It’s no secret that there’s a lot of room for improvement when it comes to Detroit’s public transit system. Case in point, the Motor City, where 1/3 of Detroiters don’t have access to a car, ranked 54th on a recent survey of the nation’s best public transit systems.
For NW Goldberg Cares, which recently unveiled its latest public park, the 6326. Rest & Ride Park, the work starts right at home, or at the bus stop for the 29 Linwood line.
"The truth is when we think of our parks, one of our biggest priorities is the value it brings to the community and residents. We are home to one of the most used bus lines in the city but were absent of any covered bus shelters," says NW Goldberg Cares President and Founder Daniel A. Washington. "This was rather puzzling to us and we decided the least we could do is offer a solution to a problem that seemed to be unresolved."
The nonprofit raised $25,000 through a Patronicity crowdfunding campaign in partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Public Spaces Community Places program last year and had the support of city leaders who secured funding for a covered bus shelter for the park, formerly a vacant lot that Washington maintained for years. Before that, it was a cleaners.
"The cool thing about this project is it was supported at every level locally. The public through Patronicity, the city with DDOT assuming the cost of the bus shelter, then the state with the matching grant through Patronicity. We really believe this project is instrumental in serving those who use the current public transit system," says Washington. "We understand there is much talk and discussion about the need for the radical change of regional, but in the meantime the question of how you serve people must be considered. ... This is our attempt to do just that — work to improve the current system that riders of the 29 Linwood bus route."
Other amenities riders will notice include steel signage by neighborhood artist Ryan Doyle, a rubber mulch walking pathway, a variety of flowers and greenery, and a large mural created by Detroit artist Nicole Macdonald and commissioned by Henry Ford Health System. “The Waiting” features local residents, from youth to elders (Washington’s sister and niece are among the neighbors featured in the mural), gathered at the bus stop.
Macdonald, a 2017 Kresge Visual Arts Fellow known for her Detroit Portrait Series and more recently a new mural on the former Shopper’s World building in Hamtramck, says she appreciates the work NW Goldberg Cares is doing in the neighborhood and the mural is her contribution to the group’s “labor of love.”
It’s also her way to use her platform as an artist to advocate for more public transit equality in the city.
“I think [public transportation in the city] should be strengthened and underlined,” she says. “I want to see more resources and comfort and enjoyment. And so not just public transportation for those who can't afford some other means, you know, but public transportation for everyone. And for it to be celebrated. … [The mural] is my effort to champion public transportation and specifically the bus system.”
The park design was imagined by NW Goldberg resident David Richards who has helped in the design of all three of the nonprofit’s parks, which include the 6102. Art Park and 6134. Holland Maze Literacy Park.
If all goes according to plan the Rest & Ride park is just among the first few parks for the nonprofit, which aims to bring 20 public, community green spaces to the neighborhood by the end of 2025, says Jordan Yagiela, NW Goldberg Cares’ director of programming.
“Once it is safe to gather again, we will host community meetings to identify what types of parks residents would like to see. The possibilities are nearly endless ... we could see fitness parks, dog parks, community gardens, and much more,” she says.