A Child-Friendly Detroit: New visions for the city

Earlier this week, I received an invitation to attend a meeting of parents, community members and activists to discuss ideas for creating a Detroit that is child-friendly. This initiative has really sparked my interest on several levels. As a community organizer, I’m constantly looking for ways to go beyond “protest-politics” and towards approaches that transform our neighborhoods and communities. As someone aspiring to be a landscape architect, I think it’s important to consider how greenspaces and urban landscapes can be safe places for children and foster an appreciation for the outdoors/nature. This is part of building a city that is accessible for all and promotes community, rather than try to control it. And as an individual with friends who are raising children (and possibly raising my own) in Detroit, the vision for a child-friendly Detroit feels very urgent. What better way to show our gratitude to the future than to build child-friendy cities?

Below is the statement drafted as a response to some of the initial conversations about this topic.

We are the parents of (and supporters of) Detroit’s children: past, present and future. We aspire to raise our children in a Detroit that is full of beauty, playfulness and love. Although today’s Detroit has many hurdles, we believe that it has the roots of a city that could be a dream for our children. We believe that we are carriers of that dream.

Our manifesto:

We will not wait for “someone else” to make that dream a reality: neither political, spiritual or business leaders. We can begin to manifest this dram today.

We will start with small steps: small acts of beauty and generosity that give our children and our communities hope.

We will not build a project or program that requires large sums of money. We have everything we need now, today.

Our children will be the center of every meeting, activity and vision.

We will grieve publicly for lives permaturely ended, possibilities squandered and hope lost.

We see a Detroit of possibility, where others see limitation:
-Where vacant land now sits, we see fields of healthy food for our kids,
-Where over-grown parks blight the eye, we see creative playgrounds made of salvaged materials and earth-friendly landscape,
-Where abandoned warehouses indicate despair, we see the opportunity for year-round hydroponic gardens,
-Where abandoned homes sit, we see cheap housing for communities of teachers and artists,
-Where schools fall short, we see freedom school teaching,
-Where political leadership neglects, we see grassroots leadership emerging,
-Where big box stores avoid our city, we see opportunity for locally-owned, sustainable businesses.

Our children give us hope every morning when they wake up and reason to believe each night when we go to sleep. We will share both our hopes and our fears publicly and creatively with the city we love so that our children will share our pride and vindicate our audacious dream.

-Written by Jackie Victor, September 13, 2006

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  1. This is absolutly AMAZING. I *love* this. Thanks so much for sharing…

  2. This is interesting, radical and potentially transformative – especailly for Detroit. I’d like to see an inclusion of paradigm that shifts radically and permenatly from the automobile culture of Detroit. I think where once stood an auto-company office building can exist a place that focuses on rapid mass transit, bicycling and who knows what other alternatives.

  1. 1 Detroiters Dream for Children « wsoft.heart

    […] A while ago, I had written about an initiative taking place in Detroit, where parents are coming together to create a “child-friendly” Detroit. This group of parents, now named Detroiters Dream for Children, is hosting another gathering on Sunday, November 19th. Along with the recent Detroit Summer potluck celebrating the Hopes & Aspirations of Detroit’s youth, these are exciting times to bring renewed hope to the city. We are the parents of (and supporters of) Detroiters children: past, present and future. […]

  2. 2 Women of Color Blog » Detroit in the House!

    […] A Child-Friendly Detroit: New visions for the city:This is part of building a city that is accessible for all and promotes community, rather than try to control it. And as an individual with friends who are raising children (and possibly raising my own) in Detroit, the vision for a child-friendly Detroit feels very urgent. What better way to show our gratitude to the future than to build child-friendy cities? […]

  3. 3 Haikus of Daughter’s Hope in Detroit « poetry & tsismis: emily's blog

    […] Coincidentally, I wrote these when she was 17 months old, a very precious age. With thanks to: our Detroiters Dream for Children group for their constant inspiration; to Julia Putnam and Jackie Victor for always asking, […]




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