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Detroit Future City, Michigan Community Resources mini grants spur green infrastructure projects


Two organizations are supporting implementation of green infrastructure in Detroit neighborhoods through competitive mini-grant programs.
 
Michigan Community Resources (MCR) in partnership with ULI Michigan recently announced the following five awards to community groups to implement green infrastructure:
 
  • The Jefferson Chalmers Community Food System to build a water catchment system to irrigate their cut flower farm.
  • Urban Neighborhood Initiatives to create a water catchment system on a commercial building
  • Earthworks Urban Farm for research and development of an affordable, modular solar pump that will allow for the captured water to be used for irrigation in urban agricultural systems.
  • North Corktown Neighborhood Association to build a four-season rain garden on a vacant lot.
  • Marygrove Community Association to create a community rain garden with park-like amenities on a residential lot.
Each recipient will receive $5,000 in cash from MCR for materials and construction and an additional $2,000 in cash from ULI for signage, education, and maintenance. ULI will also provide pro bono technical assistance from their network of civil engineers and landscape architects.
 
According to CEO Jill Ferrari, this program represents a shift in its service strategy and focus.
 
"MCR envisions a more comprehensive approach to neighborhood revitalization in the City of Detroit," says Ferrari. "To meet this challenge, we are focusing on more targeted technical assistance that includes support for sustainable community initiatives. We want to empower groups to design and implement projects that have environmental, social and financial sustainability so that their work in the community is more impactful."
 
Funding for the MCR mini-grants is provided through a grant from the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation.
 
Detroit Future City is also working to stimulate green infrastructure implementation in neighborhoods through a second-year round of competitive mini-grants to support neighborhood transformation of vacant lots into green infrastructure assets.
 
The program is offering $65,000 in funds to up to ten neighborhood groups to utilize its DFC Field Guide to Working with Lots (available online at dfc-lots.com). Each group will receive a maximum of $5,000 to be used toward lot design and implementation. An additional maximum of $1,500 must be dedicated toward the maintenance of the lot, programming and education. The program is funded by the Kresge Foundation.
 
Applicants must be community groups which own the land or have written permission to use the land, and must demonstrate use of the field guide. To find out more on how to apply, contact the Detroit Future City Implementation Office.
 
Victoria Olivier is deputy director for neighborhoods for the DFC Implementation Office. She says the program is designed to work at small scales to address specific neighborhood goals. For example, the HOPE Village neighborhood installed a design on a lot that was adjacent to Davison Street to avoid it being seen as a cut-through for cars.
 
"If it was to serve as a shortcut to those businesses,  we wanted it to be for the community's pedestrians and be an inspiring space," says Olivier.
 
DFC has also partnered with ioby to implement a crowdfunding program so that neighborhoods can leverage grant funds to build additional community amenities beyond landscaping, as well as to support education and maintenance. She says the ultimate goal is to build capacity in neighborhoods.
 
"This is about building a cohort of land leaders through technical assistance and the connections they make with each other, so that these groups can then be a resource to their respective neighborhoods," says Olivier.

Read more articles by Nina Ignaczak.

Nina Ignaczak is a metro Detroit-based writer and the editor of Metromode. Follow her on Twitter @ninaignaczak.
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