A blueprint for the future of our city was unveiled to great fanfare five years ago and the model was aptly titled, “Detroit Future City.” But since that time some community activists and leaders have expressed concern that the plan leaves behind many neighborhoods and is being quietly implemented, regardless of concern, by elected officials.
Anika Goss-Foster, executive director of Detroit Future City, responds to these concerns saying, “For those communities we do have to engage at a different level. A big part of it is helping people understand and help them become more informed about the place where they live and what the actual possibilities are.”
She acknowledges the challenges of working with blighted communities, “We’re learning lessons now about how to engage the community to prepare them for economic development activity, so they don’t have to react in a [not-in-my-backyard] way.”
Despite concerns over inclusion, Goss-Foster is optimistic. She notes that over 100,000 residents contributed input to Detroit Future City. She says, ”Detroiters are more empowered, engaged, informed, about their own neighborhoods in a way that I’ve never seen in my twenty-five years of working in Detroit.”
She expands on this enthusiasm noting, ”I think what’s happening on the East Side of Detroit is really something to look at. The area where the Eastside Community Network is, the Lower Eastside Action Plan (LEAP) area and the Eco-D district that was just designated, all of that is directly in the plan. The LEAP master plan, how we can actually look at open space to have both environmentally sustainable neighborhoods that are attractive and beautiful but that also have redevelopment opportunities where people can prosper in their own neighborhoods.”
Click on the audio player above to hear the entire conversation.