Bye Vittorio, see you soon in Turin!

Today, except working at home for our research, we took an Italian friend to the airport. Vittorio was here in Detroit for the same reason we’re here. He is an architecture student in Turin and he was here to develop his final project like us. But after three months, today he has had to leave the city and come back to Italy.

This post is dedicated to you, guy! Thank you for all and see you soon in Turin! Detroit miss you…Bye bye!

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And today… BARBECUE!!

After so much work, community meetings and several events, finally a day with friends and total relax (more or less)! The last few days we decided to organise a barbecue in our Air BnB house for some friends, our italians classmates and all the people that helped us with our research here in Detroit. Unfortunately in was mother’s day and so some of them couldn’t come but it was a perfect party anyway! Thanks to all of you who supported us and who belived in our research! A special thanks to our neighbor George for the stereo and for the grill; thanks also to Lynne. that cooked fabulous pork ribs and brought amazing strawberries full of chocolate (actually it was her daughter that raised them)! Thanks also to Martin and Lisa‘s friends that played great music and thanks also to Patti that brought a great three berry cake. Thanks to Shannon, Brianna and CJ, Paulo, Nathan, Abraham and all yours friends. Thank you Nat, Charlie, Adrianne, Vittorio, Daniele for your sympathy and thank also to all the other people (friends of friend) of which we don’t know the name! Thanks Brent and Max, Simon, Noe, Rebecca and all the neighbors that came at the barbecue and last but not least, Kaine (George’s dog).

A special special thanks to MAESTRO, that after the barbecue gave us an unforgettable night in the spirit of the music… AMAZING

Fabulous day with fabulous people!

 

A very busy day

We started our day with Motor City Makeover in District 4 at 8.45 AM; the meeting was at the Samaritan Center (5555 Conner Ave. MI 48213) and firstly we helped District Managers staff to distribute t-shirts, gloves and trash bags to volunteers that came in the centre. The partecipation was very good and there was also a group of volunteers from the PDD (the Planning and Development Department) and a team from FCA group. After that first work, we drove around the area for distribute water and snacks to volunteers all over the area for a break from work and we talked a little with them. Even though we know how proud Detroiters are for their city we are all constantly impressed by people attachment on theiy neighborhood and on Detroit in general. We are very happy to had the chance to attend at the MotorCity Makeover program and the chance to meet so many people around Detroit. Next Saturday is the turn of District 7 and District 6, stay tuned!

After this very beautiful morning we had a wonderful afternoon that started with a lunch in the company of G. Galfione and M. Cox in their house, in Lafayette Park. Lafayette Park is a historic urban renewal district east of Downtown and contains the largest collection of residential buildings designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. This neighborhood was named a national historic landmark on Aug. 4, 2015. For two students of architecture the opportunity to enter in a complex designed by Mies van der Rohe, with also a personal guide such as G. Galfione (architect and a professor of architecture) was a dream! The conversation verted around architecture, Detroit, Italy, how the PDD was born and how this department is growing in this period as well as about this and that.

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We want to thank you G. and M. for this opportunity and for this conversation; thank you also for try to distribute our questionnaire in Lafayette Park!

To conclude well our day, we went in the Hart Plaza where there was a skateboard event organised by the Red Bull: “Red Bull Hart Lines”. It was very nice to watch the competition and we took some photos to the skaters. It was a sunny afternoon and, in general a great day!

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Leafleting in District 3

Today was the turn to support District 3: we helped District Menagers ad their staff to distribute flyers for a community meeting which will take place on May 16th for a discussion with the community about a proposal for the transformation plan of Transfiguration School. It was the first time that we visited this area and we were very surprised by how many empty lots there are in District 3!

MOTORCITY MUCKRAKER – 8 most abandoned neighborhoods in Detroit

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Peggy Noble

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We met Mrs. Noble last saturday, during MotorCity Makeover in District 2: she is the president and the community leader of College Park Community Association and we agreed to hear us for a meeting. She invites us to atten at a community meeting in her area in the First Baptist Institutional Church. It was an curious meeting, Mrs. Noble is a force of nature and a very strong leader! She can be so lovely with people that she like but very also hard with those that aren’t in her good graces (fortunately she like us!).

The meeting wasn’t very useful for our research with the exception of the first discussion topic that concerned how to get investors, management companies and Landlords involved in the community. Detroit in recent years is very attractive for real estate agents but most of them don’t make the effort to take part at the community life and this is definitely frowned upon. In general, inhabitants are favourable if foreign investors came in the city but on condition that they try to become part of the community otherwise it seems like they take advantage from the problems of the city.

Followed an open discussion about this and also other topics and after that, a an update of the upcoming schedule and future meetings. After the meeting, since it was Mrs Noble’s birthday (75 years) there was a little party for her and she was very very excited about!

Happy Birthday Peggy!

We agreed to organise an interview next week so see you soon!

First Baptist Institutional Church

College Park Community Association

FACEBOOK PAGE – College Park Community Association

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Discovering our neighborhood

Like every Wednesday today we attended at the Department of Neighborhood meeting at the City Hall. Like usual every District Manager spoke about the news in his district and then some guests proposed or talked about their projects. In view of our research, one interesting thing came out today! The City Hall is developing a website on the topic of neighborhoods in Detroit, in which they speak about every neighborhood’s characteristics both architectural, statistical data, projects, people and more. The more exciting thing for us is that they have some difficulties to design the borders of every neighborhood, since this would be a part of our final project. The website is currently a draft and it will be ready and launch around half of June. Certainly this will be a really good instrument for us and our study; moreover we are happy cause our work is turning out to be focus on a relevant topical issue.

In the afternoon we decided to discover more about our neighborhood, Dexter-Linwood. We decided to analyze this part of the city in our research also because we lived there for two months! Furthermore we are interested especially since everyone that we told where we live had a weird reaction: partly don’t know where is and the other part that know something about get scared. But why? This is a good question and we spent more than one month to know the answer. Unfortunately this was one the hardest hit parts of the city by riot on July 23rd – 27th 1967. This riot is one of the most important in the United States story, second only to New York disorders in 1863 and to Rodney King Uprising in Los Angeles in 1992. Today the neighborhood is still showing evidence of the riot but is improving thanks to inhabitants that had refused to leave their home.

Like almost every place in Detroit, except central areas or neighborhoods with specific characteristics, Dexter-Linwood shows an heterogeneous situation: beautiful and renewed homes alternating burnt and dangerous houses, vacant lots, empty buildings and dumping areas. The situation is more notably passing from a street to the following one or crossings an intersection. In our opinion this condition is one of the most influential in the problem of neighborhood borders’ design and also a problematic issue for the distribution of our survey, cause if you live in one block or in the following one the situation is completely different and the problems too, even if the neighborhood and the community is the same. We have to think about that and try to understand how to analyze the results of our research.

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Despite the fact that Mayor Duggan is really appreciated in Detroit for his work, in some part of the city, especially the poorest ones like Dexter-Linwood, residents don’t feel satisfied. In the following photo, you can read a criticism of the City of Detroit; some moms wrote their fears about a crumbling building that could be dangerous for their childrens.

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Second Round at CDC meetings

Today there was another pubic meeting of the Brush Park Community Development Corporation (CDC). The CDC is an advisory organization established to provide citizen participation in planning and development issues for the neighborhood of Brush ParkCDC Board Meetings are generally held on the Second Tuesday of each Month from 5:30-6:30pm at the MSU Center located at Woodward and Erskine (3408 Woodward, Detroit MI 48201). We attended at the first meeting on April 11th and our contact M. (a member of the association’s board) invited us to attend at the event also today.

Today’s meeting was the first of a series of community encounters for discuss about the City of Detroit’s form based code initiative focused on the development of the area. At the meeting were present Maurice Cox and some members of his staff responsables for the area, delegates of Utile, an architecture and planning firm from Boston, and Hamilton-Anderson, a Detroit based multi-disciplinary firm.

The new code is intended to regulate land development, ensuring hight-quality public open spaces defined by a variety of building types and uses, including housing, retail, and office space. This new form-based code will incorporate a regulating plan, building form standards, street standards (plan and section), use regulations (as needed), descriptive building or lot types, and other elements needed to implement the principles of functional and vital urbanism and practical management of growth. Today’s meeting was an introduction into planning and open space concepts that will help to etablish the scale and caracter for Brush Park neighborhood and this eventual Form-Based Code mentioned above.

Mona Ross-Gardner,  one of the members of the board, introduce us to the audience and, since we attended at the first meeting, reminded to compleate our survey to those who do haven’t yet done. Thank you Mrs. Ross-Gardner!

After a presentation of the project and a discussion on what is a Form-Based Code and the zoning concept, were asked at the audience an opinion about the project and also were asked to compleate a little survey. Followed a very active discussion about some controversies of the project and someone expressed his doubts about some housing types proposed. In particular some partecipants was not agreed with the fact that non of the housing types proposed was a single famity house and that in the ptoject there was too much density and not enough green areas.

Today we learned a lot speaking of what are the City of Detroit and PDD’s development strategies for Detroit and that changes are always difficults for inhabitants.

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PDD staff

PDD – Brush Park

Form-Based Code

Brush Park CDC

MSU Center

After the meeting we met a couple that live in Brush Park that we met at the previous CDC meeting and with which we was in contact. They have in project to build a new house in Brush Park and they show us drawings and plans. We also talked a little about Detroit, new changes, City’s issues and american stylelife in general. We took a coffee togheter and we planned to meet soon!

Our day ended with an hamburger at Slow Bar BQ, “Special Pourpose“. Very good!

Oakman Boulevard Rain Garden Project

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Too much meetings and no time for writing posts on the blog! Sorry followers, here in Detroit there are so many things to do that is difficult to write every day regularly. Moreover, everyday we want to go outside for learn as much as possible about the city and the life here: we love driving around Detroit and discover new places; we love to talk with inhabitants and meet new people. However we are here to work on our master thesis so we have to spend some hours to update this blog and continue our research. So today we decided to stay at home in the morning and recover about blog’s posts.

Later, in the afternoon, we took part at a community meeting in District 7 in the GFFD Community Center: it was the first of a series of meetings with inhabitants of Oakman Boulevard area that concerned the creation of Rain Garden projects (GSI) in some roads of the neighborhood.

Houses, roads, buildings and parking lots cover much of the total land in Detroit. When it rains, water has no place to go. To keep homes and streets from flooding, rainwater is directed to storm sewers on city streets and parking lots. When Detroit neighborhoods were built, they used one sewer system to carry waste water from homes and rainwater from streets to the waste water treatment plant. As the population grew, sewer lines filled to capacity. When the pipes are full, they overflow into the Rouge and Detroit Rivers to prevent sewage from backing up in residential basements. This overflow contains chemicals, raw sewage, and harmful bacteria that pollute waterways and threaten public health. Unfortunately, the overflows not only pollute the Rouge and Detroit Rivers, they also pollute Lake Erie.

Water and Sewerage Department is starting a series of project in Detroit territory (someone of them is already finished) for try to fix this situation and menage drainage and storm water in the City.

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The partecipation at the meeting was good and, in general, all the attendees of the event lived in the area under analysis and so the discussion about the GSI project was a very lively and committed debate. The organisers of the event presented us and our research to the audience and almost all partecipants at the meeting compleated our survey and they was interested in our research. We collected good responses and we are satisfied with this outcome.

Detroit, Thanks again!

DWSD

MODELD – Rain Gardens

MLIVE – Rains Gardens

GFFD Community Center

GSInormal condition

Cinco de Mayo parade and Spaulding Court Detroit Soup

siamo qui!!!!!

Big day today! First of all there was the sun, also if the air is still being cold. In the morning we met some friend from District 7 staff and we took part together at the Cinco de Mayo parade in Mexicantown. “Cinco de Mayo“, or the “fifth of May“, is an holiday that celebrates the date of the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). A relatively minor holiday in Mexico, in the United States Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a commemoration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations. The parade was very long (2 miles): it started near “Patton Recreation Center”, the District 6 headquarter, and it finished at Clark Park, in the heart of Mexican Town. We thought to watch the parade down the street with our friends but instead we TOOK PART at the parade!! We was just at the beginning of the line with the Mayor, District Managers, campaign officials (this year Detroiters will vote and Mayor Duggan is running for the re-election) and a lot of supporters. It was amazing to distribute candy to kids, greet people, and celebrate Cinco de Mayo with the inhabitants! More images in “photos” section.

“Mayor Duggan for Detroit”

“FOUR MORE YEARS!!!”

Patton Community Center

Clark Park

Mexicantown Detroit

DETROIT FREE PRESS – Cinco de Mayo Parade

THE DETROIT NEWS – Cinco de Mayo Parade

CBS DETROIT – How to celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo events

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After this incredible morning followed a very beautiful afternoon at the Spaulding Court Detroit Soup. We found the Detroit Soup initiative very interesting for different reasons and so we are attending at the different Detroit Neighborhood Soups. First of all it is a perfect way to distribute our questionnaire to Detroit inhabitants because while they wait the beginning of projects’ presentations there is time to fill out our survey and, in general, everyone is interested about our university research and our interest in Detroit. Secondly, it is a good opportunity for meeting people and find useful contact (Community leaders, people involved in local organizations, community project etc…). Third, it is a good way to speak with people and improve our english. Today the Soup was very nice: there were a lot of people, good soups and food, a DJ and also live music! The event took place outdoor, in a court between two renewed line of townhouses and, in general, it was a very nice evening! We collected good questionnaire replies and we discovered interesting initiatives that are dawning in Corktown and Midtown area.

Thank you guys for the opportunity and for your availability and thank you Daniele Fazzari Architecture PH for the photos!

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Detroit Soup – Spaulding Court

FACEBOOK – Soup at Spaulding

FACEBOOK – Spaulding Court

Hostel Detroit

Spaulding Court innovation

Spaulding Court North Corktown Apartment Complex

KICKSTARTER – Rehab Spaulding Court

Facebook – Daniele Fazzari Architecture PH

 

MotorCity Makeover District 1 and 2

Finally, after many weeks of work for preparing supplies, organising Kickoff days, promoting campaign and looking for volunteers, Detroit is ready for her first MotorCity Makeover of 2017! We took part at the initiative helping organisers (District Managers and their staff) with the distribution of water and snacks for volunteers who were cleaning their neighborhood. Fortunately today was sunny also if the air was cold.

In fact, the event took place in different parts of District 1 and District 2, where volunteers of severl Block Clubs and local organisations were cleaning up dumping areas, fixing dangerous propriety, cutting the grass etc… The location of the meeting was the Northwest Community Centre, in District 2: a big ensemble that is also the place of the District 1 work teem. We passed around different locations with our now new friend A. (the Director of Costumer Service of the City) and a guy that work for the Government too (the youngest employee of the City: 23 years old) and we met a lot of people that took care of the city. We talked about our research to some volunteers and now we have new contacts and new ideas and suggestion helpfull for our work here.

In particular we met a woman, Mrs. Noble, that is the president and community leader of College Park Community Association and she was so nice with us and so interested on our university research. We are agree for get together for an interview in the next days. Thank you Mr Noble!

We met also two young girls that are working for the Buildings, Safety Engineerings and Environmental Department of Detroit and currently they are working with communities for control that in inhabitants’ houses there aren’t toxic stuffs. One of them is also organising Board Up events for fix old abandoned house that are dangerous for the community (is not uncommon that homeless and people with drugs problems occupy those empty proprieties). Thanks girls for your kindness and for your interest in our work!

We met also Mayor Duggan because he, like us, passed across the differents locations to meet volunteers and thank them for their job for the city.

Unfortunately when we went to some locations for meet volunteers and offer them water and food there was nobody there, but maybe it was because it was lunch time!We returned at home too around 3 PM tired but happy to took part at this initiative also because everyone of the DONs know us anymore and everyone appreciate our effort to be a part of the city.

Detroit, see you next Saturday for MotorCity Makeover in District 3, 4 and 5! 

DETROIT HOUR – MotorCity Makover Returns

DETROIT FREE PRESS – Motor City Makeover

GOOGLE MAPS – Northwest Activity Center

North West Activity Center

College Park Community Association

FACEBOOK PAGE – College Park Community Association