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August 10, 2013

Great government meeting today!


This post needed to be written today because earlier I was in a meeting that became incredibly eye opening, inspiring, and could create incredible potential for Detroit to transform itself into a leading center for green and blue infrastructure development and experimentation.

Today, along with my manager and our Green T project consultants, I met with Korey Hall.  Korey was here to represent US Senator Debbie Stabenow and their interests in urban agriculture as an effective productive use of urban land that can’t easily be repurposed for any other type of development.

Senator Stabenow is Chairwoman of the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. She is also a member of the senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.  Korey and Senator Stabenow therefore have a big interest in urban agriculture projects in Detroit that can become examples throughout the state and region.

Not only did we talk about the Green T project’s potential for Detroit, but it’s potential as a catalyst for other types of green and blue infrastructure projects.  We had the chance to explain to Korey the process of stormwater remediation and how it can become a more natural process in an urban environment.  How it can become a benefit to the people who live there, the waterways, as well as the stormwater treatment facilities, and a money saving project for the city.  We also discussed the phytoremediation potential of agricultural projects and how it can help bring value back to vacant, toxic land.  Much of what we talked about was new information for Korey.  It was eye opening and reassuring to see that there are people in government who are informing themselves about these things.  After this meeting, its become apparent that many of these projects won’t receive funding or much support from government or private grants because they are misrepresented.  It seems that much of the government or entities that would be able to distribute funding to this type of project don’t see the projects as viable.  But viable to most eyes means that a project would become a money making process.  Unfortunately most projects like the Green T couldn’t be implemented without large initial investments and they wouldn’t become profitable for many years.  However, if city has land that is vacant, toxic, and monetarily worthless, then nobody can or will use it for anything else but agricultural and landscape architecture projects.  In situations like the current condition on the Eastside of Detroit, Korey and Stabenow do believe that green infrastructure projects and urban farming can be used as a powerful tool for neighborhood stabilization.  Improving the lives of the citizens is worth the investment.  My faith in the federal government is low and has been for quite a while.  The meeting with Korey today revealed a bit of hope for me and has put in a great mood for the weekend!

After mentioning mass stormwater remediation and waterways above, I thought I’d share this photo I took a little while ago.  It’s a canal in the southeast corner of Detroit.  Michiganders and Detroiters are constantly using our greatest natural resource, fresh water.  These docks in the canal are attached to the backyards of single family homes.  Although homes like this are only a small fraction of the city, it’s a resource and amenity that most major cities don’t have.  We need to recognize the value and do everything we can to maintain healthy waterways.

2013.7.1 _ Detroit canal

2013.7.1 _ Detroit canal

Another thing that we spoke a bit about today was the possibility for the federal government to fund blight remediation projects in the LEAP district.  Very soon there may be federal money coming to Detroit [that are not grants] for simple things like facade remediation and demolition. This is one building on the Eastside that I would love to see preserved and taken care of!  If I had the means, I would preserve this one myself…

2013.8.1 _ eastside abandonment

2013.8.1 _ eastside abandonment

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