What we're looking forward to in 2018

At Model D, we have a diverse group of contributors with different backgrounds, interests, and ways of engaging with the city. Here's what excites us the most about Detroit in the coming year.  

 

Aaron Mondry, managing editor

In 2017 I was really inspired by projects that gave Detroiters greater autonomy and opportunities. My favorite example of this was the Equitable Internet Initiative, which provided high-speed internet to 150 people in three neighborhoods that have experienced economic hardships in recent years, and provided by an amazing partnership between Allied Media Projects, the New Economy Initiative, and Rocket Fiber. The digital divide is a well-documented phenomenon in America and internet access is an obvious way to lessen its impacts.

[Read Model D's article on the Equitable Internet Initiative]

One project I'll be following closely in 2018 is Bridging Neighborhoods. Ever since the announcement that a new international bridge would be built in Delray, the Southwest Detroit Community Benefits Coalition has been advocating that residents, who will be the population most affected by the construction and traffic, receive compensation. Through lengthy negotiations with the city of Detroit and Canadian government, they secured many of their desired benefits. The cornerstone of the deal involves a home-swap available to all Delray residents that allows them to acquire a renovated Detroit Land Bank Authority home. This kind of community benefits package is unprecedented and could become a blueprint for other major developments in Detroit and across the country.

 

Imani Mixon, On the Ground North End project editor

The last year has served as a consistent and necessary reminder that Detroit is essential. Not only to residents and their personal histories, but on a national and international scale. The city has historically birthed, supported, and propelled noteworthy thinkers and doers and this year is no different.

[Be sure to read all of Imani's On the Ground coverage in the North End]

As we head into 2018, I hope that every great idea, curiosity, and wish that 2017 has revealed will reach its fruition. Every Detroit neighborhood pulses with possibility (shout out to the North End) and gives each of us the fertile ground we need to build something beautiful and longstanding. Let's get it! 

 

David Sands, writer

My last story about solar energy innovation in the Detroit area really hit a chord with me. I'm excited to see all the grassroots movement happening around green energy and its growing interdependence with urban agriculture in Detroit and Highland Park. Groups like the Ryter Cooperative and projects like Juan Shannon's eco-friendly Parker Village community resource center collaborating with other organizations like D-Town Farm and Soulardarity is certainly interesting.

The emerging interdependence of these community-focused efforts has been fascinating to write about and leaves me excited about what might be in store on this front in 2018.

 

Margo Dalal, writer

As a resident of New Center, lover of food, and an advocate for cooperative businesses, I am most excited for the groundbreaking of the Detroit People's Food Co-op. Such a comprehensive, intentional, and inclusive project is needed in Detroit. I was thrilled to become a member, a way to opt-in to development projects I want to see supported, a way to get involved, and feel that my voice matters. 

[Read our story on how the Detroit People's Food Co-op came to fruition]

This food co-op is needed in Detroit, and in the North End. I think it is important that it is being spearheaded by the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, a pillar of the food and black communities. I trust them to be aware of the footprint they will have in the North End, and will ensure that the members and greater community are engaged and benefit from their presence.

 

Nick Hagen, managing photographer

I'm excited about the increased local and national attention towards stories outside of Downtown's rapid development. Motherboard and Vice News brilliantly covered activism in the neighborhoods with a video on the Equitable Internet Initiative and a dissection of Detroit's foreclosure crisis. (Topics also covered by Model D: here and here).

I'm extremely proud to have contributed to Model D's well-balanced coverage of the city in 2017. The publication of articles on FreedomHouse, Afrofuturism, Block Clubs and the history of Michigan Avenue make me excited to delve further into smaller, personal stories. The spirit that drives individuals and communities to taken ownership of their small section of the city and make impactful change is beyond compelling and, for me, what makes Detroit such an exciting place to live and work. I'm hopeful that more coverage like this will lead to meaningful civic improvements for long-term residents and inspire a more nuanced interest in the city overall.

 

Brian Allnutt, writer

Public parks, greenways, and other forms of open space seem to be getting a lot more attention in Detroit these days. There's even a temporary park in the middle of Woodward Avenue downtown. All this comes with its own problems and complications, like, should there be a public park in the middle of Woodward Avenue? Or a car race on Belle Isle? But these debates are the sign of a semi-functional democracy.

If there's one thing I'm excited about in the coming year it's to see these debates about open space continue as more and more community members seek to take ownership of their physical environment. Groups like People for Palmer Park, the Detroit Greenways Coalition and Friends of Rouge Park have been driving a lot of this action. This has the potential to make up for Detroit's deficit in quality open space as compared to other cities—and with the amount of unused property in the city there is a lot of potential here. It could also be a catalyst for bringing more citizens into the political realm as they see that this really is their city and they have an opportunity to change it in a tangible way.

[Read Brian's article on how a community group reinvigorated Palmer Park]

 

MJ Galbraith, development news editor

It'll be interesting to watch the larger, transformational residential projects begin to come online in 2018. Projects like the City Modern in Brush Park, which adds more than 400 residential units to the historic neighborhood, and the Fitzgerald Revitalization Project, which will rehab more than 100 single family homes and landscape nearly 200 vacant lots. How will such large-scale projects affect the lives of the people that already live in those neighborhoods?

[Read MJ's article on the most exciting developments in Detroit for 2018]

In addition to City Modern, there should be several hundred more residential units that will become available in greater downtown in 2018. Will that influx of housing supply help stabilize rent prices or increase them? Anecdotal or not, I'm hearing more and more conversations in area bars and restaurants about how difficult it's becoming to find affordable apartments.
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