Detroiters who want a say in how the city manages its land gathered for an environmental summit last week. Activists and community leaders organized the summit so citizens could provide input on environmental aspects of the Detroit Works Project, an ongoing project to deal with the city’s huge swaths of vacant land. Jackie Victor lives and owns a small business in Detroit. She says city planners need to look at Detroit’s land and natural resources as assets rather than liabilities.
“We really need to not look back and not look outside but to look forward because I really believe that Detroit can be a city that actually doesn’t exist right now.”
Victor says many neighborhood groups are already making Detroit into what She calls a “model city for the 21st century”—and in many cases, city government can boost those efforts by just getting out of the way. Brenda Love says she developed an interest in the environment only after she retired and started gardening. Love says she doesn’t think many of her fellow Detroiters understand how much environmental issues affect their quality of life.
“The underlying problem which you have to identify and solve first is that urban people do not know that they are part of the environment…that the environment sustains us or harms us.”
Love says she thinks the city needs to use its empty land to develop alternative energy sources.