Bring Back the Boulevard
GenesisHOPE has engaged Lawrence Tech University Design Center (LTU-DS), on behalf of community stakeholders, to co-facilitate the development of a plan to Bring Back the Boulevard. East Grand Boulevard (EGB) is the gateway to Belle Isle and the main artery of Islandview Village in Detroit.
ECN, Church of Messiah Housing, GenesisHOPE and the Villages collaborated with Arte Express (developers of the Packard Plant project) on a beautification plan for EGB. The beautification plan primarily consisted of advocating for trees to be trimmed, dead trees cut down and demolition of vacant properties along EGB from Frontenac to Jefferson. This beautification plan was shared with the GREENCorp, 16-18 year old environmental advocates studying LAND pollutants, blight and how storm water washes these containments into the WATER, as part of the FLOW (Food. Land. Ozone. Water) curriculum. The GREENCorp had the pleasure of walking the neighborhood on several occasions and was quite familiar with EGB. The question came up “what would it really take to bring back the Boulevard?” as one intern expressed how scary it was to walk down parts of the street due to the vacant lots, open and abandoned buildings and cracked up sidewalks.
This same question, “what would it take to really bring back the Boulevard?” was posed to Joongsub Kim, professor and director of the LTU-DS, including a plan to make better use of the nearly 4 acres at the intersection of Mack and EGB where the Young Sprouts (age 14-24) at GenesisHOPE operate a market garden and manage the Islandview Farmers Market. The executive director, Jeanine Hatcher, approached Prof. Kim because of the studios experience working with youth in hopes of having an opportunity to foster innovative relationships and engage the youth in land use planning. It was a match made in heaven!
Two exceptional LTU-DS students were hired for the summer and the project began with the creation of a project plan and a lesson plan for the youth participation.The GREENCorps learned to express their likes, dislikes and desires in various forms – using maps and markers, and created models to illustrate existing conditions. A campus tour and design workshop was facilitated by the LTU-DS interns with the GREENCorps and the Young Sprouts to obtain their perspectives on the current assets and challenges. The GREENCorp assisted with the exercises with plans of presenting their recommendations for an Agricultural Park to the property owner, securing lease agreements, and seeking funding for their capstone project.
Phase I of the EGB Community Plan concluded with a preliminary report of existing conditions, an analysis of case studies and community input, and recommendations for the study area. The study area is bound by Gratiot-Jefferson and Mt. Elliott to Maxwell and, for easy referencing, was named the EGB Community. This study area involves several neighborhoods including Islandview Village.
Phase II recently kicked off with a bus tour for the fall term of 19 students at LTU-DS, several community stakeholders and residents. The idea of a resident-led community plan was well received at the Charlevoix Village Association meeting held at GenesisHOPE‘s office last week. Residents and staff will continue to connect with residents, businesses and other stakeholders throughout the EGB Community with the intent of LTU-DS delivering final concepts in December.