DETROIT — The house on Iliad Street is stripped to a skeleton: no appliances, no wiring, no doors. Upstairs reeks of urine and animal waste because someone once stashed dogs there for fighting. Downstairs, the floors are covered in rubble, empty whiskey bottles and other detritus left by squatters and junkies….
Meet social activist Riet Schumack and her husband, Mark. They’re spearheading a grassroots youth gardening movement to help rebuild Brightmoor, a struggling neighborhood on Detroit’s northwest side. Years ago, Brightmoor was ridden with crime and on the brink of abandonment. Today, they’re proving that growth and transformation are possible, one garden at a time.
Brightmoor is one of many blighted neighborhoods in Detroit, but a small group of people is hoping to save it through farming. For more, guest host Celeste Headlee speaks with Riet Schumack, co-founder of Neighbors Building Brightmoor.
Neighborhood groups are bringing the blighted city back, one block at a time. Will city hall stand in their way?
There is no shortage of blight where Schumack lives, a four-square-mile neighborhood ironically named Brightmoor. She points out which homes are abandoned, vacant, and sliding into decay. But when she reaches one of her youth gardens, she beams. In the midst of poverty, Schumack is growing vegetables to teach her neighbors about the beauty of creation and labor.
Population loss and official neglect haven’t kept residents of one Detroit neighborhood from banding together to rebuild.
The Motor City is facing very hard times, but there is more to Detroit than the usual images of decay. Detroit also has stories of hope and renewal.
In a neighborhood know for its blight, seeds are being planted as college students transform not only vacant lots, but also attitudes about Detroit.
In front yards, backyards and on vacant land where nothing but weeds and debris used to be, an urban farm belt is forming, bringing neighbors back to the earth where just a few years ago, no one would come outside.
When young people tend vegetable and flower gardens on Grayfield Street in Brightmoor, they may be learning about “green,” as in ecology, but they’re also learning about green, as in money.