of a connection with UDM and the MCD program. Finally, one other neighbor can be better engaged by future MCD capstones or other UDM outreach efforts. Our capstone attempted to include Marygrove College in our collaboration with College Core, but had very limited success in engaging them in the work. Having Marygrove as a partner and anchor in reaching out to nearby neighborhoods can only further enhance community development efforts in the future.





Any community can create sustainable community development if they implement the four pillars model and put emphasis on all four pillars. It can also serve as a tool for higher learning institutions seeking to become involved in community development from a perspective of service, social justice and overall sustainability.

Our capstone experience led us to develop a model that we believe is useful not only for our neighborhood, but others as well. The value of our model is such that its application does not require trained community development practitioners or any specific sized target to be effective. If someone who is not educated in community development follows our model, we believe his or her output would still be sustainable community development. For instance, an economic developer working to build a new apartment complex can use our model and possibly have the following results. To truly change community perceptions, the developer would have to engage and learn what the community itself would want to see in any new apartment complex. The community’s perception of the development would be influenced not only by the end development itself, but by their input into the process. Very closely related, the economic developer would have to create various levels of connections to change these perceptions. These connections would include connecting to the neighborhood in which the development is to be built, connecting with the expected target occupants, and connecting with the city in which the apartment complex would be built. All of these connections would inform and help shape the end results of the project if the connections are truly formed with an open mind for input, and not just as “eye wash.� If the economic developer followed our model pillar to develop leadership, they would need to accomplish this by performing real community outreach. The act of identifying and developing a leader from the local community involves real connections with that community and real interest in empowering individuals to represent and lead the community in working hand-in-hand with the developer on the new apartment complex. Finally, organizing action within the context of our model does not mean actually building the apartment complex. It would involve real action that involved the community. This could be anything, including smaller projects surrounding the apartment development that were developed by or with the community. To organize effective community action means working with the community to develop an action plan that the community would support and attend. If the community has no real


interest or ownership of the action, attendance will be sparse or shortlived. Through our four pillars, the economic developer would be reaching out to and empowering the community to have real input and influence on the apartment development. The community itself would be a de-facto partner in the development of the apartment complex, and we feel the developer would have fulfilled the role of a community developer without that being their explicit intention. As the example hypothetically showed and our actual collaboration with College Core demonstrated, the model is scalable. A city could use our four pillars in how it operates as well. The output would be much more attentive to the needs of its constituent communities instead of topdown solutions that do not actually solve anything. Really, the possible uses of our model are limitless. The MCD program could use the model as a teaching tool for future students as a framework to follow in the communities they hope to partner with. The model is meant merely as a guide to ensure the voice and needs of the individual and the community are heard and followed. It is another tool to help communities, neighbors, and individuals work together to truly effect sustainable community development. Likewise, other communities should look to leverage their proximity to anchor institutions, such as universities, in an effort to implement the sustainable community development model. Interaction with the key stakeholders in and around the community allows groups to identify and develop leadership while creating connections to resources and ideas. Organizing action is aided by access to a large group of potential volunteers such as can be found on a college campus or within a hospital or religious institution. By connecting on a personal level with their neighbors, communities have the unique opportunity to change perceptions through action, interaction and grassroots leadership. Through all of this, the importance of a sustained commitment both from the community and the partner or anchor institution cannot be underplayed. As with College Core, the continued presence of community developers can only provide more opportunity for a community to grow.




SWOT Analysis  -­‐  Human  Development STRENGTHS -­‐  Leadership  exists  and  is  growing  within  the  neigborhood.


-­‐ Leadership  is  increasingly  recognized  by  outside   organizations  as  a  strength.

WEAKNESSES -­‐ The  population  of  the  neighborhood  has  declined   significantly  and  seems  likely  to  continue  to  do  so.

OPPORTUNITIES -­‐ Roots  of  leadership  already  exist  in  the  neighborhood.

THREATS -­‐ The  continued  population  decline  threatens  to  reach  a   tipping  point    in  the  neighborhood.

-­‐ The  existing  retail  corridor  on  three  sides  of  the   neighborhood  presents  the  opportunity  to  co-­‐locate  social   -­‐  High  unemployment  incentivizes  more  high-­‐risk  behavior   services. in  the  neighborhood,  creating  a  more  dangerous   -­‐  Although  population  is  declining,  the  neighborhood  still   -­‐  There  are  limited  local  programming  opportunities  across   environment  for  everyone. has  significant  density. the  lifespan,  from  young  to  old. -­‐  Improved  interaction  with  surrounding  anchor  institutions     can  enhance  community  growth. -­‐  As  it  was  in  1960,  a  relatively  large  portion  of  the   -­‐  Service  programming  exists  with  both  UDM  and   -­‐  Connecting  with  UDM  and  MGC  is  discorganized  and  not   neighborhood  is  at  retirement  age,  creating  a  need  for  both   Marygrove. well-­‐publicized  to  the  community.   -­‐  Neighborhood  structures,  such  as  pocket  parks  and   aging  services  and  a  renewal  in  the  neighborhood  of   pathways,  can  be  developed  to  increase  community   younger  leadership. -­‐  There  are  many  long-­‐term  residents  in  the  neighborhood.   -­‐  There  are  a  limited  number  of  healthy  and  affordable   interaction. (15+  years). grocery  stores  nearby. -­‐  The  low  rate  of  high  school  graduation  increasingly  keeps   -­‐  The  neighborhood  is  exploring  alternate  and  creative   adults  out  of  the  work  force  and  in  high-­‐risk  situations. -­‐  The  neighborhood  has  a  pre-­‐existing  community  center. -­‐  The  CCBC's  sphere  of  influence  does  not  yet  encompass   communication  strategies. the  entire  neighborhood. -­‐  There  is  a  negative  and  fearful  mindset  within  the   -­‐  Vehicle  ownership  in  the  neighborhood  is  high. -­‐  Future  organized  action  will  positively  change    perceptions. community. -­‐  Narrow  city  streets  often  have  vehicles  racing  down  faster   -­‐  Community  members  are  working  together  to  achieve  a   than  50mph.  This  is  a  threat  to  both  adults  and  children. -­‐  Boarding  up  houses  can  aslo  be  a  good  tool  for  building   -­‐  The  neighborhood  feels  that  it  is  not  a  priority  for  either   common  goal. community  connections. the  12th  Precinct  or  Fitzgerald  Community  Council. -­‐  The  general  perception  is  that  nothing  in  the  neighborhood   -­‐  CCBC  has  an  active  social  media  presence. or  community  is  getting  better. -­‐  The  larger  dysfunction  of  the  City  of  Detroit  can  hinder   progress  at  the  neighborhood  level. -­‐  There  is  an  active  and  socially  concerned  senior   -­‐  Vacant  houses  and  drug  dens  in  the  neighborhood  are   population. dangers  to  residents  and  discourage  a  walkable  community. -­‐  The  supply  of  resources  and  services  does  not  meet  the   demands  of  the  neighborhood,  region  and  country  at  large. -­‐  Safety  is  a  major  concern  in  the  neighborhood. -­‐  Youth  are  not  engaged  in  the  community.

SWOT Analysis  -­‐  Organizational  Development STRENGTHS


-­‐ College  Core  has  a  registered  block  club  that  is  stable  and   -­‐  There  is  a  major  lack  of  social  services  located  near  the   evolving. neighborhood.


-­‐ College  Core  lies  along  the  McNichols  corridor,  a   neighborhood  identified  as  an  "Eds  and  Meds"  target   development  zone  by  Detroit  Future  City.

-­‐ College  Core  Block  Club  does  not  yet  have  the  full   participation  of  its  constituent  blocks.

-­‐ There  is  limited  communication  among  the  outside   -­‐  College  Core's  surrounding  commercial  corridor  has   organizations  that  are  presently  active  in  the  neighborhood. several  schools,  churches,  and  a  community  center  that  are   assets  to  the  neighborhood. -­‐  CCBC  lacks  the  time  and  resources  to  secure  all  of  the   grants  and  financial  assistance  available  to  them.   -­‐  College  Core  is  located  between  two  key  anchor   institutions  in  UDM  and  Marygrove. -­‐  CHURCHES??? -­‐  College  Core  Block  Club  has  a  rapidly  growing  network  of   connections  to  outside  organizations. -­‐  College  Core  is  led  by  an  energetic  and  focused  leader  with   a  vision.




-­‐ Improved  connections  and  communication  between   -­‐  CCBC  remains  in  a  formative  stage  of  development  and   College  Core  and  Fitzgerald  Community  Council  can  further   further  deterioration  of  the  neighborhood  can  have  adverse   enhance  College  Core's  growth. effects. -­‐  As  College  Core  gains  recognition  from  its  community,   more  leaders  across  the  lifespan  can  emerge  to  help  the   community's  revival.

-­‐ The  drive  and  momentum  of  College  Core  is    tied  up  in  just   a  few  leaders.  The  loss  of  these  leaders  at  this  juncture   would  leave  College  Core  greatly  weakened.

-­‐ Short-­‐term  "wins"  for  College  Core  can  positively  change   community  perceptions.

-­‐ Lack  of  investment  and  buy-­‐in    from  anchor  institutions   threatens  the  future  viability  of  the  neighborhood.

-­‐ Existing  connections  within  the  anchor  institutions,  such  as   DCDC  and  Service  Learning,  provide  significant  growth   opportunities  for  the  future. -­‐  Official  nonprofit  status  can  create  future  avenues  for   revenue  growth  and  potential. -­‐  Neighborhood  patrols  can  improve  safety.


SWOT Analysis  -­‐  Physical  Development






-­‐ The  housing  stock  in  the  neighborhood  is  still  relatively   -­‐  There  is  little  diversity  in  housing  stock.  Almost  all  housing   -­‐  Removal  of  blighted  structures  designated  for  demolition   -­‐  The  continued  degradation  of  the  old  housing  stock  will   strong.  Although  one-­‐fourth  of  the  houses  are  vacant,  the   is  single-­‐family,  with  only  a  few  duplex  structures  and   will  benefit  the  rest  of  the  neighborhood. require  increased  maintenance  and  will  lead  to  further   housing  stock  itself  has  only  declined  by  200  units  in  the  last   multiunit  apartment  complexes. neighborhood  decline. -­‐  Several  lots  within  the  heart  of  the  neighborhood  are  good   40  years. -­‐  Several  houses  are  blighted  and  on  the  demolition  list,  yet   targets  for  future  pocket  park  or  communal-­‐space   -­‐  The  scrapping  of  vacant  houses  rapidly  increases  the   -­‐  Although  the  five  western  blocks  are  isolated  by  a  lack  of   have  sat  as  dangers  in  the  community  for  significant  periods   development. number  of  blighted  and  unlivable  structures  in  College  Core. through  streets,  informal  paths  through  empty  lots  connect   of  time. all  nine  blocks  together. -­‐  Although  the  retail  corridor  is  only  at  60%  capacity,  many   -­‐  City  services,  such  as  the  water  department,  are  slow  to   -­‐  Houses  that  remain  empty  are  quickly  stripped  of  metals   of  the  closed  structures  have  been  properly  secured  and  can   react  to  needs  in  the  neighborhood. quickly  reopen  with  new  businesses. -­‐  Commercial  infrastructure  borders  the  neighborhood  on   and  materials  unless  properly  secured  against  intrusion. three  sides,  allowing  close  access  to  retail,  restaurants,  and   -­‐  UDM's  fenced  campus  continues  to  feed  perception  of   services. -­‐  There  are  no  communal  spaces  or  pocket  parks  within  the   -­‐  The  neighborhood  is  moving  forward  on  community  spaces   isolation  for  both  the  students  and  the  community. such  as  improvements  to  the  Lollo  Tot  Lot  and  developing  a   neighborhood  to  gather  the  community  together. -­‐  Increased  community  cleanups  are  helping  to  beautify  the   -­‐  The  continued  population  decline  of  Detroit  means  there  is   basketball  court. little  demand  for  renovation  or  new  housing  within  College   neighborhood. -­‐  The  retail  corridor  only  has  60%  of  its  structures  opened.   -­‐  Development  of  community  signage  offers  opportunities   Core. This  does  not  include  an  additional  30  undeveloped  lots   -­‐  The  neighborhood  is  well  lit. for  improved  neighborhood  identity  and  communication. scattered  amongst  the  corridors. -­‐  The  neighborhood  is  located  conveniently  near  Detroit   highway  arteries.

-­‐ There  is  no  one  single  landowner  among  the  commercial   corridor  that  has  amassed  a  lot  of  property,  requiring  a   coordinated  effort  to  improve  retail. -­‐  The  housing  has  not  been  built  with  aging-­‐in-­‐place   practices,  creating  difficulties  for  an  aging  College  Core   population. -­‐  The  neighborhood  has  many  stray  dogs.  Dogs  are  also   often  used  to  protect  vacant  and  blighted  houses  from   intruders.

SWOT Analysis  -­‐  Economic  Development STRENGTHS -­‐  Co-­‐location  of  retail  to  the  neighborhood  along  three   edges  is  a  strong  advantage.


-­‐ The  neighborhood  is  located  near  several  large  employers,   -­‐  Unemployment  is  over  25%.  Including  those  out  of  the   such  as  UDM,  Marygrove,  WCCCD  and  DMC  Sinai  Grace. labor  force,  over  50%  of  all  adults  are  not  working.


-­‐ Relative  to  the  rest  of  Detroit,  the  median  neighborhood   income  is  still  above-­‐average.


-­‐ College  Core's  median  income  is  above  half  of  the  overall   -­‐  All  three  commercial  edges  have  intact  properties  ready   US  median  income. for  new  and  developing  businesses.

-­‐ Aging  housing  stock  means  increased  repairs  and   maintenance  are  difficult  to  keep  up  with  on  limited   incomes.

THREATS -­‐ The  weaknesses  in  the  overall  structural  environment  of   the  city  continue  to  hamper  College  Core  as  the  city  tries  to   manage  too  much  infrastructure  with  not  enough  revenue.

-­‐ UDM  and  Marygrove  have  expressed  interest  in  expanding   the  commercial  corridor  resulting  in  more  local  jobs  and   -­‐  Unemployment  in  the  neighborhood  is  extremely  high  and   potential  local  vendor  contracts. the  longer  it  continues,  the  higher  the  barrier  to  get  back   into  the  workforce. -­‐  Further  development  in  the  fields  of  microlending  and   crowdfunding  can  improve  the  ability  of  College  Core  to   -­‐  The  larger  economic  struggles  in  Detroit  may  close   raise  smaller  amounts  of  capital. additional  retail  along  the  commercial  corridors.

-­‐ The  overall  poor  housing  market  in  the  United  States   creates  barriers  for  homeowners  to  leave  the  neighborhood   -­‐  Detroit  Future  City  has  identified  the  McNichols  corridor  as   -­‐  Opportunities  for  nonprofit  funding  are  limited  and   or  improve  their  properties. an  "Eds  and  Meds"  development  zone. declining. -­‐  A  spatial  mismatch  exists  in  the  neighborhood,  separating   residents  from  available  jobs.





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Community Members

Barbara Epps Marie Handley Stephanie Harbin Maggie Lee Hinton Bernadette King Gaston Nash III Joyce Spann-Daniels Rose Spann Angie Williams

University of Detroit Mercy

Gloria Albrecht Libby Balter-Blume Brooke Ellis Fr. Timothy Hipskind Spencer Jaskiewicz Lawrence Lavender Jeffrey Maniaci Fatimah Muhammad Allegra Pitera Scott Reynolds Virginia Standard Fr. John Staudenmaier Stephen Vogel Denise Williams-Mallet Dean Will Wittig


Mark Covington Steve Gay Erik Howard Ahmad Kronfal Corissa Leveille Andrew Peters Riet Schumack Debbie Tropf Rebecca Willis Leah Wiste Our sincere thanks to these individuals, organizations and many others whose contributions made this project possible. We are especially grateful to our families and friends for their love and support during this project.

University of Detroit Mercy Chapter, American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS)



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