The emergent themes addressed by community development activities over time, from 1950-2013, are Urban Planning, Financial and Legal, Education and Community Outreach, Community Health, Sustainability, and Livelihood. In spite of the new terms such as sustainability and environmental justice which was uncommon language in the 1950’s, efforts were made towards the renewal of natural resources, human flourishing, and economic viability. These recurring themes represent a sixty year strategy that have attempted to confront seemingly insurmountable social and economic challenges.
Looking deeper into the subtext of the themes there is hope and inspiration to tell different stories, new stories. Today, there is planning for Detroit’s urban center that focuses on beautification of the boulevards and sidewalks with the vision of creating pedestrian spaces. Public safety then becomes a concern for all, those that live in the city and those visiting the city. Transportation has transformed, from reliance on a single family vehicle to public sharing on buses, trolleys, people movers and perhaps, even bicycles built for two. Infrastructure is the underlying foundation to a functional framework in any city. Innovation and entrepreneurism is encouraged through legal, business, and investment assistance by post-modern business planners. It has been asserted that most of these individuals represent families who once migrated out of Detroit: however, visually there is a contrast. Springing up in many neighborhood and abandoned lot is a community garden signifying food security for everyone at the table. Youth, families and elderly can be seen cultivating the soil and producing food for local consumption. Perhaps the rehabilitation and overall regained health of Detroit will emerge through environmental social justice.
Manning, June. (1992) Redevelopment and Race: Planning a Finer City in Postwar Detroit. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press