Detroit. Before we went there all we heard about Detroit was how run down and ghetto it was. The media made downtown out to be a war zone. That couldn’t be farther from what we found. In downtown we found a thriving scene of restaurants, bars, stores and lots of public art. At night there was a very large, vibrant, and varied crowd. I know I already touched on this in my previous post but the phrase Keith and I kept saying was how impressed we were by Detroit.
However we did go to the Bright Moore neighborhood and did see a lot of blight. Boarded up houses, burned out buildings, closed schools, etc. So it was definitely there and that’s what we expected, we just didn’t expect the good thriving scene.
Now for the actual documentary part. On Saturday we met with John George of the Motor City Blight Busters. Motor City Blight Busters is a Detroit non-profit dedicated to the stabilization and revitalization of our Detroit neighborhoods. John gave us a great tour of their office building (a fully renovated Masonic Temple), artist lounge, future coffee shop and many of their other projects.
Seeing what they do first hand, its pretty incredible. Over 20 years ago, John lived next to a crack-house with his young family and saw the problems that were coming along with having it in his neighborhood. He took things into his own hands. With the help of some neighbors, they started boarding up and fixing the outside. Guess what, the addicts and dealers didn’t return thus improving everyone’s lives. 20+ years later they have painted 684 homes, boarded up and secured 379 abandoned buildings, renovated 176 houses and built 114 new ones to made suitable housing for 1,160 people. Starting with a few people they have worked with 120,000 volunteers, who have contributed more than 658,000 volunteer hours. Wow just wow.
John and the MCBB have improved the lives of so many people, enabling them to live better lives and achieve what they want to achieve. It is always good to see the good in the bad and to see that there is something positive going on. We went to go talk to them for OAD for this very reason. They are achieving their own dream by bettering the lives of others and the community. They are also enabling others to achieve their dreams.