If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the last two weeks, it’s that block clubs and neighborhood/community groups are really the backbone of Detroit and will drive its rebirth. These resident volunteers have stepped in where, for decades, the city has failed them — pouring in countless amounts of energy and much of their spare time. They board up vacant houses, they clear debris from open lots, they mow the abandoned lawns, they build community centers, they advocate to make sure their needs are heard.
But as with any grass-roots effort, these groups vary widely. Some have existed for decades and are well-organized; some are just starting out. Some are fighting to keep their neighborhoods stable; others are fighting for survival. And some neighborhoods don’t have any help at all.
On Friday we stepped away from our workroom for a few hours to literally get our hands dirty. We rallied approximately 40 more local employees from IBM and TheFrameworks to help clear debris and start building a community park for the Philip Street Block Club in the historic Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood, an area that has been hit particularly hard by the economic downturn of the last decade, when Detroit lost a whopping 25% of its population.
Here’s the SCC team with Philip Street Block Club president Roberta Bivens, center, purple shirt. Special shout out to DSE Detroit for the late-night delivery of our own Detroit-themed shirts the previous evening!
Getting instructions from Roberta.
A big thank you to everyone who came out, and especially local IBM executive Donna Satterfield for her support!