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Rethinking Neighborhood

Paul Brophy and Willie Jones, who this week will lead a forum called Transforming Neighborhoods, say plans that address regional, downtown and neighborhood problems are all intertwined.

"Improving neighborhoods must be part an overall regional strategy," says Brophy, a principal in the consulting firm Brophy & Reilly and a nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution. "In a state like Michigan, where there are (so-called) weak market cities, strategies have to be finely tailored for economic transformation."

Jones knows the state and the Detroit-area well. He lived here in the 1970s and 1980s and once worked at the Ford Assembly plant in Wayne. Jones has also experienced first-hand the ups and downs of the economy.

"I was laid off by Ford, then started my own business, and that failed," says Jones, now senior vice-president and director of The Community Builders Inc. The company has been responsible for several mixed-income housing development projects on the East Coast and in the MIdwest.

Brophy and Jones have taken their theories and practice into the academic world as well. Brophy lectures in the University of Pennsylvania's urban planning program and Jones runs seminars for the Urban Land Institute and teaches at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and at the Harvard Divinity School.

Transforming Neighborhoods, Strategies for Improving the Communities Where We Live and Work, will be held Wednesday, April 4 at the Max M. Fisher Music Center, 3711 Woodward Ave., Detroit.

8:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. - Registration and refreshments
8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. - Program

This forum is free and open to the public, but space is limited. Registration for the event is required. Register here.

This forum will explore how communtiy leaders across the United States are attempting to stabilize, renew and transform neighborhoods. Communities throughout southeast Michigan are seeking new ways to thrive in a changing and challenging economy. This is especially true in neighborhoods facing disinvestment and a loss of population. Special attention will be given to the use of catalytic projects and partnerships, and leveraging large-scale investments. Practical approaches and lessons learned will be highlighted.

This forum is followed by an optional briefing:

Detroit Neighborhood Fund
11:15 a.m. to 12:00 noon

The purpose of the Detroit Neighborhood Fund is to build stronger and healthier neighborhoods by stimulating investment in Detroit's near-eastside. This optional briefing is for the benefit of those interested in applying for grants from the fund. Grants will target an area of Detroit's near-eastside and will seek to build cooperative links between existing neighborhoods and the emerging ones being created along the riverfront and elsewhere.

The Detroit Neighborhood Fund is a joint project of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan with support from the Ford Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.


Walter Wasacz is editor-at-large for Model D and metromode. Information for this story also provided by the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.


Photo of the North Rosedale Park Neighborhood Copyright Dave Krieger

Read more articles by Walter Wasacz.

Walter Wasacz is a writer and the former managing editor of Model D. You can find more of his writings here.
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